Swift is the UK’s largest manufacturer of touring caravans, motorhomes and holiday homes. Since their first touring caravan was built over 50 years ago, the company has grown to a workforce 1200 who delivered a turnover of £267 million in 2017. The Swift Group design team are arguably the most innovative and creative in the industry, often paving the way for future designs of leisure vehicles.
Majenta Solutions have worked with Swift Group for over ten years, supplying them with their design software and training requirements. Since 2008 we have seen the design team develop under the Design Director Chris Milburn, who, with an automotive background, runs his design studio with a clear automotive influence. Swift Group’s design requirements have grown significantly from their initial Autodesk Alias licenses and training to the adoption of VR through Autodesk VRED Professional, during the different design gateways. Now on to the more recent adoption of Autodesk 3ds Max to provide high-resolution interior renderings to help communicate design intent and reduce reliance on physical prototypes.
Swift Group are recognised for their innovative, industry-leading designs and are continually striving towards designing both desirable exteriors and functional interiors. They have the tools required to design the exterior and interior of their products, however, to design a space to be functional and aesthetically pleasing, the design team need to be able to visualise their designs and layouts.
“Our design development follows a full CAD process, and we are therefore able to design with a clear view of ergonomic space claims and accurate dimensions. However, the weakness of the CAD process is the inability to physically experience the space that you have designed at this early design stage.”
As Swift Group are a long-standing customer of our industrial design and visualisation products and services, including Alias and VRED, we were able to support them with exploring VR. It was clear that VR would be hugely beneficial in the space planning and design review stages of product development.
As VRED was already an integral part of Swift Group’s design and review process, alongside interior and exterior visualisation, the initial investment to combine VR into the design process was not as substantial from both a cost and workload perspective. The initial solution included an upgrade to VRED Pro, combined with an HTC Vive Headset and a custom PC, capable of supporting the increased graphics requirements for VR workflows.
“VR helped justify an upgrade to VRED-Pro software, which now performs numerous roles within our design process and not just VR.”
The solution developed by Majenta Solutions, incorporating software, workshops and training, provided a VR toolkit that Swift Group could instantly adopt into their design workflow. The design team instantly created a space within the design studio, enabling them to use the VR hardware during reviews; giving them the option to walk around their models and experience interior concepts.
The recent addition of Autodesk 3ds Max, allows the design team to generate fine detail renders for interior layouts, supplying increased surface quality and analysis. Including 3ds Max into their toolset provides more precise and defined 3D models for VR content when reviewing designs.
“The ability to review in virtual reality has brought significant confidence to our design decision-making process. We have linked this with mixed reality by using typical items of furniture such as seats to enhance the feeling of realism in the model.”
Introducing 3ds Max into their design toolset allows a greater degree of detail into Swift Group’s 3D models. With its advanced texturing assignment and editing, Swift Group can now design the textile elements of a caravan or motorhome’s interior in detail and embed them into the 3D model. It also allows more depth of detail, providing sharper lines and accurate shadows.
The design team at Swift were able to adopt VR almost immediately as most of their projects were already in VRED.
“VR brings the digital world into the real world. It is like stepping into your computer and experiencing the design from a different perspective.”
Swift Group’s VR tools are in use on a daily basis, improving the designers’ understanding of the products that they are investing time in. The increased awareness that reviewing designs in VR has brought to space planning is evidently invaluable, and Swift Group have seen the value in VR adoption and an ROI already.
“The use of VR has allowed us to verify specific design decisions before physical prototypes, reducing rework and time constraints at latter stages of our projects.”
“Majenta Solutions supported our initial VR interest through workshops, where they took our requirements on board and demonstrated the value that VR could bring to our design process. The purchase of the equipment and subsequent training was all managed by Majenta Solutions.”
We continue to work with Swift Group to continually support and improve the efficiency of their design process, ensuring that their investments in new software and technological advances will be beneficial to their workflow and their end products.
“My advice for other companies considering VR investment would be that as a business, if you have already embraced CAD design and visualization, then VR is a simple and logical extension of this process. It has numerous applications across many industries and disciplines. Our system is on hand for any of our designers to use as a review tool daily.”