Siemens puts VR to the test at its Congleton site.
Virtual reality is at the forefront of the digital world, and with the ever increasing possibilities virtual technology has to offer, Siemens UK has installed Virtalis Virtual Reality (VR) software and systems in their Congleton industrial unit in its strive to create the Digital factory.
Siemens set out to achieve both simulating and optimising assembly processes, efficient design concepts and reviews, a slim work-cell design and effective factory planning by using Virtual Reality. The Factory in Congleton, Cheshire, designs and manufactures flexible speed drives for motors, and with the majority of customers coming from the automotive sector, airport industry or machine building (OEMs), Siemens are implementing VR to extinguish issues present at the early stages of the manufacturing process.
Simon Charlson, mechanical team leader at Siemens explained: “It is costly to create the tooling to manufacture a new product, and mistakes tend to be expensive. We are now working with our suppliers to bring their virtual tooling into our design reviews. We are finding that this agile development is resulting in great communication between mechanical, electrical and design engineers and is shortening lead times.” By Virtalis VR being installed, Siemens have been able to perform virtual examinations of products in the pre-manufacturing stage to ensure that equipment specification is met without costly mistakes.
As well as aiding in the reduction of errors, VR has enabled vast communication throughout various fields of expertise. Siemens’ layout planning engineer, Adrian Webster, explained: “VR is excellent at fostering multi-disciplinary communication. The people who have input into new designs are diverse: production engineers, test engineers, production operatives and production leadership. Sometimes they obtain extra expertise from R&D or from mechanical and electrical engineers too, or even logistics and facilities people and contractors. All these stakeholders work together in the VR environment to perfect the design and get the requisite buy-in.”
In addition to the benefits of installing Virtual Reality for communication and cost efficiency, Siemens have also utilised the technology for practicality. Adrian Webster also commented that Virtalis’ Visionary Render software “is intuitive” in the planning of office relocation “and anyone can get the hang of it quickly to navigate round the model, so I can help people visualise their new working environments. I am also finding Visionary Render is superb for setting up animation sequences and for demos.”
“We’re finding that we are reducing the snagging list of a new cell design by 90%” a transformation manager at Siemens, Anil Thomas, stated. “We are even finding more and different snags virtually and solving them in VR. This will certainly have a positive impact on our product lifecycle. We are not resting on our laurels, as it is apparent there is much more we can do with this technology. We’d like to work with Virtalis to create a roadmap to incorporate real-time collaboration with other Siemens factories around the world as well as haptics and motion capture.”
Siemens’ transformation manager, in an overview of how effective Virtalis VR has been for the company, said: “Our VR has been a game-changer for us and how we work. It’s no exaggeration to say it has changed the way we think and act. Every single production operative in the factory has either seen or experienced it. It’s key that the technology is not seen as something for a privileged few. As a result, we now bring VR into every facet of what we do.”