Siemens, Congleton, UK

Latest VR technology in use for Siemens' Digital Factory

Siemens’ Digital Factory in Congleton, Cheshire, designs and manufactures variable speed drives for motors. Its customers come mainly from the automotive sector, machine building (OEMs), pumps and fans and the airport industry. The drives control the speed of the motor, increasing efficiency of operation and decreasing power use. Although there are only five decentralised product ranges and four cabinet based systems, the inherent modularity of these drives, plus the many different frame sizes, mean that there are thousands of potential product configurations.

“It is costly to create the tooling to manufacture a new product and mistakes tend to be expensive" explained Simon Charlson, mechanical team leader at Siemens. "We are now working with our suppliers to bring their virtual tooling into our design reviews. We are finding that this agile development is resulting in great communication between mechanical, electrical and design engineers and is shortening lead times.”

Siemens embarked on its VR journey with a clear vision of what it wanted to achieve:

  • Simulating and optimising assembly processes
  • Effective factory planning
  • Efficient design concepts and reviews
  • Lean work-cell design

Carl German, a Siemens’ transformation manager, explained: “Our VR has been a game-changer for us and how we work. It’s no exaggeration to say it has changed the way we think and act. Every single production operative in the factory has either seen or experienced it. It’s key that the technology is not seen as something for a privileged few. As a result, we now bring VR into every facet of what we do.”


Why ART ?

We’ve chosen ART because we wanted to track real tools and that suits ART.
The flexibility of ART to expand from a simple 4 camera head and hand tracker to one that can track both hands, fingers and props (tools).

The tracking solution

Simon Charlson was heavily involved in researching the kind of system and software that could fulfil the company’s needs.

“Our first thought was a multi-walled Cube, but the product review and Lean Cell Design teams are up to 10 strong, so we went for a bigger Virtalis ActiveWall with a projected wall and floor combined with optical tracking from ART for group and collaborative activities and a Head Mounted Display-based Virtalis ActiveSpace for additional levels of immersion.”

Anil Thomas, a transformation manager at Siemens, commented: “Typically, we’re finding that we are reducing the snagging list of a new cell design by 90%. We are even finding more and different snags virtually and solving them in VR. This will certainly have a positive impact on our product lifecycle. We are not resting on our laurels, as it is apparent there is much more we can do with this technology.

We’d like to work with Virtalis to create a roadmap to incorporate real-time collaboration with other Siemens factories around the world as well as haptics and motion capture.”


  • Software:
    • Virtalis Visionary Render
    • Siemens NX
    • Siemens Vis MockUp
  • Projection:
    • 2 x Christie Digital Mirage HD10k-M projectors
  • Screen:
    • 4.08 m × 2.3 m Rear Pro soft screen
    • 4.08 m × 2.3 m Front Pro floor screen
  • Tracking:
    • 6 x TRACKPACK/E cameras for tracking of head and Flystick
  • Interaction devices:
    • Flystick 3
  • HMD:
    • NVIS ST50 50 degree FOV with AR and VR capability