The generation and practical use of plans for manual assembly using immersive virtual reality

J. M. Ritchie, R. G. Dewar, J. E L Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


The preparation of assembly plans for manufactured goods is a major bottleneck in the time it takes to bring many new products to market. Computer aided assembly planning (CAAP) systems have been the subject of considerable research in recent years without achieving significant up-take in manufacturing industry. This paper proposes an alternative approach based on the adoption of immersive virtual reality, which is used here to produce practical downstream manufacturing information. The product is assembled from computer aided design (CAD) models of its components by experienced assembly operators working in a virtual environment. The operators' actions are monitored and assembly sequence plans are automatically generated by the system. In the research described in this paper, the plans produced for an advanced electromechanical product were then used by a second group of participants to demonstrate the functionality of the system in an industrial environment. The development of virtual reality-based assembly planning carries with it the opportunity not only to shorten the product innovation cycle but also to capitalize on the experience of assembly operators and bring this to bear much earlier in the design process. © IMechE 1999.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-474
Number of pages14
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Assembly planning
  • Virtual environments
  • Virtual reality


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