18 February, 2017
If you are like me, you have been awaiting the rise of virtual reality (or VR) for a very long time. Thanks to recent advances in technologies such as 360-degree photography, the long wait is finally over and we can now leave our old humdrum, boring world in the dust as we dive head-first into digital realms unknown! But not all is fun and games when it comes to VR. In fact, the technology serves many purposes outside of entertainment. One area is in the workplace, which begs the question, how will future computer maintenance management systems (CMMS) adapt to this new tool?
Virtual reality and the reliability industry, believe it or not, are a perfect match for one another. If you own a pair of VR goggles, such as the ones offered by Samsung or even the cardboard offerings from Google, then you know that the possibilities are nearly limitless. And while there may not be thousands of apps for these devices yet, with the pending launch of Sony’s virtual reality system for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Neo, you can expect a huge explosion in the marketplace.
One cool feature that VR can bring to an industrial or warehouse setting is interactive education. Already, there are software programs that allow you to practice certain skill sets, such as public speaking (I highly recommend this particular option, by the way, especially for managers or management hopefuls) and even surgery, though hopefully any doctor you encounter has worked on real-life humans as well!
Picture a piece of maintenance management software that allowed you to do something as simple as read a digital training manual or, better yet, let you practice performing maintenance on a virtual copy of a machine. Imagine the time and money that would save when training employees, especially if the equipment you needed to train on was in a far-away location.
Now, take that a step further. Perhaps a machine breaks down and you can’t quite figure out how to replace a part; the manuals are full of heavy techno-jargon and are poorly written, offering no clear instructions on how to fix the machine. Enter virtual reality. Pop on your headset and get a tour of the machine from the inside out, click on the spare part you need to replace, and then watch a video of it being replaced. What could be easier?
Another great tool that VR can bring to the reliability industry is document storage. Just like regular CMMSes today, a VR CMMS could hold all of your important documents, which you could flip through as though you had them right in front of you. And if you have a portable VR system, all the better!
Add to the list the possibility of remote workshops, conferences, live customer support, and virtual stores that you could browse as though you were there in person and you can easily see how virtual reality (and augmented reality as well) are set to be a major part of our industry in the not-too-distant future.
Now, if only they could make those VR goggles look a little less nerdy …