Virtual planning with VR software "Layout"

Smart planning and visualisation of production workspaces and processes at ASSMANN

This project was successfully launched by our former BA student Nils Olschewski last year, and is currently being furthered by our dual-degree student Alexander Wölker: Working with the virtual reality software "Layout". Even though our office furniture production system is one of the most state-of-the-art in Europe, we are constantly working on further optimising production processes and workflows and taking a pioneering role where digitalisation is concerned.

Checking spatial relationships using VR goggles

"Layout" represents multiple leaps forward in terms of progress. The software enables us to represent numerous planning workflows in a greatly simplified fashion, for example by using abstract boxes. Furthermore, operation is significantly more intuitive than before with CAD software: The paths, sequence of steps, and positioning of the materials come to life and are made visible with the VR goggles. Workflows can thus be tested directly and adjustments easily made. The software also brings with it advantages in terms of graphical representation: Spatial relationships are made immediately visible and possible collisions can be identified right away.

BA project work highlighted advantages of the software

The implementation of the new software was originally the subject of project work performed by Nils Olschewski. Within just one month, the dual-degree BA student had modelled the body assembly line 2 in virtual reality. The results significantly advanced our work with "Layout", because it demonstrated a great deal of advantages over conventional planning methods.

In order to optimally design the virtual assembly line, the software was also tested by colleagues on the line themselves. After all, these colleagues will be working on the line, and have the best eye for optimisation potential. Planning errors can be discovered early and suggestions for improvement from all involved parties taken into account. The deployment under the project management of Jannik Bartels from ASSMANN Industrial Engineering has been highly successful in many respects.

Numerous benefits for handling and workflows

Before "Layout", our processes for the improvement of workspaces and workflows in manufacturing were different: Planning was performed with AutoCAD 2D. The biggest challenge: A great deal of imagination is required in order to derive a three-dimensional workspace from the plan view. However, with the new VR software, workspaces with abstract areas can now be represented quickly and easily in virtual reality. In future, it will even be possible to evaluate workflows from an ergonomic standpoint.

Background: "Layout" is quite certainly the most state-of-the-art planning software on the market. Specially tailored for designing workspaces in production, this virtual reality software by Halocline from Osnabrück underwent a successful pilot phase at renowned industrial companies such as Daimler and CLAAS before it was ready for release on the market. At ASSMANN, the pilot phase lasted until the end of February 2020 – and was a success. After the favourable start phase, we decided to continue using "Layout". BA student Alexander Wölker, who took over the baton for future VR projects this August, will also be advancing the development of the production processes using "Layout" in the future.