Four ways interactive technologies improve manufacturing workflows

Industry 4.0 has ushered in the era of real-time 3D interactive technologies, but what does that mean for manufacturing workflows? Here we look at four ways that interactive technologies can improve the workflows essential to the manufacturing industry.

Emerging interactive technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, extended reality (which encompasses virtual, augmented and mixed reality), and real-time 3D software platforms, are revolutionizing every aspect of manufacturing facilities and factories. Here we’ll check out four of the key ways businesses can adopt those technologies into manufacturing workflows. If you’d like to explore these ideas in depth, take a look at our Factory of the Future report.

1. More efficient design and product development

Extended reality (XR) increases productivity and reduces operational costs by using real-time digital twins for immersive modeling and design visualization. Working together in a virtual environment, product design teams can collaborate in real-time with accurate 3D visualization of their product, without the delays commonly seen with time-consuming conventional computer-generated imagery rendering.

For global teams operating across time zones, real-time 3D modelling allows for interactive design review and testing, allowing teams to identify potential problem areas before undertaking the cost of building and shipping prototype models. One consumer electronics company reduced their design phase time by 66% by building an interactive real-time 3D model using Unity Forma.

See how SAP is shaping the future of work with XR in a range of manufacturing use cases, from transport management to shop floor work instructions.

2. Get to market quicker

By integrating your marketing content production directly with your design workflows, you can create marketing materials sooner, and therefore launch your product more quickly.

With Unity Forma, for example, you can import your existing 3D design data and use it to create real-time 3D product configurators and render high-fidelity 2D and video assets on demand. The marketing team can then create up-to-date product-accurate visual assets from the same model that your design team is using to manufacture the product. There’s no need to ship physical prototypes to a photoshoot location. The high-fidelity 4K rendering capabilities of Forma Render (included with Unity Forma) make it a truly omnichannel marketing content creation tool.

Find out how one consumer electronics company integrated their design and marketing workflows using real-time 3D technologies, and got their products to market 2.5 months earlier than before.

Interactive product configurators built with Unity Forma use existing 3D model data, letting you get your product to market quicker.

3. Improve training programs

A study by PwC found that employees learning in a virtual environment were up to 275% more confident to act on the skills that they had learned and were four times more focused than classroom learners. In addition, we discovered that approximately 94% of companies using real-time 3D find it valuable across several industries, including manufacturing. In fact, XR training has been shown to speed up learning, increase retention, and reduce errors.

XR can be used to create training specifically for manufacturing applications, where simulated interactive and immersive training environments provide a safe means of learning for high-risk scenarios. Building digital twins enables effective training in systems monitoring and maintenance, as well as future-proofing staff skills through simulation programs.

Learn how to use Unity’s XR solutions to create your own immersive training applications for plants and job sites without the need for prior XR experience.

Check out what Dan Miller, Unity Senior Developer Advocate XR, has to say about how VR is changing training.

4. Make better use of your 3D data

Interactive technologies work with the data you already have, such as computer-aided design (CAD) model data. This means you can easily integrate them into your existing workflows, so you can start making improvements with minimum disruption. Solutions like Unity Industrial Collection provide the tools for you to ingest your 3D design data and get ready to create interactive 3D and XR applications. Here’s a list of just some of the file formats compatible with Unity Industrial Collection. How many of them do you already use?

By using the 3D data you already have, you’re closer to deploying interactive technologies than you think. Learn more about using your 3D design data to build real-time 3D into your workflows in our on-demand webinar, 3D to Real-time 3D: Improve Workflows & Productivity in Unity.

Use your 3D data in a shared visual space to increase collaboration and iteration speed, and deliver higher-quality designs and products.

To discover more about how XR and interactive technologies can boost your workflows, visit our resources page for customer stories, demos, on-demand webinars and more.

Are you ready to try XR today? Unity Industrial Collection, our 3D product visualization software bundle, includes everything you need to visualize your 3D and CAD data in real-time 3D, including augmented and virtual reality. Find out more, or try it for free.

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