Industrial Metaverse

Industrial Metaverse

The Industrial Metaverse holds great promise for significant improvements across all aspects of industry.

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Martin W. Hoffmann ABB Corporate Research Ladenburg, Germany, martin.w.hoffmann@de.abb.com; Yemao Man ABB Corporate Research Västerås, Sweden yemao.man@se.abb.com 

Although there is no generally accepted definition of the Industrial Metaverse, it can be pictured as an emerging user-centered space that connects and enhances the digital and physical worlds by integrating various recent technological trends such as digital twins, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), mixed reality and 5G →01. Different types of metaverses may emerge for different purposes.

01 Convergence of ­various technologies will enable the Industrial Metaverse.
01 Convergence of ­various technologies will enable the Industrial Metaverse.
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The constituents and potential of the industrial Metaverse
Adopting the Industrial Metaverse in particular brings opportunities to simulate, analyze and test industrial processes, products, data and equipment in a safe and controlled environment. For example, the Industrial Metaverse can help plant owners improve efficiency by using virtual engineering and co-simulation environments. It can also:
• Increase the agility and resilience of production facilities through continuous optimization.
• Shorten order delivery times through fully connected supply networks.
• Optimize energy consumption through integrated data analytics.
• Improve worker understanding of their role in the production process through visualizing work processes using extended reality (XR).

For example, nautical officers could immerse themselves in simulated real-world scenarios to practice remote supervision of an autonomous vessel [1,2] or check their own vessel’s surrounding environment with an augmented view [3]. These are essential stepping stones to safe and efficient autonomous shipping operations.

With the rise of the Industrial Metaverse, a holistic digital twin of a production facility, its processes, workers and supply network, across all stages of its design and development life cycle, is on the horizon. In addition to XR, further enablers include omnipresent communication capabilities (based on 5G, for example), standardized information exchange – eg, via the Industrie 4.0 Asset Administration Shell – and industrial cloud platforms, such as Manufacturing-X.

Imagine, for example, a service engineer at a customer’s plant who can use a lightweight XR headset to see the overlaid real-time, cloud-based simulations of the production process on the tangible assets, enabled by 5G and machine-learning technologies. Production experts and operators around the globe can join in this mixed-reality environment remotely using similar headsets. Such a scenario will provide the participants with a broader understanding of the production process, minimize health risks and enable faster commissioning or re-engineering of a production line.

An evolving Industrial Metaverse
Many technologies of the Industrial Metaverse are already in use: On-site assistance from remote experts via video links – including XR applications, such as ABB’s Collaborative Operations for Electrical Systems (CLOSER) or the ABB Ability™ AR Guided Support for measurement devices – are becoming industry standards. Furthermore, co-simulations with digital twins of plants and factories are nowadays feasible, by using, for example, ABB Ability System 800xA Simulator or virtual commissioning for drives.

The Industrial Metaverse will continuously benefit from advances in other metaverses, such as the Consumer Metaverse and Commercial Metaverse. One example of such a benefit is virtual collaboration. Further, AI delivers human-understandable insights that can help optimize industrial processes, leading to improved efficiency and productivity. Also foreseen is greater use of sensor technology and the IoT to gather data; more real-time analysis at the edge and in the cloud; and adoption of blockchain to secure and manage data and transactions. ABB looks forward to exploring these exciting opportunities with its partners and customers.

ABB Review will delve deeper into the Industrial Metaverse in a future edition. 

References
[1] K. Tervo, “Navigating the future – a better operational team with ABB Ability™ Marine Pilot product family,” ABB Review, 2/2022, pp. 10 – 17.
[2] ABB, “Autonomous Shipping.” Available: https://new.abb.com/news/detail/84822/autonomous-shipping. [Accessed January 13, 2023.]
[3] ABB, “ABB Ability™ Marine Pilot Vision.” https://new.abb.com/marine/systems-and-solutions/digital/­abb-ability-marine-pilot/abb-ability-marine-pilot-vision. [Accessed January 13, 2023.]

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