Virtual Reality Technology for Factory Layout Planning
Factory layout planning (FLP) has been a long-standing area that largely influences the overall productivity of the manufacturing practice. Today’s manufacturing industry faces great challenges owing to an increasing awareness of environmental concerns and the trend-shift from mass production to mass customization. Companies are striving to continuously and effectively improve their existing production systems, adapt to demand and remain competitive in the global market. Such an adaption process usually involves a redesign of the production layout. Factory layout change are becoming more frequent and have much higher requirements for quality and efficiency.
Traditional ways of planning the layout change based on expert knowledge and onsite workshops cannot promise optimal solutions and bring unwanted stoppages to production, and computer aided design (CAD) and simulation have become widely used to support the process. The simulation approach focuses mostly on the quantitative measures (such as travel distance, time, frequency and throughput). It has shown to be efficient for general layout planning, but less satisfactory for detailed layout planning when qualitative factors such as safety, ergonomics and operator preference are becoming more and more important.
Virtual reality (VR) technologies have become ever mature in recent years and are known for their ability to provide users with experience closely akin to the physical world through computer-generated representation. The richness and flexibility of the computer-generated environment can be of overall benefit to the future layout planning process.
This thesis set out to investigate how different stakeholders, such as operator, maintenance engineer, production engineer, actively can support the decision-making in factory layout planning that utilizes virtual reality technologies, and it aims to improve current FLP practice through a systematic procedure that enables the active involvement of different stakeholders during the layout redesign and evaluation process.
Therefore, a literature review about previous virtual reality applications was conducted to understand the benefit and limitation and based on which, three empirical studies were followed iteratively to explore and evaluate different VR integration approaches. A general guidelines on how to integrate and use virtual reality technology for factory layout planning was developed and discussed.
3D Laser Scanning
Factory Layout Planning
Virtual Factory Modelling