Metaverse technologies allow for digital representations of people, places, and things that are persistent and connected to aspects of the real world. These metaverse applications have dominated the tech world for a few years, but the term has been around for much longer.
The industrial metaverse has a lot of potential for business applications. One way companies are using it is for digital twins. A digital twin is a virtual copy of an existing business function, like a manufacturing line. This allows businesses to test how different scenarios affect productivity, safety, and external environments. And they can do all this without stopping production or putting workers in danger.
Let’s examine how immersive interactions enabled by metaverse applications can impact industrial and manufacturing operations and drive better customer and employee experiences.
Metaverse in manufacturing – Potential applications
Here are five ways that metaverse applications, supported by augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) and machine learning (ML), will change manufacturing in the next few years.
- Quicker and safer employee training leads to better employee experiences
Experiential learning is beneficial to learning how to operate machinery, build models, perform computations, use equipment, review scenarios, and understand concepts. By combining VR with learning theory, data science, and spatial design, we can create immersive, effective learning experiences for employees.
The industrial metaverse is a powerful experiential learning platform that can be used train workers in highly skilled industries.
By creating a virtual environment, metaverse applications provide a more realistic way for trainees to practice their skills without the risk of making potentially fatal or costly mistakes. This is especially useful for employees who operate heavy machinery, as incorrect operation could put workers in danger.
Using immersive experiences for employee safety, monitoring production equipment, server farms, processes, and troubleshooting machinery makes it easier to manage.
Employees no longer need to go into risky work areas physically. They can now use digital twins of physical and virtual environments to handle break-fixes of equipment, remediate malfunctions, and adjust instruments to the right specifications.
- Virtual plant simulations help find faults before they occur in reality
Metaverse for manufacturing promises to bring down the time to value, cost, and the risk of faulty decision-making. Digital twins, or detailed virtual replicas of physical products and scenarios, are highly analytical tools that use mathematical models to simulate a real-world plant or product. This visualization uses real-time data feeds from IoT devices and sensors and proactively creates “what if” analyses and simulations to predict performance.
As the digital twin collects and analyzes information from the physical world, it becomes smarter and more adept, eventually creating its metaverse. In the metaverse, companies can test out new ideas and ways of doing business in a low-risk environment. As a result, manufacturing companies can maintain high levels of productivity while also encouraging innovation across the organization.
- Product design collaboration virtually around the world
Design collaboration by leveraging the industrial metaverse could be a transformative experience where distributed teams use the interactive and real-time immersive experiences. Designers, as well as suppliers, can meet in virtual spaces to discuss ideas and explore 3D representations of their design or the integration of components.
In response to the pandemic, many companies have begun to invest in virtual reality technology as a way for design engineers to collaborate remotely from anywhere in the world.
With VR-enabled metaverse applications, and design engineers can work together in a virtual design space to create products virtually. This allowed for social distancing and increased safety during the pandemic and provides a more flexible and efficient way of working that can be beneficial even after the pandemic ends.
With haptics, 3D technology, and virtualization, customers and businesses can engage in product design sessions from anywhere in the world. Hybrid working teams can collaborate on new product development, find the right manufacturer, and look at innovative designs and functionality.
- Better customer experience with real-time immersive demos
In the industrial metaverse, companies could get an accurate 3D virtual representation of the plant or facility along with the production lines for the manufacturing of different products. Contract manufacturers can offer their clients virtual experiences to look at production lines and products created, review progress on orders and get intel to manage their demand-supply planning.
Real estate developers, home buyers, site engineers, and manufacturing companies can verify progress at construction sites and try modeling different scenarios for layouts and modifications before making decisions using immersive technologies.
Furthermore, furniture manufacturers can offer customers an immersive experience with their websites, where customers can design their living spaces and find furniture and fixtures that appeal to them.
Metaverse for manufacturing – the future is already here
Adopting new technologies can be a challenge for manufacturers as they move slowly towards being tech-savvy, but experts in the metaverse and AR/VR space say the opportunities are too great to ignore. These technologies can help manufacturers improve efficiency, communication, and quality control.
With endless possibilities, the metaverse is here to stay, and companies will benefit from embracing it sooner than later. They should prioritize investing in technologies and platforms that will help them adapt to future changes as this new landscape evolves. These would include vital technologies like the digital twins that will be a central component of the industrial metaverse.