The use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) has come a very long way – what was once a thing of science fiction now provides entertainment to people. More recently, VR and AR technology have also been adopted by numerous companies in order to improve production. In the automotive segment, BMW recently started to use VR and AR in order to improve production, training, and even planning of future work stations.

According to BMW, the company has been digitally capturing their actual plant for with 3D scanners and high-resolution cameras for several years now. This, in turn, allows planners in construction, plant engineering, logistics, and assembly to assess new production areas and workstations together with production staff.

They can also test new processes in production regarding its effectivity. The use VR also does away with the previously more-complex, digital reconstruction of structures and manual on-site recording. 

BMW using virtual and augmented reality to improve production image

BMW’s use of VR and AR has also been implemented for training purpose in their Production Academy. For 18 months, AR goggles have been used in training sessions for engine assembly units. The visualization gives participants a step-by-step guide in assembling the engine as well as specific information that they may need.

Participants can also work at their own pace, determining the speed of training via voice control. Based on BMW’s surveys, no differences were seen in quality when compared to the conventional training method. Aside from engine assembly training, the virtual training method can also be adapted to other areas of production.

In the future, BMW plans to use AR and VR to check whether a vehicle was constructed properly. The system would make it possible to determine whether the fender has the proper size, the exhaust positioned properly, or even simply making sure all necessary parts have been fitted.