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Unity Forma for manufacturing: Creating a virtual machinery showroom

June 25, 2021 in Industry | 10 min. read

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Discover how HOMAG, one of the world’s top manufacturers for woodworking machinery, used Unity Forma to swiftly adapt their marketing tactics during the pandemic. Their agency partner iXtenda created a 3D interactive sales, planning, and marketing platform for generating product imagery and configurable machine models in a virtual showroom.

iXtenda leverages Unity to improve key processes for its manufacturing clients, from design planning for manufacturing sites, to how machines are marketed. The solution iXtenda provides for the HOMAG Group AG is called iVP – intelligent Virtual Platform – which works alongside Unity Forma. When iXtenda adopted Unity Forma for the HOMAG virtual showroom project, they achieved a 75% reduction in media production time and an 80% cost reduction for media creation. This enabled HOMAG to adapt quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic and engage their buyers in an immersive virtual world, when in-person trade shows were no longer possible.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we always kept an eye on the digital and economical sustainability of our trade fairs. Thanks to the possibilities of iVP and Unity Forma, we were able to create a digital platform in a fraction of time that we would have needed without them, to adapt. Thanks to that, we were able to be close to the customer despite contact and travel restrictions.” Thomas Storz, Manager Tradefairs & Events HOMAG Group AG

Catch the full iXtenda/HOMAG story in this webinar.

Preparing CAD data for marketing content

Unity Forma has an embedded data import tool (called Pixyz) that allows for the seamless ingestion of complex CAD data without the need for specialized skills. iXtenda describes this aspect of Unity Forma as “one of the most powerful workflows to integrate data in the iVP in any 3D or CAD format.” This solution enables service providers as well as construction departments to supply planning, sales, and marketing departments with up-to-date content and data.

The iXtenda team seamlessly imported the existing CAD data from iVP into Unity Forma and prepared the machine models with all of the configurable variables for the buyers to experience in the virtual showroom, such as machine configuration, function, positioning, and other customizable aspects. This single source of content makes it possible for HOMAG to do factory planning and to support sales, as well as to create marketing assets like images and videos.

More than 35 individual configurable machine models were created in iVP Showroom using Unity Forma.
Image courtesy of HOMAG and iXtenda / iVP. More than 35 individual configurable machine models were created in iVP Showroom using Unity Forma.

The virtual showroom: Live.HOMAG

The centerpiece of the Live.HOMAG project is the virtual showroom, created in Unity Forma by iXtenda. The virtual showroom runs via Unity’s cloud streaming service, Furioos, which lets anyone explore the interactive 3D space from their web browser. 

Within the virtual showroom, visitors can explore more than 35 HOMAG machines and try different configurations. By experiencing the machines virtually, HOMAG’s buyers can understand and experiment in real-time with not only machine placement within the planned space, but also configurations of individual machine components. This could be any variation, from height adjustments to modelling different runtime values for a given machine, all within the limits of what is possible for that machine in reality. 

Embedded within the virtual showroom are multiple media experiences, enabling visitors to engage with the product through educational videos, webinars, machine-specific training, information windows, and links to product web pages. 

HOMAG can also track visitor behavior inside the virtual showroom, with data that is fed via APIs to their customer relationship management (CRM) systems, allowing them to track prospect behaviors and identify potential leads. As this data is invaluable for the marketing and sales teams, this analytics technology is also incorporated into iXtenda’s iVP viewer for their benefit.

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Video courtesy of HOMAG and iXtenda, created in iVP Showroom using Unity Forma.

Building a supporting asset library with Forma Render

While iXtenda’s primary goal was to build HOMAG’s virtual showroom, HOMAG also needed supporting marketing materials, such as content for presentations, sales demonstrations, advertising animations, and more. 

iXtenda met this need easily through the use of Forma Render (experimental feature) within Unity Forma. Drawing on the models already configured within iVP Planning or iVP Showroom, the iXtenda team were able to use that single source of content to create assets on demand, suited for the various use cases.

Rendered images like these were created approximately 75% faster in iVP with Unity Forma
Image courtesy of HOMAG and iXtenda. Rendered images like these were created approximately 75% faster in iVP with Unity Forma.

The value of Unity Forma for B2B marketing

As you can see in this example of HOMAG and iXtenda, Unity Forma brings value across the marketing function. It provides an easy way to import complex CAD models, where end-user-ready models can be created with all configurable variables embedded. This single source of content feeds an efficient marketing production pipeline for high-quality assets including factory planning, visualization, 3D configurators, digital media, videos, animations, and images. Vitally, being able to track the behavior of visitors interacting in the virtual showroom provides crucial insight to the marketing and sales teams.

Using the in-tool Unity Forma publishing options, marketing assets can be easily exported to your platform of choice (mobile and desktop, WebGL or cloud streaming).

Benjamin Brostian, CEO of iXtenda, describes how Unity Forma improves the B2B marketing process:

  • Efficient workflows: “Our iVP Showroom solution came to life when Unity launched Forma. That was a massive accelerator for us as well as our clients. Within a single workflow, you are able to create consistent data for multiple use cases, reducing costs by up to 80%.” 
  • Faster time to market: “Foma brought so much value in our existing workflow: we reduced our media production time by around 75%.”
  • Multichannel publishing: “We have been able to create an entire showroom and exploit video animations and images for different platforms like CGI, WebGL and so on.”
  • Immersive buyer experiences: “In marketing, being one step ahead of the competition is invaluable. Using Unity Forma gives your buyers the added value of visual authenticity and a personal experience before and while they are purchasing your product.”
  • Increase market share: “Just imagine … it could be possible to increase your market share by just 0.5%, because you’re using this innovative technology for a personalized pre-sale experience for your client.”

“In the future there will be a coexistence between virtual and physical events. With iVP Showroom we can create and maintain a sustainable digital twin of every trade fair, showroom or specific product material, to support the sales team. Furthermore, it is a great solution for the customer to explore our portfolio and learn more about the solutions we are offering.” Daniel Hofius, Marketing Manager HOMAG Group AG

Watch the full webinar with iXtenda.

Created with Unity Forma in iVP
Image courtesy of HOMAG and iXtenda. Created with Unity Forma in iVP.

The manufacturing industry is already using real-time 3D technologies such as Unity Forma to market products in engaging, effective ways. Can you afford to miss out? Read more about Unity Forma, or contact our Unity experts to try it for free and find out how it could work for you.

June 25, 2021 in Industry | 10 min. read

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