Virtual reality

Virtual learning could soon be an option for machinery operators

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High-tech demands on virtual reality

But what are the technical pre-conditions for being able to create a virtual environment? For operator training on specific machines, projection screens, projectors and control computers are necessary for the visualisation.

Furthermore, for interaction with the VR model, a tracking system is needed, with which the position of the operator is detected. With the help of special VR software, it is possible to visualise the 3D models in which the operator will ultimately navigate via a suitable input device.

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In the light of this technical elaboration, it soon becomes clear that VT-based applications remain very expensive and are still associated with a large work investment.

To create VR models and, from them, corresponding applications, it is moreover necessary to have specialists – even if research projects are already looking into strategies for creating such models automatically from CAD data.

The benefits outweigh cost and effort

In most cases, however, the benefits justify the creation of such applications. Staff can be trained on machines, for example, for which there is not yet even a real prototype. If the machine is already on site with the customer and bound up in the production process, training is nevertheless possible with virtual reality. In addition, it is possible to alter a machine by introducing new components or by moving towards a new machine generation, with much less effort than in reality. A major advantage is, of course, that real crashes, tool wear or material consumption do not take place in the virtual environment. The training time on the real machines can thus be reduced, which in turn saves costs.

In production technology in particular, virtual reality is gaining more and more importance. Besides training staff for machine operation, virtual reality is also being used for the production preparation and simulation.

This article orginally appeared in MM Maschinenmarkt and was written by editor Stefanie Michel

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