Industry 4.0 has driven significant change across the manufacturing industry in recent years. The focus on digital transformation and introducing new and modern digital capabilities have allowed manufacturers to achieve greater productivity, efficiency, and sustainability, with smart technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and big data powering these new tools.
One critical tool that has emerged is digital twins. Thanks to this virtual simulation solution, manufacturers can create virtual replicas of their factories and systems in a “metaverse” and use the data in these virtual worlds to streamline operations, conduct effective research, and improve processes.
But what are digital twins, and can they be considered the building blocks of the manufacturing metaverse?
What are digital twins?
Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical systems, factories, and setups. They are created using data from sensors and cameras to create a digital representation of physical objects which can be used to monitor, analyse, and optimise the performance of the physical object in real-time. While the use of digital twins is not new – early digital twin concepts can be traced back to NASA in the 1960s – recent smart manufacturing advancements have made them more accessible and useful, leading to improved efficiency and increased productivity, and reduced costs.
Role of digital twins in the manufacturing metaverse
The manufacturing metaverse is a virtual world that mirrors the physical manufacturing environment and is created using digital twins and other technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and AI.
Digital twins are a key component of the manufacturing metaverse as they provide the data and insights needed to create an accurate virtual copy of the real-world manufacturing environment. This virtual environment tests and optimises processes, equipment, and layouts before making changes in the physical world.
Through this metaverse, manufacturers can accelerate digital transformation, reduce costs, and improve efficiency as machine and operational changes are tried and tested virtually to ensure no issues are encountered before real-world implementation. It also provides a platform for collaboration and innovation, allowing manufacturers to work together digitally to solve common challenges in a virtual space.
Future of digital twins in manufacturing
Digital twins will only grow in importance as more manufacturers progress in their digital transformation. Advancements in AI and machine learning will make it easier to use the data from digital twins, while increased adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies will also lead to increased digital twins use which can drive its evolution into virtual twins.
With its potential to revolutionise the manufacturing industry even further, it is evident that digital twins are fundamental building blocks of the manufacturing metaverse. Manufacturers should continue to explore the potential of these technologies so that the industry can experience even greater growth and optimisation in the years to come.
Driving manufacturing digital transformation further
Digital twins are a powerful tool for manufacturers to gain step-change improvements in manufacturing operational processes. When combined with other technologies such as VR, AR, and AI, new potential can be unlocked while reducing waste and cost. As technology progresses over time, manufacturers can also look forward to more advanced virtual twins in the manufacturing metaverse of the future which can contribute to a highly interconnected ecosystem of smart manufacturing solutions.
To attain this level of digital transformation, manufacturing leaders must know where their processes are lacking and how they can improve them. With the help of neutral benchmarking tools and maturity assessment frameworks like the Smart Industry Readiness Index (SIRI), they can look forward to vast organisational improvements to take their operations to the next level. Learn more about SIRI or contact us at here to start a conversation.