I’m Angela Lang (AL) and I’m pleased to chair this first in a series of articles by 3D Studio Blomberg on the topic of Visual Transformation. I’m here with Pontus Blomberg (PB), Founder and VP Business Development at 3D Studio Blomberg and Dr Michael Rygol (MR), Managing Director of Chrysalisforge (strategic partner of 3D Studio Blomberg). So, to kick off, Michael, could you please explain what is meant by Visual Transformation?

MR: Around the globe, numerous enterprises are embarking upon strategies that fall under what is commonly referred to as Digital Transformation (DT). First, let’s be clear what we mean by DT. I prefer the definition: “The reworking of the products, processes and strategies within an organisation by leveraging current technologies”. This will clearly be an all-encompassing strategic landscape that may harness technologies such as AI or blockchain amongst others. I describe Visual Transformation, essentially a cornerstone within the larger DT landscape, as “The reworking and improvement of processes, strategies and the digital toolchain to leverage current 3D technologies”.

PB: This is exactly it. You know, we meet and work with numerous companies who have made significant investments in 3D Mechanical CAD technologies in order to optimise the design and manufacturing of their products. To a lesser extent, they’ll also employ enterprise-wide PLM to manage these processes. However, in many cases, such companies are not gaining the full return-on-investment from their 3D CAD models. Often, the only interaction with the 3D CAD data is by the design engineers themselves or, sometimes, at best, the manufacturing engineers.

AL: You raise an interesting point, Pontus, and we’ll come back and explore some of the reasons why this is the case in a future article but for now, let’s dig a little deeper. Could you please explain in more detail why this is such an important topic?

MR: Put simply, the constraining a company’s business operations by limiting widespread access to their 3D assets, such companies are missing out on significant opportunities to leverage this data to improve not only a broad number of business processes but also, very importantly, the experiences of their customers.

PB: At 3D Studio Blomberg (3DS) we help companies to try and understand this value by means of our “Visual Business” strategic model. In the same way that humans are extremely effective with processing highly visual information, especially when presented in 3D, we promote the benefits that companies can achieve by adopting visual strategies to transform and harness 3D content across their operations, product lifecycles and beyond.

AL: Could you please describe some examples of what you mean by Visual Transformation?

MR: Naturally I’m unable to provide names for reasons of confidentiality but I can speak in generic terms. One large manufacturer, for example, invested in a visual transformation strategy to promote the easy access of lightweight 3D data derived from the original 3D CAD data, delivered from the managed PLM environment. This lightweight data is now used by thousands of users within that organisation and now forms a standard component of many of their business processes from design reviews and configuration management, through to supplier collaboration, product documentation and more. Supported by robust and automated processes for the creation, management and distribution of the lightweight 3D data, it is fair to say that the use of 3D across the enterprise has transformed their business!

We use the term Visual Data Backbone to refer to the delivery of derived visual 3D content to many participants and roles within and beyond the enterprise. This managed and automated flow of content also incorporates various forms of feedback data to enable an extremely rich form of enterprise communication and collaboration.

PB: A depiction of this Visual Data Backbone and the processes enabled by this is summarised in the graphic below. And, it’s also important to realise that this lightweight data is not only much smaller, and therefore faster to deliver and display on many different devices, but is also stripped of much of the original intellectual property and therefore amenable for distribution outside corporate firewalls to customers and partners. An added benefit right there!

AL: So, what other technologies and business processes can benefit from such a visual transformation?

MR: Well, in addition to traditional web-based interaction with visual 3D data, Visual Transformation also opens the door to the use of other technologies and solutions such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

PB: Precisely. This approach to Automated Content Transformation, as we refer to the automated delivery of lightweight 3D data, enables adoption at enterprise scale. Augmented Reality, for example, is now rapidly gaining traction as a highly efficient way of supporting numerous business activities. These include streamlining service procedures by presenting interactive 3D content, instructions, and, often, live IoT data, in the hands of the service technician with the appropriate physical product context. Additionally, sales activities benefit from having a compelling yet portable means of demonstrating product capabilities at minimal cost and convenience but not without a robust and automated process to support the adoption at scale, ‘beyond the cool demo’ as we say. Visual transformation is when an organisation controls, handles and distributes their existing 3D data and then connects it with other data such as IoT, product data, AI and more. This is then utilized across the enterprise and consumed within existing and emerging technologies like AR, VR and 3D Web.

AL: Thank you Pontus and Michael. This has been a fascinating and informative introduction to VT and I’m sure it’ll be of interest to many readers out there.

Join us next time when we’ll learn more about the perceived challenges of Visual Transformation and how they are being overcome.