How the Industrial Metaverse Will Revolutionize Manufacturing: Your Complete Guide
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How the Industrial Metaverse Will Revolutionize Manufacturing: Your Complete Guide

Manufacturing in the industrial metaverse is changing long-established industry processes. Companies are increasingly developing their products and designs in virtual environments.

Manufacturers who don’t digitally transform physical products through metaverse simulations may soon find it difficult to compete.

What is the metaverse?

what is the metaverse?

Understanding the industrial metaverse requires a quick look at the latest trending, difficult-to-understand topic: the metaverse itself. It’s right up there with blockchain and non-fungible tokens. It is broadly understood as a network of 3D virtual worlds blended with representations of reality.

As the metaverse forms, it just may well replace all aspects of the internet we are familiar with: websites, apps, and services. Instead, we may see a series of shared 3D environments that exist in parallel with the physical world where people can explore and interact.

Businesses are already jumping into this new territory for marketing purposes. However, applications of the metaverse go way beyond enhancing brand experiences with digital spaces.

While this may affect our online experiences significantly, it has industrial applications that will change virtually every aspect of how goods are made and distributed.

Manufacturing in the future will see increasingly less research and development in the physical world. Instead, manufacturers will be able to create virtual spaces for product design in the industrial metaverse. Digital twins of products will first be designed and tested in these virtual spaces.

What this means is that makers will create digital copies of spaces or products and link them to physical assets.

Let’s begin there.

Digital twin technology in the industrial metaverse

What is digital twin in manufacturing

A digital twin is a digital representation of a physical object or system. For example, it could represent a truck engine, wind turbine, or even a factory. Digital twins are created through the integration of data and information from various sources, such as sensors, enterprise applications, and external systems.

This model is emerging as a technology that can be used to predict the performance of physical systems based on the data they produce in their digital form. This will enable makers to test new ideas for how to improve their systems before they are implemented in the physical world.

By using concepts of the metaverse to extend digital twin technology, manufacturing companies can also generate precise 3D virtual renditions of their factories or facilities.

This is known as the industrial metaverse and is considered so revolutionary that one industry insider referred to it as “the most competitive battlefield for industries in the future.”

Many feel that it represents the next industrial revolution referred to as Industry 4.0.

Digital twinning is supported by the internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, AI, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) among others.

Automotive manufacturers such as Ford are utilizing this concept. Ford produces seven digital twins for every model of vehicle it produces.

What does the industrial metaverse mean for manufacturing?

A digital world based on real-time data will allow manufacturing companies to create multiple versions of their concepts, products, and processes.

Here are several ways manufacturing companies can utilize the metaverse.

Optimizing the production processes

the metaverse on manufacturing

Expanding the digital twin concept with the metaverse will allow companies to simulate countless versions of factories. They can experiment with layout, downsizing, upscaling, or even automation. They could then select the most optimal version before making any physical adjustments to their facilities.

Companies are already implementing this through concepts of extended reality (XR), which is a blanket term that includes virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR).

BMW has already generated a virtual factory that simulates the production line for its electric vehicle drivetrains. They also reproduced their entire production line digitally to ensure optimization before they constructed an actual factory in Bavaria.

Smart wearables for workers for improved product designs

Technology that supports the industrial metaverse also extends to smart wearables, such as glasses, headsets, tablets, and phones that can deliver real-time information and knowledge to the workplace.

Imagine creating a digital twin of a product and using VR and AR to drag and drop assets into the simulation like in Marvel’s Iron Man films.

This would allow for limitless iterations of a product to develop safer, optimal, and more cost-effective products without the lengthy processes involved with physical testing or material development.

The industrial metaverse is making this a reality.

XR technology is already being used to help production workers access information while their hands are occupied. Microsoft’s HoloLens headset allows people to interact with holograms in physical space. This means they can see and handle holographic images in the air or combined with real physical objects.

Duplicating versions of products and testing them also allows makers to spot malfunctions and defects before they occur in the real world, thus avoiding costly recalls or safety hazards for consumers. Furthermore, the inherent connectedness of the process would enhance collaboration across regions by creating communal workspaces for development.

Airbus has deployed smart headsets to test designs virtually before actually manufacturing them.

“Mixed reality can help us to increase quality, safety, and security,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, the vice president of engineering at Airbus. “The level of human error is significantly reduced, and in aerospace, increased quality is increased safety—and needless to say, security goes with that.”

The nature of real-time data could also provide a path for constant improvement of products by incorporating user feedback instantly for model upgrades.

Improved technical support with the industrial metaverse

Factories often have extremely complex equipment that requires specialists for troubleshooting. With AR, they could provide remote assistance and diagnostics. This could even take the form of digitally overlaying an image in an augmented or virtual space onto the equipment, like an arrow or highlight to indicate to a local worker the area of focus on a machine.

Essentially, specialists could expand their service without traveling. Imagine how much easier it would be to provide technical support to remote areas that are geographically isolated like an offshore oil rig, or disaster areas that have become inaccessible.

GE is currently using smart glasses to support workers assembling wind turbines. The glasses allow them to interact with experts for real-time assistance and troubleshooting. The company reported a 34% improvement in productivity among technicians after initial use.

The future is coming

The metaverse is only in its infancy and is already disrupting long-established manufacturing processes. It will be up to the prerogative of companies to invest in the technology and establish a foundation that will allow them to adapt smoothly for future change.

The question for most manufacturers will be how the industrial metaverse can best support them.

Mitsubishi Fuso is interested in hearing how you think concepts of the metaverse can best be applied to commercial vehicle manufacturing. Where is the best place to start? What does the future hold? Drop us a comment below.


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