IE 447 – CIM Lecture Notes – Chapter 12: Applications of Virtual Reality in CIM - 146
CHAPTER 12: APPLICATIONS OF VIRTUAL REALITY IN
12.1. What is Virtual Reality?
The current demand to reduce the time and cost involved in taking a product from
conceptualisation to production has forced companies to turn to new and emerging
technologies in the area of manufacturing. One such technology is virtual reality (VR). The
origins of virtual reality can be traced as far back at least as “the ultimate display”. Virtual
reality allows a user to step through the computer screen into a three-dimensional (3D) world.
The user can look at, move around, and interact with these worlds as if they were real. The
primary concept behind VR is that of illusion. VR is where a Virtual World - a three
dimensional environments or scenario created on a computer - can be freely explored,
experienced and examined in real time.
12.1.1 Virtual Manufacturing
With the advance of computer technology, VR systems could contribute efficiently in various
applications. Virtual manufacturing (VM) is one of the applications of applying VR
technology in manufacturing applications. Virtual manufacturing is defined as a computer
system which is capable of generating information about the structure, status, and behaviour
of a manufacturing system as can be observed in a real manufacturing environment. The
vision of virtual manufacturing is to provide a capability to “manufacture in the computer”.
That means VM will provide a modeling and simulation environment so powerful that the
fabrication/assembly of any product, including the associated manufacturing processes, can be
simulated in the computer.
There are currently, vast amount of VR software packages available on the market, which can
be used to develop virtual environments for different applications (e.g. Superscape VRT and
SENSE8). Moreover, software packages have been developed for virtual applications in
manufacturing (e.g. DELMIA). DELMIA package (See Figure 12.1) provides authoring
applications that can be used to develop and create virtual manufacturing environment to
address process planning, cost estimation, factory layout, ergonomics, robotics, machining,
inspection, factory simulation, and production management.
12.2. Virtual reality applications in manufacturing
Manufacturing industries are the most important contributors to prosperity in the
industrialised countries. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet customers’
demands and to compete. The advances in virtual reality technology in the last decade have
provided the impetus for applying VR to different engineering applications such as product
design, modelling, shop floor controls, process simulation, manufacturing planning, training,
testing and verification. VR holds great potential in manufacturing applications to solve
problems before being employed in practical manufacturing thereby preventing costly
Virtual reality applications in manufacturing have been classified into three groups;