Think again if you believe that the metaverse will only impact social networking and gaming.
The metaverse will have as profound an impact on manufacturing as the Internet did in its day. Perhaps even greater. That said, the metaverse is a topic as fascinating as it is extensive. That’s why this article will address a specific aspect of it, the metaverse for factory planning, collaboration and presentation.
for virtual factory planning
A quick look at the factory planning process today, how far is it from the metaverse?
Starting with the basics, what is the metaverse from a factory planning perspective? A virtual reality environment where you can immerse yourself and inspect the factory design at a real scale? A digital 3D representation of industrial machinery or equipment? If so, isn't that what we know today as digital twins and real-time factory planning software?
Actually, yes and no.
Today's top-notch solutions such as our iVP Platform allow you to create high-end 2D/3D visualizations of your factory or production plant while it is still in the layouting phase using Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) that can also be viewed in virtual reality environments. In that sense, yes, the technology available today for factory planning is several steps ahead of retail eCommerce solutions. However, that does not mean that real-time planning software or digital twins are “the metaverse” that everyone talks about.
The metaverse concept uses a digital-first world approach where users join an immersive online 3D virtual environment that directly impacts the physical world
You plan the factory from the metaverse with the stakeholders, who can interact in real-time and provide ideas and solutions. In contrast, the technology we are using today is geared towards digitally enhancing all operations from the physical world using tools such as VR, AR, AI, cloud solutions, and more as support.
The best way to understand the industrial metaverse’s enormous impact is to explore its benefits, which brings us to the next section.
Leveraging the metaverse for factory planning
Using a digital-first approach will change the supply chain as radically as the internet did years ago. This, in turn, will change the way factories are planned. Below we list the main benefits that the metaverse will bring to factory planning.
Better communication between the parties. Factory planning is highly complex, so maintaining smooth communication has always been challenging. The metaverse will allow a transparent process, where both multidisciplinary teams and clients will see progress in real-time and on a real scale. In the virtual world of the metaverse, everyone can clarify doubts, correct misunderstandings, and solve problems more quickly and conveniently.
Supercharged collaboration. Despite the sophistication of 2D and 3D CAD models, it is almost impossible to avoid errors and omissions during factory planning. Although today VR representations of the factory layout can be made, in the metaverse, it will be the norm that all team members work from the virtual world, which will allow problems to be detected more easily. Moreover, the interaction between specialists from different disciplines will be easier, which will result in a better design.
Agile design. The metaverse will bring powerful tools that will integrate digital twins of equipment together with virtual spaces that can simulate real physics. This will allow designing more efficient and safe factories. Think of it in the following way, the technologies that are part of the metaverse will offer the possibility of simulating different factory layouts to check how their performance would be in the real world.
This article has explored both the current state of the metaverse and its future for factory planning. The road to the future has already begun, proof of which is the strategic partnership of BMW Group and NVIDIA to take virtual factory planning to the next level through the use of a digital twin of a factory or Unity Forma platform used by iXtenda to create virtual showrooms for HOMAG Group (Part of the DÜRR AG) one of the world's top manufacturers for woodworking machinery. So the question is not whether you should join the metaverse, but when you will, as companies that adopt these new technologies first will undoubtedly have a unique competitive advantage.