How VR-powered workstations enable better training and collaboration

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Dell

Engineers, manufacturers, energy firms, and architecture and construction businesses have all become power users of Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR), technologies which started out in the consumer spaces of entertainment and gaming.

The industrial sector is discovering that powerful VR-ready workstations are available that enable them to visualise, simulate and develop realistic virtual environments. And, using the technology, they can create, experiment and troubleshoot virtual models, products and designs in a cost-effective way.

Furthermore, businesses can immediately improve their collaboration and design through AR and VR. In the report, Realizing 2030: Future of Work, by the Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies, extended reality (XR), which includes augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality, plays a critical role in how we will collaborate by 2030.

VR training is also a growing area, with IDC predicting that European manufacturers will invest €611m on AR/VR for training, to increase the speed of skills transfer, cut training contact hours, and save money on trainers and opportunity costs.

In the same period, they will invest over €877m between 2020 and 2022 on AR/VR for industrial maintenance, to speed up maintenance and repairs, reduce maintenance costs, and improve machine and process outputs.

In fact, industrial B2B users will be the biggest adopters of AR/VR between now and 2021, accounting for 35.5% of users, eclipsing gaming and media (8%), and entertainment (3%).

The following are some examples of how industrial firms are using VR/AR workstations today, to solve business problems and gain a competitive advantage.

Seeing the future

In the industrial sector, VR offers manufacturing and engineering companies fresh new perspectives, from simulating production processes and visualising operations to mirroring real-world development projects using virtual ‘digital twins’.

Volke Entwicklungsring SE, which works closely with Volkswagen, is an example of a company using immersive VR headsets and software to improve productivity, collaboration and team morale. The technical automotive engineering firm specialises in creating vehicle concepts that range from design to body construction of commercial and show cars. It developed a VR software solution called Cloudmodelling, to shorten the time from conceiving the idea for a new vehicle to series production.

Volke uses powerful Dell workstations and technologies for its digital vehicle development, with the graphics centric Cloudmodelling software enabling it to model, design, simulate and plan construction for the vehicle in a virtual space. Up to 10 team members can collaborate from anywhere in the world. “Building a model directly in the virtual space allows you to immerse yourself in the object and achieve certain viewing angles that were not possible before,” says Martin Werthers, clay modeller, interior design, Volkswagen AG.

Building tomorrow’s skyscrapers

VR is also being used in practical ways in architecture and construction. For example, Laing O’Rourke turned to VR to help clients and architects visualise buildings, understand space and form, and identify problems with the design before production begins. The firm uses VR headsets combined with the popular Unity gaming engine to develop platforms to run its VR applications.

And contractor Multiplex is currently constructing 22 Bishopsgate, a 62-storey skyscraper designed by PLP Architecture that is set to become the second tallest building in London after The Shard. The project team uses immersive and interactive VR technology to visualise and plan how the skyscraper will be constructed over time – in so-called ‘4D’. The technology shows them what each floor of the skyscraper will physically look like in detail, in six months’ time for example, and helps them to anticipate problems with crane movements or aeroplane flight paths.

Meanwhile, architecture and engineering firm LHB has utilised VR technology for product design, visualisation and collaboration. Whereas, in the past it would show clients a static photorealistic image, immersive VR puts the client in charge of exploring and examining LHB’s designs. The business frequently takes the technology on the road, to a client’s premises. It uses a suite of Dell Precision Workstations with Intel Xeon processors and NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards, to render smooth and immersive 3D visuals.

Virtual oil rigs and firefighters

Training and collaboration have become major growth areas for VR in industry; with oil and gas giant Halliburton adopting it for training and simulation, as well as safety and educational 3D presentations.

Real Training is another business that delivers powerful firefighting training software on Dell Precision mobile workstations. The Norwegian company provides its fire simulator software to clients that include hotels, restaurants and hospitals. It teaches their employees how to use a real handheld extinguisher in a virtual fire scene. Trainees wear VR goggles and walk back and forth through highly realistic virtual spaces as they put out fires.

Others, such as welding manufacturer Lincoln Electric, have implemented a virtual welding training machine to simulate the physical conditions of welding.

This type of instruction is pivotal because certain skills are in short supply and in danger of being lost for good. According to Deloitte, between 2015 and 2025 more than 2.7m baby boomers will retire from manufacturing, taking their embedded knowledge with them. However, VR offers a cost-effective way of on-boarding new employees and maintaining skill levels across an organisation.

Powering your virtual world

VR/AR adoption is set to explode as industrial organisations recognise its benefits and take advantage of the powerful workstations that exist today, equipped with the processing and graphics capabilities to run sophisticated VR applications.

For example, Dell has worked with its software and hardware partners to create workstations that are VR-ready. These ISV certified machines are powered by Intel Xeon processors, which can manage intensive and complex VR modelling and interaction. The workstations also feature NVIDIA Quadro or AMD Radeon Pro GPUs that can render detailed and immersive virtual locations, with smooth motion that emulates the real world.

What’s more, Dell’s VR-ready workstation-based solutions are optimised for today’s mainstream professional ISV applications, yielding immediate results for businesses. With enhanced performance, graphics and memory, these formidable computers provide the foundation for immersive VR and AR content creation and advanced commercial visualisation. 

How could you use VR-powered workstations to enable better training and collaboration in your business?

Learn more about Dell Precision Workstations at https://www.dellemc.com/en-gb/precision/index.htm

Further reading - 5 ways workstations offer better TCO than PCs

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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