With growing skepticism that the Metaverse will “change everything” as Meta scrambles to produce viable immersive virtual reality, a new “next big thing” is on the horizon: The Industrial Metaverse.
In this first article of a new PYMNTS series on this fledgling use of private metaverse, we will look at how companies are embracing “digital twins” of their factories and facilities and the various use cases of Enterprise VR and Corporate Second Life.
See Also: Nvidia, Deloitte Beats Meta With Enterprise VR Offering
So what is an industrial metaverse and how is it used?
There are a few core types of the industrial metaverse, starting with collaborative spaces where designers across the country or around the world can collaborate on a single project in a single virtual space, or where marketers can unveil, showcase, or even sell virtual products – Test drive a car for example.
Read more: Nvidia and Deloitte beat Meta with enterprise VR offering
But another, and perhaps greatest, real value of the industrial metaverse is the digital twin, a replica of a factory or other facility where designs can be tested and production issues observed—and adjusted or fixed—in real time.
Nvidia Omniverse Enterprise Metaverse technology is used to create a digital twin of German rail operator Deutsche Bahn, capable of monitoring the operations of its entire network of 5,700 stations and 20,500 miles of track in real time.
The Living Metaverse
In contrast to meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s much-mocked Horizon Worlds, companies from Siemens and Boeing to Mercedes and BMW already have industrial metaverses up and running, Digital Engineering reported.
See Also: Zuckerberg’s Unwelcome Metaverse Stock Flaws in Meta’s Payments Policy
The Siemens Digital Native Factory in Nanjing, China, was built in the Metaverse as a digital twin before a single shovel went into the ground, the company said in a statement.
This “optimized the building and identified and mitigated potential problems early on,” it said. “Small and large planning mistakes that would previously have cost a lot of money and time were completely avoided. And we continue to harness the power of simulation during operations.”
Production capacity has increased by 200% and productivity by 20%, it said. With the photorealistic digital twin, he can create the optimal layout for construction robots, test the influence of temperature changes and even simulate the influence of defective parts.
“Products are extremely complex,” said Tony Hemmelgarn, president and CEO of Siemens Digital Industry Software, in a panel discussion led by VentureBeat at industrial metaverse maker Nvidia’s virtual GTC conference in September. “A car has hundreds of thousands of requirements going into it, or an airplane, or whatever. How do you change a requirement without knowing how it virtually affects everything else? If you can’t represent software, you can’t represent electronics, or the mechanical design, or even better, the manufacturing and automation and all the things that go into building that product, you really can’t simulate it.”
In December, Boeing announced that it plans to build its next big plane, the 777X, using digital twin technology to create 3D virtual representations of the plane and its engines, allowing engineers to design and modify designs in real time to simulate and test, Reuters said. Each design is supported by a “digital thread” that goes deep into the supply chain, with individual airline requirements, details on millions of parts, each design change and the thousands of pages of certification documents that need to be attached, she added.
It’s about “changing the way we work across the company,” Boeing’s chief engineer Greg Hyslop told Reuters, adding that 70% of quality issues stem from design issues. “You get speed, you get improved quality, better communication, and better responsiveness when problems arise.”
And hopefully avoiding disasters like the bug that downed several 737 MAX planes in 2018 and 2019, shutting down production for nearly two years as more and more potential problems were discovered.
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