VR for warehouse planning
21 February 2019
Unitechnik’s Ingolf Mix explains the benefits of virtual reality when planning warehouse processes.
What does VR bring to warehouse planning that 3D drawings cannot offer?
The customer gets a better idea of the logistics system because he can enter and tour the new warehouse and not just view it from the outside. Proportions and distances are much more real. Viewing spaces in this way brings great added value, specifically during the early planning phase. When parts of the logistics facility are created in different scenarios, it is possible to render workspace variants in 3D, for example. The scenarios can also be assembled quickly and compared. Planning errors are thus easier to discover with a VR model of the full facility and can be remedied prior to the project implementation.
How are the technical possibilities changing your approach to warehouse planning?
One part of the planning phase in a Unitechnik project are workshops with the customer: when jointly testing the planned structure with VR, the work processes are given a realistic run-through and those who will be using the workplaces later can also be involved. This allows individual adjustments within the context of the total system, for example, changes in reaching height and grip width.
Which planning steps must be concluded for you to be able to produce a corresponding model?
The basis for the virtual reality model is a 3D CAD drawing of the facility. From the start of the sales process, we plan the future logistics facility in 3D. This CAD drawing will continue to be fine-tuned during the project and adapted to the customer’s needs. The current CAD model status can be imported into a game engine at any time, which then allows virtual ‘immersion’ in the 3D drawing. We can also regularly share the current planning status with the customer. The physical behaviour of objects (e.g. conveyor technology with pallets) and animations are implemented with the game engine. This means, for example, it is possible to pick up products at an order picking station and place them in a customer container. This dynamic presentation of the total model only makes sense, however, if the basic structure and layout of the warehouse has been decided. The targeted view certain work areas can also take place separately.