Virtual Tour to the NUPCO Warehouse

VR tour to the NUPCO warehouse allows visiting all the key stages of receiving, storing and shipping products at the company's warehouse

Task

NUPCO, the largest procurement, re-exporting, warehousing and distribution company for pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and supplies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was tasked with creating a virtual tour of one of its warehouses.

The goal of creating a virtual reality application was the opportunity to present their logistics services without directly visiting the warehouses themselves by the company's customers.

Also, the goal of creating the application was to present its services at exhibitions and trade shows.

Quick facts

Technologies: Unreal Engine 4, 3D Studio Max, Maya, Zbrush, Marvelous Designer

Team: Project Manager, 2 3D Generalists, 3 Animators, Textures Designer, 2 Tech Artists,  Environment artist, 2 Unreal Developers, 2D Designer, Quality Assurance

Development time: 1230 hours

Design

The project team began by generating ideas for creating a scenario for the future application.

The main idea was to make the user of the virtual reality application feel present at the company's real warehouse. High detail and elaboration of the environment immerse the user in the atmosphere of work in the warehouse.

The competitive advantages of the NUPCO logistics service are provided by an “invisible” guide who accompanies the user during the whole virtual tour.

Features

Full digital warehouse duplicate.

One of the unique features of this application was the creation of a digital duplicate of a warehouse with an area of 6000 square meters.

The use of artificial intelligence.

In order for the warehouse to be live and the user to be able to fully immerse himself in the tour, the project team recreated the equipment and warehouse workers that performed the real warehouse procedures.

A system of roles was developed for virtual warehouse workers that allows artificial intelligence to control the behavior of workers.

As in real life – managers, supervisors, warehouse pickers, forklifts drivers in each zone of the virtual warehouse do their work that can be observed by the participant of the tour.

Interactive sound environment.

One of the significant elements that allows the user to completely immerse himself in the atmosphere of the warehouse is the interactive sound environment.

The user hears the sounds of working equipment, conversations of warehouse workers as if they were in a real warehouse. The fading sound of a loader leaving, the conversation between the supervisor and the customer – all this completely immerses the user in the atmosphere of a warehouse.

Locations of the warehouse:

    • Security zone. This is the first warehouse area the visitor enters when visiting a real property. In the virtual tour in this area, the high safety standards that are used at NUPCO’s warehouse were emphasized.
    • The user must wear a visitor’s vest, after that the warehouse employee using the fingerprint scanner passes the user to the main warehouse territory.
  • Inbound zone. This zone in which goods are received from suppliers and put into storage in the warehouse. The user can see managers and suppliers talking to each other, warehouse pickers carefully checking the delivery of products to the warehouse, the work of the equipment for the delivery of pallets from trucks with its further storage.
  • Security fridge zone. Since NUPCO works with the medical segment, special attention was paid to the storage area for strict reporting products. These are primarily drugs that include narcotic components. In order to once again emphasize the special security of this zone, the participant (user) was forbidden to even enter this zone using the virtual tour scenario. Everything is as in reality. Only a warehouse employee with a special certificate can visit it.
  • Fridge zone. To store ordinary products requiring special temperature conditions, several cooling zones function in the warehouse. The peculiarity of temperature storage with zoning according to the temperature level was also noted in a virtual tour.
  • Outbound zone. In this area, the collection and sending of goods stored in the warehouse to various medical institutions takes place. The virtual excursion accurately reproduced the work of this zone: delivering the cargo directly to the zone itself, checking and forming pallets, loading into vehicles and sealing trucks.
  • Auxiliary zone. This zone is a small complex of auxiliary rooms providing comfort for all employees working in the warehouse – a prayer room, a shower room, a dressing room, as well as a waiting room for the truck drivers and office rooms are important elements of the warehouse’s life.

Development

The development of this project took us 12 weeks in total and was carried out in the traditional agile methodology of Jasoren Company. 

The first stage of the development was the creation of the so-called blocking or procurement of a 3D warehouse environment. This stage is very important since the mistakes made at this stage can result in serious processing in the future. The project team successfully coped with this task, having recreated a draft of the 3D environment using drawings, as well as photo and video materials provided from the real warehouse.

On the basis of 3D blocking, the team began to study and to detail individual elements of the warehouse, and the team of programmers and those artists took up characters settled in the warehouse.

To use artificial intelligence in the behavior of virtual characters in the warehouse, a role system was created that, using program code, described the behavior of each character. For example, such things as what a manager can do and what a simple warehouse worker or forklift driver should do.

Artificial intelligence controlled the behavior and interaction of the characters according to the rules prescribed for each role.

As 3D assets were created by the graphic team, those artists assembled the finished premises by placing the necessary assets in certain zones, taking turns filling each of them. When the 3D environment was completely ready, the warehouse was filled with equipment and workers who moved, interacted, communicated using artificial intelligence that controlled the work of each character or unit of equipment.

The last stage of development was the connection of management interfaces in virtual reality, as well as the sound of the warehouse.

To reproduce the sounds of the warehouse, several types of sounds were used, which were harmoniously connected with each other in the framework of the project.

The basis was created by the sounds of the environment – fans, air conditioners, steps, and other sounds. As an addition, the speech of characters talking among themselves was added. These sounds were heard louder if the user was looking at them or walking near them and quieter if the equipment and characters were moved further away from the user.

The last step in working with the sound was the addition of the final voices of the virtual guide. Properly maintained the balance of all these three sound layers created the illusion that the user is present in a real warehouse and hears the story of a real employee who is conducting an excursion for him.

The final stage of the development was the addition of a separate 3D scene with an interactive menu, as well as polishing with carved testing.

Result

The result of the 3-month work of our team is a fantastic project that exceeded all customer expectations and perfectly fulfilled the task of promoting the company's warehouses without a need to visit them directly.

Using this solution made it possible to completely avoid the time expenses of customers associated with physical visits to the warehouses, while at the same time, it fully fulfilled the task of presenting the NUPCO warehouse services.