In the manufacturing arena, the level of complexity of today’s assembly lines cannot be accomplished with two-dimensional visualization. A virtual 3D world is needed to make sure all of the manufacturing equipment and human employees work together flawlessly. The use of a 3D world can lead to significant savings. A small manufacturing plant can realize an annual savings of one million dollars and a 5 to 1 annual return on investment. A medium size plant can realize an eight million dollar savings with an 8 to 1 return on annual investment and a large manufacturing plant can see a $50 to $100 million annual savings with an annual return on investment of as high as 10 to 1. Read the article here.
At the car company of Mercedes-Benz, the use of a virtual world simulating the manufacture of an aluminum component for an S-class coupe saved the company time and money. Initially after the assembly line was conceived and developed, a compression-modeling die did not manufacture components correctly in the virtual world so changes were made until the virtual world produced the correct part. If the problem had not been discovered and changed in the virtual stage, it would have been a three to six month delay and several thousand dollars to repair the process on the actual production floor. Overall use of the virtual world has resulted in cost reductions of up to 30 percent in several areas of vehicle planning for the luxury car company. [from paper-based article: Tambascio, S. (2004) The virtual world meets the factory, Tooling & Production (2004) pages 38-40]
IBM’s Academy of Technology held a virtual conference and annual meeting and estimated a savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars. With an initial investment of roughly $80,000, IBM estimates that they saved over $250,000 in travel and venue costs and more than $150,000 in additional productivity gains (since participants were already at their computers and could dive back into work immediately) for a total of $320,000.
Grades in a program at Loyalist College to prepare students for service as a Canadian Border Patrol Officers increased 37% over a two year period after the introduction of a virtual role play within a virtual learning world. Loyalist College Border Service students participate in a simulated Canadian border crossing using Second Life - created by the Virtual World Design Centre, Loyalist College, Belleville, Ontario.
As an added bonus, here is an article describing how virtual reality and assembly simulations in manufacturing are being combined.
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