The paper elucidates a process integration method in which the virtual reality (VR) application moves beyond being just a visualisation tool to functioning as an interface for collaboration. The central module of this system is the so-called session manager. The session manager co-ordinates the collaboration of several authorised individuals and various software tools all working together on one development project. The session manager is at the centre of the product data management (PDM) system managing product structure, product documents and project state. The associated VR system synchronously presents the current state of the project. It is thus possible to visualise changes in geometry, appearance or structure in real time.
In this way, VR can be integrated into a heterogeneous system consisting of CAD workstations and simulation applications. Integration is based on a bi-directional link among all applications via the PDM system. Thus, it is possible to use and represent not only the product’s design and structure, but also its non-geometric information using PDM. Additionally, the persons working with it may select product components in VR and assign tasks to workstations or persons, since, in VR, relevant information from the PDM is available.