The Impact of Metaverse on the Manufacturing Industry in Focus
1 September 2022
At the moment, all eyes are focusing on how the Metaverse will impact our lives, especially in the real sectors such as the manufacturing industry or various factories in addition to the entertainment industry which is the most obvious and often cited as a sample of the possible used case.
Now, what is the Metaverse? It is a 3D virtual network that focuses on social connectivity. It is a merging of virtual reality and the physical world. Users can create their own identities and perform virtually every activity in this virtual space.
To help us grasp a better understanding of the word "Metaverse", try substituting this word in a sentence with the word “Cyberspace” and you will find that 90% of the meaning does not change. This is because this buzzword does not refer to any specific type of technology, but a broad shift in the way we interact with technology.
In general, the technologies that make up the Metaverse may include Virtual Reality (VR), which is characterized by a virtual world that continues to exist even when players have logged out. The same applies to augmented reality (AR) which merges the aspects of the digital and physical worlds together. However, access to these areas is not necessarily limited to VR or AR since popular Nintendo games like Fortnite can also be accessed via PCs, consoles, and even mobile phones.
Metaverse can also be regarded as a "digital economy" where users can create, buy and sell products. It allows us to move virtual objects such as clothes or cars between different platforms. At the moment, most platforms have already adopted virtual identities, avatars, and inventory linked to a single platform, but Metaverse may allow us to create identities that we can carry anywhere. It is as easy as copying a profile picture from one social media to another.
Regarding the role and importance of Metaverse in the industrial sector, Kasikorn Research Center indicates that Metaverse can be used in the manufacturing sector to improve the efficiency of supply chain management, especially for automotive and electronics. The application can begin with product design stage by creating a 3D prototype in a virtual world, test-run with real-time transformations of models or parts by experts in the company who may be stationed in different countries and have the authorization to be involved in the process. This workflow enables instant feedback and brainstorming to improve the prototype. Once the prototype is completed, it can be tested multiple times to eliminate any defects before undergoing mass production. All of these processes can benefit from the Metaverse.
Metaverse also plays a role in procurement by connecting parts manufacturers through virtual reality and sharing 3D prototypes to recruit suppliers who meet the prerequisites. At the same time, claiming parts can also rely on 3D models and cooperation with small parts manufacturers to identify the potentially problematic parts.
On the production side, Metaverse can help create virtual factories where engineers can experiment with factory layouts, test-run production processes, and optimize workflow for maximum efficiency. They can even use virtual production to train new employees to be proficient in the needed skills as well as how to remote-control the virtual machinery connected to the actual machinery. These will help mitigate losses, and prevent accidents and various other risks that could occur in the future. Performing remote maintenance through Metaverse will also greatly reduce travel costs, especially in the case that maintenance technicians need to be flown in from abroad.
Last but not least, the role and importance of the Metaverse in the manufacturing industry lie in warehouse management by creating a virtual warehouse to design and test product placement. This will help determine the suitability and efficiency of the logistics within the warehouse, save manpower, and save time from product re-arrangement. Also, it can rely on the data in the virtual warehouse to access the goods that are actually stored in the physical warehouse. Persons in charge will be able to find information about the products, storage location, inventory amount, as well as real-time orders with ease.
Today, some of the world's largest operators in the manufacturing industry have begun to experiment with Metaverse technology, especially those in the automotive industry and the electronics industry. However, the application of Metaverse in the manufacturing industry is still in its infancy albeit likely to increase in the future following the constant development of this trend.
In addition to the investments and cooperation between partner operators in the supply chain to make the adoption of Metaverse in the manufacturing industry successful, other necessary elements are also required. Manufacturers should perform careful research and be especially vigilant of the security of the confidential information that belong to their stakeholders.
Most importantly, investing in Metaverse technology should not be rushed. Manufacturers should consider gradually investing in the most cost-effective departments to reduce the risks that could potentially affect the overall supply chain, and limit the capital spent to be within a manageable level.
If you are interested in the news related to Metaverse as well as other interesting topics in the industrial sector, don't miss our future ME Blogs. And don’t forget to mark your calendar for NEPCON Thailand 2023- ASEAN’s #1 Exhibition on Assembly, Measurement and Testing Technologies for Electronics Manufacturing scheduled to take place during 21-24 June 2023 at BITEC, Bangkok.