Metaverse, a true industry transformation tool?

Metaverse is not reserved for video games, social networks or Web3: it also has many industrial applications and already the first use cases.

However, to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the metaverse, companies will have to face the challenge of industrialization and go beyond the POC stage (Proof of concept).

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The industrial world has long been accustomed to working with 3D models, especially in areas such as luxury craft, which increasingly models its products virtually before manufacturing them. These technologies now find applications throughout the entire life cycle of a product, from the design phase – with PLM solutions – to maintenance and after sales. With the industrial metaverse, the integration of 3D technologies and data is now pushed even further…

From digital twin to metaverse…

Digital twins – digital doubles of a product, a production line, an operator, a factory or all four at once – are the first bricks of the industrial metaverse. Connected to the real world, these tools are particularly useful for accelerating product design, simulating different configurations, predicting changes in production lines, shortening production cycles or gaining flexibility in the supply chain.

Visualization of digital twin using augmented reality and/or virtual reality technologies, now achieves a level of precision and realism that makes virtual production line simulations and projections tangible. Thus, an uninformed spectator can no longer distinguish between a 3D sequence and a filmed sequence, this realism of the virtual universe makes possible the inclusion of all interlocutors. These faithful virtual representations also allow the training of artificial intelligence in hypothetical situations simulated in the digital twin, helping in particular to improve autonomous robotics by improving plant supervision and its safety.

Thus, having a digital model or a digital twin is not enough to create a metaverse. To do this, a collaborative approach must be adopted, opening it up to all the company’s actors – subcontractors, suppliers, partners, even customers – but also to the various internal trades, even if this requires breaking down many silos .

Traceability and value sharing

With an ecosystem vision, the industrial metaverse is presented as a means of sharing company data in a secure and traceable way to facilitate the design, manufacture and maintenance of products. For many manufacturers, the development of the metaverse offers the opportunity to create a real platform for exchange and collaboration in order to improve operational efficiency.

By integrating Web3 logic and blockchain, this collaborative space also answers the issues of traceability and value sharing between stakeholders, making it possible to increase, or even monetize, the use of each person’s digital assets and content. A subcontractor or supplier can, for example, integrate 3D models of the spare parts it produces in its customer’s warehouse and be rewarded for each use of them, thanks to the possibilities offered by NFTs. These new capabilities are a powerful accelerator for the adoption of additive manufacturing and 3D printing.

Connection to the production line

Connectivity with the production chain is also essential, it makes it possible to upload real production data to the metaverse, use digital twins to identify optimizations, but above all, in case alarms are raised in the physical chain, to simulate the various . scenarios in the virtual world before applying the changes to the physical chain.

In this way, the virtual realistic representation mentioned above will be able to grow directly from a visualization of the different metrics and their impacts on the production chain with a projected representation of the consequences of these KPI evolutions.

Going beyond the POC and POV stage

Aeronautical industry and car manufacturers – like BMW, with Nvidia and its Omniverse solutions – have already made good progress in this reflection, digitizing their processes and uniting their ecosystem of partners around the same digital platform. However, the industrialization of this type of approach still faces many obstacles and very often experiments remain at the POC (proof of concept) or POV (proof of value) stage.

However, very soon, the issue of industrialization of the production of digital assets will arise within companies, leading to the creation of real production chains of digital products. Interest? Provide content for metaverse industry, but also the general public.

This scaling will require connecting the metaverse to the IS (information system), the heart of the company, by making historically separate data sources communicate together – such as CAD (computer-aided design) and PLM data. (product life cycle).

Finally, like any emerging technology, the metaverse has many promises that remain to be confirmed. Thus, without adequate answers to the questions of choice of metaverse, architecture and relations with IS, identity and security and finally an appropriate legislative framework, its use in an industrial context risks being limited.

The task is complex, but it is the condition that must be met to create a true digital continuity of these services.

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