One of the buzzwords of 2022 was the Metaverse, mainly driven by the change of Facebook into Meta. This virtual realm is seen as a potential future for many industries, including manufacturing. After the interesting discussions and conversations with people on my previous blog on that topic, some asked me how we see it 1 year later, and mainly how we see this develop in the context of the manufacturing industry. In this blog we describe our take on the development and future of Digital Twins in the Industrial Metaverse.
Digital Twins help in optimizing workflows in the development, deployment and life cycles of systems. Although the value of Digital Twins has become more obvious, we still see a lot of manufacturing companies struggling to get started.
That’s why we want to discuss the 7 biggest mistakes and challenges we see companies struggling with.
How to get started with Virtual Commissioning
In the development of mechatronics systems in industry, software and controls teams normally are the last step in the development cycle. The hardware is ready and shipped to location and then the software is connected and often last-minute changed to ‘get the motor running’. However connecting the software untested and late in the development cycle is time consuming, stressfull (the factory is waiting), and expensive. Virtual Commissioning gives you the opportunity to develop and virtually test your (PLC-) software in an early stage. A Digital Twin is the ideal tool for simulation and communication. It helps to divide the software development work easier, and do more parallel testing over multiple teams. This enables you to get earlier insights and detects issues and errors before they appear in the field. This results in doing virtual FAT and SAT tests. Saving on travel expenses, people, and getting systems more quickly up and running.
Many large industrial OEM’s and ODM’s are moving from an engineering-to-order approach to a configure-to-order model. Instead of designing and creating all machines from scratch with every incoming order, these companies are assembling a catalogue full of standardized and extensively tested modules and building blocks. That way, they can pick and choose from their own library of readily available options, and deliver their solutions much faster to their customers. Moreover, they can reuse much of their design and engineering efforts, making their whole business process run smoother, safer and more efficient.
Stating that the Covid pandemic has had a gigantic impact on the world, is still an understatement. The crisis has affected many aspects of our lives. On a professional level, working from home became standard, supply chains got seriously disrupted, resulting in material shortages and production stops, virtually all exhibitions and conferences were canceled, and many companies reevaluated their business strategies.
When Mark Zuckerberg changed his company name from Facebook to Meta, and talked at length about his vision of the Metaverse, some of you may have been new to the concept. But actually, the term (a portmanteau of ‘meta’ and ‘universe’) has been around for thirty-odd years. It was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel ‘Snow crash’, in which humans interact with each other as avatars in a 3D virtual space.