Your Challenges with Factory Planning

In an increasingly dynamic environment, the demand for flexibility and adaptability is growing. It is important to adapt quickly to the changing requirements of customers and provide them with increasingly individualized solutions. This development also poses new challenges to many factories. For example, it often has to be possible to produce a variety of product variants or many products adapted to the customers at the same time. In order to meet the challenges of these tasks, modular factory concepts in which production line components can easily be switched or rearranged are becoming more common.

Usually desktop applications that allow Factory Planning on a screen are used to plan such production lines.

But such an application cannot provide a real feeling of what the planning model will look like and how it will be used by the employees in a real environment. The two-dimensional screen will always be an obstacle for the individual that is created for a three-dimensional world. In order for the layout to become efficient and functional, it is important to lift the model out of the abstract level as early as the planning phase and place it in a specific, yet flexible form. This will ensure that the implementation really meets your own expectations as well and that no planning mistakes occur.

We rely on augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to meet these requirements. Used correctly, both technologies can help you design the layout plan to be significantly more efficient, more transparent, and more vibrant.

For example, with the aid of AR and VR, planned systems and structures can be projected directly into a real environment, or a completely virtually created factory can be simulated and walked through.

The immersion and interaction that this offers enables your planners to adapt the factory layout flexibly and purposefully to the circumstances and to design a layout that can meet your own expectations.

The Advantages of Layout Planning with AR and VR

Digital tools have been used in layout planning for a long time. They provide a lot of flexibility for planners and valuable cost advantages for the company. Yet, again and again, bad planning occurs, increasing the expenditures and offsetting the cost advantage in particular. The main problem is that to transfer a 3D model viewed on a screen to a real environment is no small matter. Already existing elements such as connections, lines, and existing equipment must be present exactly and be integrated flawlessly into the model. Not only the dimensions matter, but also the exact situation and position of the elements. Here there is already a source for relevant error.

An additional, human aspect should not be underestimated: During the planning phase, the planned model can only be observed, while the realized model is not only “seen”, but also “experienced”.

People usually find it difficult to draw conclusions concerning the actual experience based on simple observation, and it is precisely in this gap that concepts that arouse false expectations quickly emerge in layout planning.

To counteract all these problems, AR and VR can be used to project machines, systems, lines, and all other elements to be planned into a real environment or to create a completely virtual factory that one can walk through. For example, a check can be made in advance to determine whether the position of connections or the dimensions of machines and systems have been planned optimally. In addition, this also enables processes and workflows to be checked for practical suitability and modified if necessary. The flexibility of the digital world is used efficiently: Potentials and risks of different planning concepts can be determined graphically and optimized efficiently.

The active cooperation of several individuals in a project is also an important aspect of layout planning. Here, both AR and VR offer the possibility of working collaboratively on different scenarios and implementing concepts together interactively.

In summary, AR/VR-supported layout planning offers:

  • Avoidance of wrong decisions
  • Acceleration of the planning process
  • Experience of concepts already during the planning phase
  • Planning that is close to your own expectations
  • Possibility of collaborative planning

The Functions of Layout Planning with AR and VR

Basically, a distinction is made between two presentation formats. As a technology, AR expands the real world and thus offers the possibility of transferring virtual 3D models of factory components to the real world and placing them in the form of holograms. As a result, a planner has the opportunity to insert true-to-scale images of machines, systems, or cables in the context of real environments and plan them realistically.

Use of AR in factory planning.Source: Novatec internal

On the other hand, VR creates a completely virtual image of the layout plan that can be walked through. Here as well, it is possible to see the planning model true to scale in advance, but the context of a real environment is lacking because the surroundings are completely computer generated.

Use of VR in factory planning. Source: Novatec internal

Three-dimensional CAD models of the objects relevant to the factory or production hall are fundamental for both methods. To be able to display them true to scale in data glasses, a VR headset, or a mobile device, however, they often still have to be modified and simplified. Automated optimization processes that reduce the level of detail, and thus the intensity of the data flow, are available for this purpose.

For example, once the models are optimized, a plan created by 3D Factory Planning software can be transferred to an AR or VR solution. Next, the advantages of the new technologies can be used to view plans on any scale, and move or modify components in any way. An additional simulation mode can help test processes and production plants ensure that the planned layout will also hold up during production. The appropriate software is a prerequisite.

Different layout plans can also be compared. This allows users to switch back and forth flexibly between different plans and see which changes would have to be made in order to accomplish the desired processes and workflows. All these functions can be linked to a cost accounting to ensure financial planning security as well.

Our Factory Planning Services

We have made it a personal matter to support you with your digitization project and to work out the optimal solution for you:

  • To do this, the first step would be to familiarize you with the technologies and produce the initial ideas together in a dialog. With this foundation, we work out a concept based on which we can develop a new application adapted to your individual needs iteratively.
  • This will also determine the specific AR/VR hardware with which the solution is to operate later.
  • If necessary, a complete digital twin can also be created for optimal layout planning.
  • With purpose and dedication, we will develop the perfect solution for planning your factory hall together and in constant communication with each other.

Have we piqued your interest? Feel free to call us and set up an appointment for a consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Paulo Ferreira da Silva

Senior Consultant
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Your direct contact Paulo Ferreira da Silva Senior Consultant