Can the Industrial Metaverse boost the sustainability journeys of enterprises?
Walid Gomaa, CEO Omnix International

Can the Industrial Metaverse boost the sustainability journeys of enterprises?

The Industrial Metaverse attempts to convert the industrial enterprise into a living enterprise with strong visualisation capability to prove to decision makers what it will look like in the future, explains Walid Gomaa at Omnix International.

Industrial organisations face two significant challenges. The first is to meet sustainability targets while achieving growth targets. And most developed countries have set goals to become net zero between 2040–2060, including the UAE. The other challenge is how to manage the growing complexity of end-to-end industrial systems while managing Scope 1,2,3 emissions levels.

To move forward, industrial enterprises must be able to share data across the entire enterprise, supply chain and third parties. They must also be able to predict the impact of any changes made to any part of the enterprise including manufacturing, distribution, sales, recycling on its sustainability profile.

Technology platforms that can integrate large amounts of end-to-end data, monitor, analyse, and simulate the impact of changes on the sustainability profile of an industrial enterprise do not exist today and are still under development. There are also institutional, organisational, and cultural barriers to achieving the necessary levels of data sharing and collaboration.

While the latest tools and platforms of Industry 4.0 technologies, including digital twins are providing benefits, without further evolution they cannot meet tomorrow’s needs. Fundamentally Industry 4.0 and digital twin solutions help to describe physical systems and not the whole system. Any C-level decision making using these tools is static and siloed.

Arrival

The Industrial Metaverse is an evolution of the discrete digital twin technologies that are the foundation of Industry 4.0. Industrial Metaverse stands for an end-to-end, real-world industrial system, including external elements outside the company and the environment within which it works.

It is a connected whole-system digital twin with functionalities to interact with the industrial enterprise, in the environment in which it exists, allowing decision makers to understand the past and forecast the future.

The Industrial Metaverse moves beyond digital simulation of physical assets, typically captured by Industry 4.0, into groups of connected assets, processes and functions, upstream and downstream activities, and involves the entire industrial enterprise.

The Industrial Metaverse thus provides a transformative tool to elevate the use of digital simulation technology to the level of strategic decision-making. This is especially valuable for developing effective sustainable growth strategies.

The adoption curve of the Industrial Metaverse is delinked from the adoption curve of the consumer Metaverse. The reason for this is its ability to simulate complex industrial enterprises has a higher value for decision makers than the quality of immersivity and human-machine interface platforms.

Implementation and benefits

While implementing the Industrial Metaverse, enterprises should make the most of these steps, namely:

  • Develop a clear digitalisation strategy, with a definite current and final position.
  • Find the opportunities offered after implementation and use a road map to generate returns and cost savings.
  • Plan to implement pilot projects thereby building up the learning and change management process.
  • Build and align the external ecosystem of suppliers and partners.

Industrial metaverse offers multiple advantages over Industry 4.0 solutions. These are:

  • Simulation of industrial complex systems is possible and various what-if virtual scenarios can be presented. This is especially useful for sustainability targets.
  • The data inside the Industrial Metaverse is longer from the past or present but can also generate the future. This can stand for how sustainable the industrial enterprise will be in the future.
  • Visualisation of industrial complex systems is possible using AI and virtual reality and limitation of the human mind can be overcome.
  • Using visualisation and what-if scenarios, interconnection between various stakeholders of the industrial enterprise becomes more visible and can be managed optimally. This interdependence can help assess how sustainability targets can be met.

Challenges

If Industry 4.0 transitions to become Industrial Metaverse, then the on-going challenges around implementation of Industry 4.0 will also need to be overcome before Industrial Metaverse become mainstream.

According to Arther D Little’s recent research report, titled The Industrial Metaverse, the following challenges are being experienced in implementation of Industry 4.0 solutions:

  • High investments needed for data integration and management.
  • Limitations from existing legacy IT systems.
  • Reluctance to embrace business transformation.
  • Difficulties in generating returns in short timescales.
  • Lack of common standards.
  • Weak systems integration.
  • Lack of interdepartmental cooperation.
  • Weak change management and employee involvement.

While achieving a large scale, end-to-end, industrial digital twin may be a few years away, due to development gaps in computing and scale-up AI, early steps are possible in the short term and Industrial Metaverse use cases have already been developed. Notwithstanding these innovations needed, the Industrial Metaverse offers enterprises a medium-term solution on how to meet sustainable targets.

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