Manufacturing in the Metaverse
The Metaverse will impact all facets of our lives, not least our work and social lives. But it will also have a significant impact across all industries, from the extraction and production of raw material, to manufacturing, construction and service industries. Like the education, healthcare, restaurant and construction industries, and journalism, the manufacturing industry will be impacted by the Metaverse, and is already being impacted by Metaverse technologies.
The manufacturing industry has, historically, been an early adopter of new technologies. There’s even a whole discipline, manufacturing technology, dedicated to the tools, systems, and methods of science, production, and engineering to assist in industrial production and manufacturing processes. Historic advances in manufacturing have generally been led by automation, which today is a central, crucial element of almost all manufacturing processes.
Recent advances in manufacturing technology include the adoption of cloud storage, 24-hour manufacturing operations, and sensing, measurement, and process control. Cloud storage allows companies to ensure that all information is backed up so that, if any computer crashes, it can be recovered from the cloud. Industrial robots, which are able to perform fine precision repeatable processes, allow manufacturing organizations to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, today’s industrial robots are outfitted with sensing, measurement, and process control transmitters that make it easier and more reliable to allow machines to operate without personnel, allow for the automation of detection and response to incidents, and enable products to be tracked from inception all the way to the point of delivery.
Metaverse technologies are already supporting the manufacturing industry. American multinational conglomerate General Electric, are using Google’s augmented reality (AR) glasses, Glass Enterprise, to help mechanics assemble engines more accurately, and German logistics company DHL are using the same smart glasses to support the vision picking process in warehouses.
But where from here? In the not-to-distant future, every manufacturer will have its own Metaverse, providing managers and operatives with a fully-realized digital replica, or digital twin, of their site, indistinguishable from the real thing. This will provide manufacturing organizations with a platform to control machinery remotely - remember the all-white virtual control room in the Matrix Reloaded? Well, all manufacturing processes will be operated from a cloud-based Metaverse, operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by a global workforce. The Metaverse will create a global, virtual workforce where, security considerations accounted for, anyone, anywhere in the world, will have the ability to operative any piece of machinery, on any factory floor in the world. A perfect dynamic digital replica of manufacturing sites, will provide the perfect tool with which to collect and correlate real-time data, increasing production-line efficiencies while reducing cost and risk through predictive and prescriptive analytics.
American aircraft manufacturer Boeing in already planning on building its next airplane in the Metaverse, by creating digital replicas of its aircraft with which mechanics around the world can interact using Microsoft HoloLens headsets. The question is: “will manufacturing companies take an incremental approach, or will one or a number of more visionary organizations take the leap into the Metaverse?”
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