Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality will Change Manufacturing

AR and VR has well and truly arrived in consumer products, with products like Pokémon GO and PlayStation VR leading the way, but what impact will it have on industrial, commercial and manufacturing design? We decided to find out.

Firstly what’s the difference between VR and AR

Virtual reality is a virtual scenario simulates the real environment but it bears no relation to the environment the user is in, nor does it interact with the real world.

Whereas Augmented Reality overlays or blends the real world, as seen through our device’s camera etc, with digital components. With AR, users can interact with virtual elements in the real world, and are able to distinguish between the two.

What are the Manufacturing applications of VR and AR? What are the benefits?

Industry-wise, the applications are plentiful.

With Augmented reality, the most famous and widely spread are those applications that help workers in manufacturing, maintenance, support, verification and quality control.

Wearable technologies are the most commonly implemented, especially when on-site, the factory floor or even when the manufacturing is happening in a completely different location. This technology is allowing people to be in control when control seems unlikely.

With virtual reality the ability to simulate a project, view a component as part of an assembly means that data and visualisation can be gained and as a result improve the design. It is possible to simulate tasks in extreme environments and in huge infrastructures. Industries such as medicine, science, and education where virtual reality are experiencing a big impact from these technologies.

The most important benefits of these technologies are cost saving, time optimisation, visualisation, flexibility and scalability.

What are the short-term goals in the application of AR and VR?

On one side, there are companies that are putting money forward in their digital transformation processes, and a crucial aspect of it will be the adoption of virtual and augmented reality solutions. But due to the lack of expertise, the outcome can sometimes leave companies disillusioned. One of the most critical elements of embedding these technologies to maximum effect is the training process of delivering and using the technology.

However, there are some brilliant hardware and software developments that are making the introduction of these technologies easier and quicker to roll out.



For more information about AR and VR contact us

Bibby Offshore Unearth Cost-Savings with Hardware Solution

bibby offshoreBibby Offshore takes advantage of Tech-as-a-Service to become more connected

Customer Profile

Bibby Offshore is a leading subsea service provider to the oil and gas industry. Founded in 2003, with headquarters in Aberdeen and a further UK office in Newcastle, the company’s focus is to deliver a high-quality, cost-effective and safety conscious service to the offshore energy industry.

Business Need

Projects within the oil and gas industry have traditionally been slow burning, with timescales and budgets often over-running due to the nature of the task. In recent years, the industry has changed with companies now aiming to work at their most cost-efficient level yet. To continue to compete and meet these expectations, Bibby Offshore introduced a ‘Business Excellence Team’ into the company.

As a result, the team identified that an area of the business in which they could save money, whilst at the same time become more effective, was IT.
For the last ten years the company had procured its hardware and software products from various suppliers. The engineers were limited to working on designs using fixed workstations in the office. However, this was not ideal, as they were often required to work remotely during offshore projects for extended periods of time.

The Solution

Bibby Offshore consulted with its trusted IT supplier, Quadra Solutions and asked them to look at more flexible solutions, possibly with the option to purchase via a subscription purchase scheme. Keeping in mind that the company needed a responsive computer with good memory capacity that could be easily docked and undocked, Quadra recommended the HP Zbook mobile workstations complete with docking stations. The laptops provided a cost-effective, powerful mobile solution that could be purchased via Tech Data’s Tech-as-a-Service division, which specialises in subscription agreements for products and technical services.

The HP Zbooks are packed full of features to provide real-time visualisation of multi-layered files and projects, with upto 16 GB of high-speed memory and 4 TB storage and therefore deemed an ideal solution for Bibby Offshore’s demanding on-the-road design projects. This option also enabled Bibby Offshore to reap the rewards of buying via a subscription agreement. The 3 Year Subscription Plan provided by Tech Data’s Tech-as-a-Service provides Bibby Offshore with a far more efficient, mobile solution for its design engineers at a significantly reduced cost.

“Tech Data was very knowledgeable about the products. The mobile laptops are fast and efficient and the subscription payment plan is extremely cost effective – it’s easy to manage and provides Bibby Offshore with access to the latest technologies and support services.”
Mike Hacking, MFG Project Manager, Quadra Solutions

Benefits of subscription payment plan

Tech Data’s Tech-as-a-Service subscription offering provided a solution that completely removed the need to invest working capital into a depreciating technology asset, whilst significantly reducing the overall cost of ownership. At the end of the 3-year term customers like Bibby benefit from the residual value associated with Tier 1 brand technologies from the outset by using the reduction in overall cost to fund additional software, services or product.
This exclusive subscription offering also enables customers to take advantage of related technology solution upgrades at
any time to support requirements as they continue to evolve over time. Customers that subscribe to Tech-as-a-Service can
immediately secure the latest technology, software, training and related services without capital expenditure at much lower
cost and without the overhead of lifecycle management, data erasure or end of life disposal.

  • Combine hardware, software and services into a low-cost subscription
  • Access the latest technology
  • Optimise IT budgets and simplify asset management
  • Reduce complexity in IT support
  • Simplify their bills and realise significant cost savings 20 x HP Elitebook 1030 X360 Windows


Simon Lee, IT Manager, Bibby Offshore, confirmed;
“Quadra and Tech Data’s advice was spot on, the machines enable our engineers to stay connected wherever their project takes them. This in turn, enables us to deliver competitive, timely, cost effective solutions to our customers. The Tech-as-a-Service subscription payment agreement was right for us at this time, plus we have the added comfort of knowing that we can easily refresh and upgrade our technology in the future.”

For more information about our Hardware and Leasing options contact us.

CAM350 2018 Release now available

CAM350 Release 2018 now available

DownStream’s most ambitious release to date, Release 2018, is now available.

Verification, optimisation and output generation with CAM350

CAM350 is the industry de facto standard for verification, optimisation and output generation to efficiently and effectively drive PCB fabrication.

Problems arising during PCB fabrication can drastically impact product schedules, result in costly design re-spins, and require modifications to the design that might compromise the design’s integrity and intent.


CAM350 offers a complete suite of tools, from design through fabrication, streamlining the transition of engineering data into successful, physical PCBs. Inspecting, preparing and validating the PCB design prior to release can result in a significant increase in efficiency, less risk of design re-spin, and, most importantly, successful and efficiently built electronic products.

Key Features for Release 2018 include:

  •  3D manufacturing data visualisation – Allows modelling of imported Gerber, Drill, ODB++, or IPC-2581 data into a 3D PCB facsimile as well as model the 3D PCB on a fabrication or assembly panel.
  • 3D Design View Port – Quickly switch between 2D and 3D views using the new 3D Design View port.
  • New 2D/3D PCB Stack UP visualizer – A “What if” sandbox to orientate artwork layers, insert construction materials, define via technologies, and add thickness and other material attributes in a stack up environment to ensure the 3D rendering has been implemented.
  • 3D documentation – Use the 3D PCB model in documents to further clarify design intent or augment traditional 2D documents.
  • Support for 3D objects in PDF export – Users can export the 3D model or 3D document in Adobe PDF format.
  • Cross Product Integration – Release 2018 creates an integrated 2D/3D manufacturing data preparation environment that allows CAM350 and BluePrint to easily share data between manufacturing data optimisation and analysis with PCB documentation.
  • Major GUI facelift to CAM350 and DFMStream to streamline menus and dialogs as well as increase overall ease-of-use and productivity.

For more information on CAM350 contact us

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