Linking Digital Twins to Make an Industrial Metaverse

In this second article in the PYMNTS industry metaverse series on the emerging use of virtual realities by private companies, we will examine how companies are building “digital twins” into their supply chains to create a complete, real-time picture of what is happening. in their business and how they can improve it.

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See also: The commercial future of the virtual reality of the industrial metaverse?

First, it’s worth pointing out that digital twins long predate the Metaverse, with an August article in MIT Sloan Management Review saying that “the technology has been adopted across many industries and has become more accessible and affordable” since the early 2000s, but “remains underutilized”. in supply chain management.

This is partly because the technology is complex, especially when it needs to be adopted across multiple facility types and locations. Digital twins can use a wide variety of technologies, ranging from the Internet of Things (IoT) and other sensors to augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and technology. machine learning.

Digital twins are “the foundation of the enterprise metaverse,” consulting giant McKinsey said this month, envisioning a “digital version of your end-to-end supply chain, from raw materials to delivery.” . [that] replicates continuously in real time.

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But a real industrial metaverse is more than a fanciful picture of what’s going on.

“Digital twins observe their physical surroundings through a network of sensors that dynamically collect data in real time,” the MIT Sloan paper said. “They evolve by learning from this information and its contexts and by interacting with humans, devices and other networked digital twins…enabling supply chain practitioners to spot highly complex behavior patterns and dynamic.”

In real time

Anheuser-Busch InBev is working with Microsoft to create digital twins of its breweries. It starts with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors allowing the brewmaster to monitor chemical and fermentation processes in brewing vessels in real time, Microsoft said in a video release.

The system will also monitor energy consumption and management systems, use AI and machine learning to monitor bottlenecks in canning and bottling operations, schedule maintenance for a downtime and let a frontline worker with an AR headset work with a technician to fix issues with the physical plant faster.

It can be as simple as “adding more hops to mixer #3” or as complex as automatically adjusting production for bottlenecks such as full vats, McKinsey said.

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Another example is SpaceX, which has digital twins monitoring the trajectories, loads and propulsion system of its Dragon capsules, allowing controllers to make adjustments on the fly.

Digital twins also have a place in entertainment and commerce-focused metaverses like blockchain-based Decentraland and The Sandbox, Meta’s Horizon Worlds, and older releases like Second Life and Roblox. Auction House Sotheby’s has built a digital twin of its New Bond Street, London headquarters in Decentraland, planning to use the five-storey structure to showcase and sell digital art NFTs, as well as works auctioned in the actual building.

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But it’s really a different meaning of “digital twin” because this facility can mimic the structure of the physical auction house, but not the operations or content.

Up and down the line

The process McKinsey devised sees an item with a disrupted supply chain go out of stock for days rather than months.

Companies are embedding vendor information into their metaverses that can “provide early warning of a disruption” when a vendor can’t deliver a product, McKinsey said. The impact of this disruption up and down the supply chain can be simulated and prepared for. New parts suppliers provide 3D models of their products, which can be inserted and tested virtually to determine their impact on manufacturing processes. Virtual stores can view and update layouts, product mixes and required training.

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“Financial costs are close to zero, employees experience minimal disruption, and customer satisfaction increases,” he said.

Predicting that digital twins will be a $48 billion business by 2026, McKinsey added that the impact of industrial metaverses built from digital twin networks “could be as high in the enterprise as it is in space. general public – if not more”.

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