Virtual prototyping requires different knowledge and preparations than physical prototyping. Virtual reality technologies are mature enough to use in product development process. Technology, however, is not enough. In addition to technology there is a need for know how to use it.
By using developed Virtual prototyping implementation maturity model (VIRMA) companies are able to understand what is needed when employing virtual protyping. Maturity of several different categories need to be acknowledged: (1) understanding of business impacts and opportunities; (2) definition of product process including lifecycle; (3) description of virtual prototyping in product process; (4) level of used virtual prototyping technology; (5) support from enterprise infrastructure; (6) human resources for virtual prototyping technology management, and (7) knowledge of attitudes and motivations in enterprise culture and organization. VIRMA evaluates companies’ maturity in these categories and afterwards companies can develop areas needed for efficient virtual prototyping use.
Virtual prototyping enables analysing and testing of prototypes with the user in early phase of product design. In addition, it decreases the need for several physical prototypes. These benefits can be achieved only with the knowledge of the efficient virtual prototyping use. Cargotec is one company with whom VIRMA has been piloted and developed further. Participation to VIRMA sessions has offered Cargotec a chance to promote internally the important role of virtual prototyping with help from VTT experts. People that have participated discussions around the maturity model have gained better understanding of the significant meaning of virtual prototyping for product development processes. With that understanding it has been easier to drive through virtual environment development projects. Proof of that are the two product development simulators and a visualization environment that have been established to a technology and competence center of Cargotec.
Susanna Aromaa, VTT
Hannu Santahuhta, Cargotec
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Cargotec Finland Oyj