Advancements in the industry of the metaverse, an increasing number of companies opening factories in the metaverse, and improvements in supply chain transparency are key factors expected to drive market growth through 2028, according to the Metaverse in Manufacturing Market study by Emergen Research.

What is the Metaverse?

The metaverse, a blend of AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), with a mix of physical and digital stimuli, is known to consumers as a new source of entertainment, social networking and marketing. To join in, all you need is a VR or AR headset for the ultimate 360-degree immersive experience. 

But the real hype of the metaverse lies in its futuristic real-world applications for anything from Walmart’s shopping demo of the future to booking hotel rooms with 3D digital avatars. Indeed, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg calls the metaverse our domicile of the future, while Bill Gates predicts most of us will work there three years from now. Top tech corporations hype the metaverse as the Next Big Thing.

The Industrial Metaverse

But what does the metaverse mean for manufacturing? 

For hedge fund manager Jim Cramer, the industrial metaverse is more promising than the “metaverse of fun.” In this metaverse of industry, manufacturers design digital representations of physical objects, processes or services called “digital twins.” These replicas test the operations and workflows of physical assets, such as buildings, planes, robots or cars, and assess how to support or maintain these assets long after creation. By using the metaverse in this manner, there will be no need to waste money or time building infrastructures, only to reassemble or to destroy them. Manufacturers are able to use computer-aided design (CAD) programs to test for items like safety, labor costs, inventory control, overhead customization, and speed of production, before committing to physical representation.

Stephen Prideaux-Ghee, CTO of AR and VR at PTC, explains the benefits the metaverse can provide to business leaders.

“In the metaverse of industry, I can walk up to that product and I can understand it. I can interrogate it from where I'm standing,” Prideaux-Ghee says. “That's where I see great opportunity to give people the ability to rewire the world and make it useful.”

Cloud-native computer-aided design software, like Onshape, can help industries that want to implement NextGen metaverse innovation. With the technology, models can be digitally constructed through shared 3D-rendered workspaces, where team members collaborate on testing and interacting with these replications, before moving them into the physical world. 

Onshape co-founder Jon Hirschtick, in an interview with Design News, said, “For manufacturing, it's not just about the metaverse, it's about augmented reality. Digital info can be objects such as sensors in fixed locations with data about a physical machine. Augmented reality is where you’re after digital information over the real world.”

How Companies Can Leverage the Industrial Metaverse

In the near future, companies in markets ranging from technology to manufacturing can use tools, like cloud-native CAD software, in ways and for purposes that include the following:

1. Rapid production process design: Manufacturers can drag and drop assets into their metaverse simulations to identify how to become more efficient, productive or cost-effective in real life.

2. More collaborative product development: Team members can easily collaborate by discussing, testing and analyzing 3D models before implementing results in the physical world. The process not only cuts down on disagreements but also expedites the product life-cycle. 

3. Reduced risk to quality control: The more detailed your simulations, the more you reduce the margin of errors when these blueprints are translated into the physical world. Fewer errors mean lower churn rates for customers as well as lower return rates for defective products. 

4. Increased transparency for customers: Customers who access the company’s 3D-rendered supply chain are able to see how their products are built, distributed and sold. This is a boon for all, since business transparency boosts employee morale while enhancing the company’s reputation among stakeholders.

5. Agile product development: With the ability to become more efficient, collaborative, innovative and transparent, product development teams can be more agile when faced with an ever-changing market, build resilience and stay ahead of the competition.  

The Opportunity of the Metaverse

The advent of the industrial metaverse is forecast to transform the manufacturing market in a big way, making it more agile, where manufacturers can build simultaneously rather than in a sequential way. Among other benefits, this gives them certain agility and insights. 

Put another way, the metaverse can help organizations answer the “what ifs” and “how tos” to improve the physical world in a more scalable, sustainable and safer way. It’s the industry of the gaming metaverse translated into creating businesses devoid of error, before committing to the costs of testing them in the real world.

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