In addition, VR assists Freudenberg in its sustainability efforts by saving on scrap elastomers.
"When you are not using actual material for training purposes, there is waste reduction, energy savings and sustainability achieved through making the process more repeatable," Gerding said. "When manufacturing does begin in reality, fewer mistakes are made there as well."
While supply chain issues remain, VR helps ensure that end-use products are going out the door.
"What we cannot mitigate directly is a shortage of material and components," Gerding said. "Here, at least if we do not get all the material we want delivered, we are not wasting it on training. The turnover is sellable, workable product."
Perhaps most importantly, VR is helping Freudenberg hit the all-important "takt" time, a tool for setting the pace and rhythm of the manufacturing process and aligning it with customer demand.
Now, after three days of VR training (in most cases), operators are able to hit takt time, which increases manufacturing efficiency "by a multiple," Gerding said.
"This is in line with Freudenberg's commitment to sustainability," he said. "Against the backdrop of global supply chain disruptions in recent years, implementing the VR training has been particularly beneficial.
"We are 100-percent dedicated to serving our medical customers, and this demonstrates that dedication. The longer vision, the longer-term commitment, is the stance we tend to adopt."
Freudenberg Medical brought in about $358.5 million of the $12.8 billion in Freudenberg-NOK sales in 2022.
Besides catheters, the division makes hypotubes, special needles, medical balloons and coatings for minimally invasive procedures, as well as precision molded parts and medical tubing.