- Rolls-Royce Holdings is employing virtual reality (VR) to help train engineers in the assembly of a critical component of its newest jet engine, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.
- Assembly of the gearbox within the new engine is challenging due to its small size (3 feet), and the fact that parts are arranged in a complex and overlapping manner to achieve the variations in speed and reduced engine noise for which it was designed.
- Engineers practice assembly through VR in advance of working on the actual components. Doing so saves time and limits the wasting of parts.
Virtual reality is making a quantum leap into complex assembly and training tasks.
In New Delhi, Audi employs VR for packing simulation exercises as well as technical development. UPS also relies on VR, as it puts new drivers through their paces on simulated delivery routes complete with imaginary road hazards. Outside logistics and manufacturing, VR often appears in construction, where clients get tours of buildings in progress, gaining the opportunity to view the finished product well in advance of completion.
Virtual and augmented reality companies see their technology becoming ubiquitous within a variety of industries. “Augmented reality glasses can serve as a vehicle for critical, real-time instructions during engine assembly work," David Goldman, VP of Marketing at Lumus told Supply Chain Dive. "Instructions can be given via an overlaid photo on the actual engine rather than professionals looking at old manuals that could be cumbersome and laborious."
Others note the time-saving aspects, as well as corrective measures made simple. "VR for assembly training promotes the ability to train on a product before the product exists. This shortens ramp-up time," Yuval Boger, CEO of Sensics told Supply Chain Dive.
"It also gives the users the ability to train for problem scenarios which are perhaps more difficult to see in real life. For instance, with VR, people can be trained to fix an incorrect assembly by someone else, or trained to spot an incorrect part." Boger also notes the military's longstanding use of VR. "People can even be trained remotely. Military customers have done this for years: they can do refresher training on a battleship when soldiers are at sea and don't have access to the actual parts."
With its training and time-saving benefits, VR is likely to become ubiquitous in the supply chain. Today, it's Rolls Royce, Audi and UPS, but tomorrow, the technology may find its way to warehouses worldwide.