With AR and VR devices becoming increasingly affordable, accessible and configurable and computers becoming ever more powerful, the industry has started reaping benefits from virtual prototyping. Innovations are picking up pace and more industries are leaning towards identifying ways to use AR and VR technologies.
In this context, the VRTech conference, organised by Focussed Events and held in Pune recently, focused on applications of Virtual and Augmented Reality in the field of design and manufacturing. The theme of the current edition was ‘Helping industry go from drawing boards to immersive virtual product experiences’ and brought together AR & VR hardware & software developers as well as system integrators, content & application developers along with users on a single platform so as to facilitate the industry to set new standards.
Key to innovation and efficiency
Kickstarting the seminar were Steven Woolley, Chief Technology Officer, Mahindra Electric Mobility and Arunakar Mishra, MD & CEO, Genser Aerospace & IT, who spoke on the topic—Virtual Reality: A key to enabling innovation and efficiency. This was followed by opening remarks from Collin Noronha, Senior Consultant—Mobility Practice, Frost & Sullivan and Ramesh K Verma, Chapter President—Delhi NCR, The VRAR Association, who shared their insights on the subject of AR and VR—Paradigm shift, Industry perspective. Finally, setting the tone of the conference were Sridhar Sunkad, Managing Director, EON Reality and Hemanth Satyanarayana, Managing Director, Imaginate (USA), who shared their views on the role of Virtual Reality for Design & Manufacturing.
Concept and product design
Moving on, the next part of the seminar focused on four panel discussions, which brought an in-depth perspective on AR and VR technologies. The first session focused on the concept and product design and centered around the topic—VR & AR reduces time-to-market, design it right. The moderator of this session was Anshul Gupta, Director—India Sales Operations, ESI Software and the panelists were C V Joshi, Program Manager, KBE & Digital Product Development Ssystems, Tata Motors; Rajesh Sharma, GM & Head—Manufacturing Tech & Projects, Fiat India Automobiles; Asit Kumar Jha, General manager—Digital Engineering, Maruti Suzuki India and Nazia Qureshi, Senior Lead Engineer—VR, John Deere Technology Centre India.
Jha shared his observations on VR technologies for future engineering transformation and stated, “VR solutions should integrate with all CAD/CAM systems for seamless integration. This will lead us to the next step in our journey towards digitalisation.” Qureshi further elaborated on Virtual Reality for product design and opined on how VR technology applies to automation. Also discussing the challenges was Sharma, who averred, “VR service providers come with ready-made solutions. This is a big challenge. They need to focus on customised solutions catering to their client demands.” Joshi, too, shared his inputs & added, “Today, we have multiple tools and we can make them talk to each other. In the VR-AR space as well, this needs to happen.”
The next panel discussion focused on virtual manufacturing and revolved around how VR-AR helps to reduce cost to build, and enhance reachability and maintainability study and smart connected manufacturing. The moderator for this session was Madhan Thiruvenkatachalam, Senior Director—IoT, Digital Transformation, PTC and the panelists were Dr R Siva Sankar, Manager—Digital Factory, Global Manufacturing Services, Ford Motors; Ajay Holey, Technical Specialist—Manufacturing Systems, John Deere Technology Centre; Vipin Sharma, Deputy Manager, VE Commercial Vehicles and Sundarram Srinivasan, Managing Director, Lincoln Electric Company.
Srinivasan shared his insights on how VR is used in the training of people and how AR is used as a lean manufacturing tool. Also sharing an automotive OEM’s perspective, Sharma pointed, “The advantage that our company received by using VR technology is that we reduced the number of prototypes, were able to do virtual design for assembly and were able to engage with customers through this technology.”
Holey stressed on the benefits of VR but also discussed its challenges. “Hardware cost, accuracy and compatibility of hardware and how to upgrade and maintain them are the primary challenges of VR technology,” he pointed out. Sankar concluded this session by elaborating on how can the entire factory be converted into a 3D factory using VR technology.
Keystone in Industry 4.0
The next panel discussion focused on virtualisation as a keystone in Industry 4.0 and was a CXO panel discussion. The moderator for this session was Vikas Khanvelkar, Managing Director, DesignTech Systems and the panelists were S C Roy, Consulting Mentor, Maruti Suzuki India; Dr C Siva Shankara Bharathy, Founder & COO, Fusion VR; Arunakar Mishra and Steven Woolley.
Stating the application of VR technology in Mahindra Group, Woolley explained, “Within Mahindra Group, we have a widespread use of VR technology. We not use it on the retail side but are also making it a part of the whole design process.” Further discussing the role of VR technology as a step towards Industry 4.0, Roy highlighted, “Industry 4.0 requires a lot of infrastructure. However, before this, we need connected systems and processes in place, which will help visualise the entire process from raw materials to finished products. Additionally, plant maintenance is also a space where we can visualise using VR technologies. In this way, we can set up the process for Industry 4.0.”
The final panel discussion revolved around the subject of ARVR and how this technology helps reduce costs for deployment, knowledge disbursement and serviceability. The moderator for this session was Sridhar Sunkad and the panelists were Harshal Sawant, Head—Learning & Development (India), Altran Technologies; Dr Dattatray Parle, Technology Expert; Ravi Prasad, Scientist ‘F’, Head—VR, ICT Directorate, ADA and Vivek Bhide, Executive Director, Emmersive Infotech.
The seminar concluded with technology presentations focusing on the advancements of AR-VR technologies, which were given by the ESI Group, PTC Technologies, EON Reality, Unity 3D and Fusion VR. This was followed by the felicitation of panelists and the vote of thanks. The seminar served as an excellent platform for demo sessions related to this technology, stall visits as well as networking and helped end users understand why AR and VR technology is being increasingly adopted in the Indian industry. ☐