Immersive visualization in the manufacturing world has proven its value time and time again during design reviews, proof-of-concept validation, and customer engagement, decreasing time to market and minimizing risk. Organizations are experiencing faster buying cycles, decreased time-to-market, and minimized risk as they optimize designs in virtual space. Over a year ago, Genesis Systems Group (Davenport, IA) started seeing these benefits firsthand in their digital proof-of-concept processes for robotic automation systems.
The inherent power of virtual reality (VR) and visualization capabilities turned out to be more than accelerating time-to-market, optimizing designs, and decreasing production cost. Since beginning to leverage their technology solution over a year ago, Genesis has seen a distinct improvement both in how they work with their customers and their internal collaboration.
When a prospective or current client visits Genesis headquarters, they invariably end up in the Virtual Solutions Center to experience the audiovisual and information technology (AV/IT) solution, called the 3DG. On the curved, four-by-four tiled system—complete with mobile capabilities—customers are introduced to the Genesis process of creating a collaborative design or they begin reviewing robotic designs.
As the largest builder of robotic arc welding systems in North America, Genesis quickly discovered how virtual prototypes would revolutionize how their clients interacted with the pre-fabrication solutions. “Once the initial wow factor wears off, customers dive deeper into their concepts, ask insightful questions, and make design requests before product development ever begins,” said Patrick Pollock CEO and president. “We wanted to create a new customer experience when the system was first installed in 2015. Our customers are interacting a lot more with our engineers and with the design. We are finding that the customer attaches to a solution a lot sooner.”
In March 2015, Genesis first partnered with Mechdyne Corp. (Marshalltown, IA) to design and integrate the 3DG to virtually review and change concepts and designs. Ultimately, Genesis had a goal to become a leader in the technology side of the industry, ensure minimal design changes from concept through design, and to create trust and boost confidence in their customers. As a result, Genesis began seeing their processes streamline and product development costs drop. However, their 3D technology also began providing collaboration benefits they weren’t expecting: a more cohesive team and better internal collaboration.
The 3DG maximizes the internal design process, enables ergonomic testing, increases collaboration, and creates a long-lasting positive impression with customers. Today, Genesis designers and engineers are not only seeing the benefits of interacting with customers, they are uncovering the deeper benefits of a more cohesive internal team.
“We are using the technology more for internal design reviews than we anticipated, which is creating a lot more opportunity for our teams to work together,” said Genesis virtual solutions manager Justan Each. “Because more people are reviewing designs in the virtual world before we build one of our robotic systems, we are seeing fewer design errors and more optimized solutions.”
Finalizing a virtual design requires a versatile, agile approach to optimize a solution. Historically, engineers and product designers create and adjust a concept design with the customer, then generate a more detailed model before production would begin. Now, every team has an opportunity to provide insight into creating an optimized product. Here’s how the process works: Mechanical engineers and designers make design recommendations and plan for production more easily. Technicians make recommendations for cable runs. Applications engineers have a better direction to begin programming requirements, and sales is more comfortable with engineers and designers directing conversations with clients during design reviews.
“Our goal is to have minimal design changes from concept to fabrication,” said Each. “Because our teams are working together more closely, we are seeing that goal come to life. Sales engineers who were once hesitant with the technology now turn control over to the engineers and designers to begin discussing solution design, which creates a comfortable, collaborative, and customized atmosphere.”
Experiencing one of Genesis’ robotic solutions in the virtual world leaves customers feeling engaged and excited to move forward with a design. “We had two large sales in one day, and it is tied back to seeing the designs in the 3DG, knowing exactly how the solutions were going to work, and what our process would be,” said Andrea Petersen, communications manager at Genesis. “Our sales process was cut by two months, and we walked away with a record sales day, two robotic automation programs totaling over $10 million. That’s credited to the improved way we work together within Genesis,” she said.
The 3DG’s innovative design stemmed from a comprehensive understanding of Genesis’ goals and objectives. Instead of becoming sidetracked by all the innovative options on the market, Genesis tailored their technology solution to support their desired outcomes. Because Genesis ultimately wanted to engage better with customers to develop close relationships in tandem with optimizing their design review processes, they decided on an immersive, impressive, and portable solution they could take off-site. By partnering with Mechdyne and engaging with their consultative approach, the two companies developed a VR, 2D/3D capable solution that could be torn down and set up at a trade show in a matter of hours.
“Genesis Systems Group really focused on what they wanted to accomplish, rather than the technology to get there,” said James Gruening, Mechdyne senior vice president. “Their resulting success is attributed to their focus on their goals.”
Mechdyne Corp., which is a broad-based technology partner specializing in audiovisual and information technologies (AV/IT), visualization and software solutions, immersive VR technologies, and technical support services, was inspired by Genesis’ success to turn the 3DG-style solution into a continuing product.
“We were so impressed by Genesis’ success that we wanted to ensure other clients could see the same return on investment,” said Gruening. “The Mechdyne Arc now supports clients like Genesis who want to visualize their data or designs to accomplish their goals. We are seeing this style of solution helping clients in manufacturing and education industries.”
Pre-fabrication modeling, design modification, and testing in the virtual space have revealed the advantages of VR and visualization. Yet the most valuable aspect to Genesis’ 3DG has proven to be the collaboration capabilities and improved relationships between Genesis teams and their customers. “Our customers’ confidence in us grows when they can see their designs in the 3DG,” Each said. “Combined with the versatile teams that use the 3DG, there’s a greater sense of cohesion and trust between all our teams. We’re working better, faster, and smarter.”