A Novel VR Tool for Collaborative Planning of Manufacturing Process Change using Point Cloud Data
Today, manufacturing industry is facing increasing demands of customized products and global competition. Companies need constant and efficient changes in manufacturing process to meet the challenges and to stay competitive. However, a successful manufacturing process change is not easy to accomplish due to the fact that any change in the manufacturing system will affect various actors involved. Previous research has shown that active engagement of all involved actors in the planning phase
... ves the quality and success rate of the manufacturing process change outcome. The conventional supporting tools used mostly in this process such as documentation tools for text, numbers and static pictures typically requires an experienced user to be fully understood. Thus, some of the involved actors are not able to participate in the manufacturing process change (MPC) on equal terms. Over the last decade, the advancement of virtual technologies has shown the potential to improve the quality and efficiency of the planning of MPCs. Specifically, 3D laser scanning technologies can produce realistic virtual representation of factory environment with rapid point cloud data capturing. Immersive experience with rich context in combination with e.g. the virtual reality head-mounted display (VR HMD) could be provided, which is beneficial in the assessment and usable for several actors. This paper presents a novel supporting tool for the MPC design and planning, which incorporates point cloud data of real-world truck factories visualized using VR HMD technologies. It provides a collaborative and immersive environment for all involved actors to actively contribute in the MPC process. Tests and interviews have been conducted with various actors from industry for evaluation and validation of the proposed tool and its findings. The test data were analyzed and discussed with regard to the benefits and problems found as well as potential for future research studies and development.