In a world where, in recent months, contact between people has been difficult, innovation and new technologies are taking hold and shaping brand-new forms of human interaction and communication. That is why BSH has integrated Virtual Reality (VR) as a commonly used tool in its factories globally.
Using virtual reality equipment allows people to travel to any part of the planet and interact in the virtual world. This new form of communication works intuitively and most importantly uses technology to conform perfectly to social distancing. “I am glad, that we introduced this new way of working in BSH two years ago, in the Zaragoza plant as one of our first pilots years ago – both for collaborating internally and with our suppliers”, underlines Sergio Atares Olid, cooking Product-Lifecycle-Management production coordinator located in BSH’s cooking factory in Spain. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, this new technology is especially helpful. This is making a new way to experience a novel form of interaction and communication.
“As a person responsible for promoting and supporting the use of digital planning tools in the cooking factories, the VR solution and the proven benefits that it brings for virtual commissioning is helping me a lot to get more and more factories enrolled and accelerate the digitalization in our production planning processes,” says Project Manager Sergio Atares Olid.
Among others, the virtual reality equipment, containing the HTC Vive Pro in combination with Siemens Tecnomatix Process Simulate VR and a high-performance laptop, the virtual reality equipment allows BSH to reduce the time and costs for developing new production lines in its factories by accelerating engineering processes. “Finding ourselves virtually in the same room with suppliers, colleagues, and the production machines, we are able to virtually review and release new designs, for example. In this project we had a very ambitious timeline, we were not able to apply more conventional engineering methods”, explains Juan Luis I4.0 coordinator in the Zaragoza plant. Thus, BSH safeguards the health of its global colleagues and manages to keep its production running.
In addition to meeting the needs of our consumers, VR technology helps to design production lines and workplaces that are more ergonomic. To evaluate a new workplace design in our Zaragoza factory, for instance, the industrial engineering team combined motion-tracking technology with virtual reality. “We virtually experienced the material supply and the use of tools with colleagues from different factories”, explains Juan Luis.
See why the VR experience is so valuable to the Digital Factory
Thanks to the available software capabilities, the team can manipulate objects, make annotations, take pictures and even manipulate the movement of robots intuitively. “When putting on the VR glasses, I feel like I am standing in a real production line. That is amazing, especially in cooperation with colleagues from other locations who can be in the same virtual room”, mentions Efrén Rial Nieto – production engineer in the Zaragoza plant. In addition to planning and designing production lines, BSH uses the VR technology also for assembly processes and maintenance training around the world. And since virtual reality is not only a great innovation for machine-related use cases, the factory teams even held last year’s annual revision meeting virtually, allowing for a more natural flow of the event
“By using virtual technology in our factories, we can meet the increased demand and make our consumers smile.” – Project Manager, Sergio Atares Olid.
What surprised the Team about working with VR
Juan Luis the 4.0 Coordinator explains, „The first time that you use VR technology, it has a WOW effect. In our factory we immediately identified possible use cases where VR could be beneficial, what we did not imagine, is that the technology was going to be so easy to use, that today we would have discussed, analyzed, and reviewed more than 15 machine installations for production. We can say that thanks to this technology we have a new communication tool for interacting between different departments and also suppliers.“
“We planned to rollout Process Simulate VR in our factories in 2020 without knowing what difficult times were ahead of us. When the corona pandemic hit all over the world we thought we could not keep the pace in the project as planned. We then realized very quickly, that more than ever this technology was needed. We were able to onboard a lot more locations than we had originally planned. At the end of the year, our biggest collaboration was with 15 VR glasses from 6 countries all over the world. That was really impressive.” Christian Hergt – Product Owner Process Simulate VR
“In the past, we were focusing on highly sophisticated and expensive IT tools for Digital Factory Planning and specialists to use these tools like VR Caves. However, for being successful in digitalization, it is necessary to focus on the people, the cultural change and the scalability of the solutions. For us, this means that every engineer worldwide can use the Virtual Reality technology for Planning and Engineering in daily work and benefit from the integration into our Digital Factory Backbone and the worldwide digital collaboration.”
Ralf Nagel, Product Owner for Industry 4.0 – Digital Factory