5 use cases: how virtual reality (VR) in manufacturing delivers real results

Virtual reality manufacturing

Manufacturers simultaneously have one of the most demanding and essential roles. Factories are where value is created – and there’s a lot of working capital needed to keep everything running smoothly and profitably. From the costs of leasing factory space and machinery to high overheads from energy prices, personnel, and material costs – it all adds up.

It’s essential for manufacturers to keep running optimally with minimum disruption. All that equipment needs to be kept in perfect condition, to minimize downtime and maximize output.

Additionally, training in safety and skills are high priorities that need active management.


Small changes, big gains

The scale of manufacturing means that even small optimizations can have huge effects on profitability. This is perhaps one of the reasons we so often see the use of virtual reality (VR) in manufacturing settings.

Manufacturers have discovered that this versatile immersive technology can have immediate positive effects on operations and profitability. Although not all factories have rushed to adopt VR technologies, there are already many companies using VR in manufacturing. And there’s much to learn from them.


How using VR in manufacturing helps optimize operations

Manufacturers have found several distinct areas in which VR (and other extended reality technologies) can generate value. VR offers many possibilities to help manufacturers improve the efficiency of their production processes and the safety of facilities.

The special benefit of VR in manufacturing is the way it creates ‘total focus’. This ensures that training courses and other VR experiences have the maximum impact.

Let’s look at some areas where the manufacturing industry is already using VR to generate real-world gains.



Using VR, it’s easier to deploy safety training without putting people at risk with real machinery or hazardous situations. Complex tasks and ‘hands-on’ learning outcomes can be achieved entirely within VR instead of using real objects. 

This means staff can be trained to operate machinery without needing to use the actual machine in question – so you can keep production running at pace, even while you train new employees. And, because they’re totally immersed in the VR training, there are no distractions from the busy factory environment.

Remote assistance

There’s nothing worse than production equipment lying idle. When faults with machinery do occur, they must be quickly and safely resolved. Both VR and AR can be used for remote assistance, enabling on-site staff to use 3D tutorials to walk them through troubleshooting step-by-step.

First Time Right Diagnosis is a special application of this technology, enabling engineers to fix simple problems remotely. When a site visit is needed, the engineer will have already completed the diagnostic process, so they come fully prepared for the task, including all the right parts and tools, and any extra help needed.

The manufacturing industry depends on an army of technicians who service leased and owned machinery. For these businesses, it’s just as important to solve problems fast. First Time Right Diagnosis and remote assistance cut down the time spent travelling, and make each visit more efficient. Everyone benefits from this.

Digital twins

Digital twins enable organizations to model complex processes and facilities with a simulated version of the real thing, which can be rendered as a 3D model. There’s no better way to experience and interact with digital twins than by using VR. 

People can work on the same digital twins from different locations, by joining the same shared VR environment. Using VR, they can explore and simulate multiple possible optimizations and their outcomes. Factory processes can be optimized, and interconnected processes across multiple sites are easier to understand and improve.

Virtual prototyping

Instead of spending time (and resources) to produce physical prototypes, manufacturers can create a proof-of-concept in virtual reality.

Stakeholders can use VR to get to grips with the potential variations, which makes it easier to agree on design specifications. All of this can be achieved without needing to send samples (or make them). This saves the manufacturer a lot of time and material costs, and enables them to explore more design possibilities without committing to making them.

Without needing to make physical samples for every new (potential) design, machines can be kept working on profitable production.


By collaborating in virtual reality, everyone gets the same clear visualization – meaning you’re all on the same page from the start. Unhindered by physical locations, partners around the world can meet in a shared space to work together. Viewing 3D models in VR is more tangible than an on-screen model, and this helps everyone get to grips with what’s in front of them. As a result, collaborative work runs smoother, and the finish line is reached faster. Collaboration can also be very effective with augmented reality and mixed reality.

Spatial Visualization

VR helps with the visualization of complex things and abstract ideas. What could be more complex than the spatial arrangement of an industrial facility? Using VR, new staff can visit the virtual factory and familiarize themselves with the layout and potential hazards.

VR is especially useful for seeing how heavy machine layouts work and for optimizing factory flows, as new machines can be ‘installed’ in a VR factory environment to see how they fit together.

Instead of investigating flow optimizations on a flat screen, you can walk through the virtual factory with a full overview. You can visualize new line designs and optimize them by seeing how each potential layout minimizes material flow distances and handling.

If new (updated) machinery is coming, staff train before it is even installed, minimizing downtime.


5 use cases of VR in manufacturing

So, we’ve established some key areas where VR is used in the manufacturing industry. Now let’s look at 5 real-world use cases of businesses that have made big gains using virtual reality.

Use case #1: Spatial Visualization

How can you orient new colleagues with your complex and (potentially) hazardous workplace? There are few settings more complicated and dangerous than an oil rig. This client has used Fectar Studio to build an ‘oil rig visit’. This combines a virtual oil rig with detailed 360-degree photos, and a holopresenter who acts as a guide.

Experience it here.

Use case #2: Digital twins

Complex machinery can be fully modelled in VR with a digital twin. Turbomachinery manufacturer Control Care uses their virtual turbine simulation to test and optimize settings with both VR and AR. Multiple scenarios can be explored and the effects visualized.

Experience it here.

Use case #3: Training

Trainee aircraft technicians can get to grips with how an airplane engine works, thanks to 3D modeling. It helps them understand how these complex machines work and how to fix them.

Experience it here.

Use case #4: Remote assistance

A client of Fectar uses their virtual immersive content to provide remote assistance for the servicing of their turbines. Installed in power plants around the world, ABB’s/their turbines are relied on by consumers and industry alike. 

Use case #5:  Virtual prototyping

A client in Australia uses VR experiences to sell different models of made-to-order homes. Customers can explore designs in extended reality, making it easier to see what it will be like to live there. Potential buyers can explore different variations and optional extras. This helps to erase doubt, and increases buyer confidence.

Experience it here.


Grasping the future of VR in manufacturing and other industries

Virtual reality has a lot to offer. It helps with visualizing complex ideas and abstract concepts. People can use VR to experience the consequences of potential decisions, either in a virtual training environment or using digital twins that simulate real processes and facilities. Because VR insulates the participants from the real world, it can focus minds completely on the intended experience. The result is better outcomes, optimized operations, and better retention of training courses.

Every industry can learn from how manufacturing uses VR. While not every use case is easy to translate across all industries, they give inspiration. Your business can gain a competitive edge by leveraging this technology in unique ways that make the most of your strengths and overcome potential weaknesses. There’s no time to lose – businesses that start experimenting early stand to gain the most.

So, let’s get started today! With the Fectar Studio, it’s easier than ever to create customized immersive VR and AR experiences.

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