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September 15, 1997updated 03 Sep 2016 7:39pm

ENGINEERS CUT COSTS & SPEED DESIGNS WITH DIVISION VR SYSTEM

By CBR Staff Writer

Division Group Plc claims customers of its interactive product simulation software for engineers are seeing a dramatic return on their investment by significantly reducing the costs of building physical prototypes, the company says. Division uses virtual reality technology to give engineers throughout an organization access to interactive product simulation models, to see how components interact with each other, and identify clashes and physical difficulties at a very early stage. The dVise product suite enables ‘Distributed Vision’ – a contraction of which apparently gave the company its name – the ability for many people at multiple sites to collaborate on the design of a product in real time. It also offers a scalable set of interfaces, meaning it can be used on anything from a desktop computer to a fully immersive system, to enable engineers to understand intricate spatial issues. Division vice president marketing Mark Smith, says US engineering firm John Deere & Co is one customer that has seen particularly good results and cost savings from being able to reduce the number of physical models it has to build. The product also enables engineers to change designs or parts of designs very quickly and simply, and build another virtual prototype in no time at all. Companies are also using the virtual prototypes with customers, to assess the practicalities of a design. The virtual prototype can identify maintenance or usage problems, for example a valve that needs changing has a pipe in front of it that so a human hand would not be able to get to it, and all this can be identified and changed simply using the virtual product prototype.

Just a technology

The company says existing users are still to some extent the early adopters. The largest installation it has at the moment is 20 seats, but Smith says that last year, 50% of the company’s sales were repeat business, indicating that once companies understand what the software can do for their business, they begin to roll it out to more users. Division has actively been trying to disassociate itself with the ‘virtual reality’ market, which has had some bad press recently due mainly to the fall of Virtuality Group Plc (CI No 3,154). In fact, the company denies there is such thing as a virtual reality ‘market’, insisting that VR is just a technology that needs to be applied. Smith says he has no fears over Division’s viability. The company has recently announced a couple of strategic partnerships, with PDM product data management companies Computervision Corp (CI No 3,051) and Unigraphics Inc. Both companies are integrating Division’s dVise into their product data management systems, and Smith says their considerable investment to make this possible underlines both companies’ confidence in Division and its future prospects. The company has seen sales grow steadily in the US, which account for around 45% of its business. It is seeing new applications for its tools, in areas such as after sales support and maintenance, and, unusually, in deconstructing and decommissioning, for example to determine how safely to decommission and deconstruct a nuclear power plant.

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