WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
More organisations are creating digital twins of their manufacturing facilities and the link with the Metaverse is interesting.
By now most people likely know about the trend Industry 4.0, smart factories, and digital twins that the likes of BMW are already combining together to let them test out new manufacturing processes in simulation, optimise them, and then “push” those settings to the real factory floor when production needs to begin.
Now, in the latest twist and following on from South Korea’s desire to turn Seoul into the world’s first metaverse smart city, South Korean motor company Hyundai is aiming to become the first mobility company to build what they’re calling a Meta-factory, which is like a digital twin of a physical plant but in the Metaverse, and they’re partnering with Unity to build it. And, admittedly, while it opens up an interesting avenue of experimentation I for one am wondering if the final Meta-factory will have some actual substance with cutting edge innovations or be nothing more than today’s Industry 4.0 digital twin experiments with a fancy marketing spin …
The purpose of the Meta-factory the company says is to provide a space for the firm to test numerous scenarios virtually, in order to assess, calculate and create optimal operation conditions, without employees needing to be onsite.
The collaboration should result in a real-time 3D virtual platform, which Hyundai says will be available to a broad group of its customers, offering them a more comprehensive range of services. Consumers will be able to trial, test and engage various automotive options digitally, before choosing which to transfer to physical vehicles.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the companies also covers smart manufacturing, AI training, and study as well as simulations for autonomous driving.
“Real-time digital twins will permanently change how we live, work, shop and make a positive impact on our planet, representing a significant component of what is often referred to as the ‘metaverse’,” said John Riccitiello, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Unity.
“Hyundai’s vision for the future including the digital twin of factory operations represents a significant technological step forward in manufacturing, with unlimited potential in its efficiency.”
Hyundai plans to first apply the Meta-Factory concept to the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center facility in Singapore (HMGICS), as part of the automaker’s initiative to create an open innovation hub for research and development.
Hyundai Motor Group President Youngcho Chi said that the Innovation Center, which is still under construction and set for completion by the end of the year, was set to become “a manufacturing innovation ‘game-changer’ through this world-class Meta-Factory collaboration”.
“And HMGICS will lead the future innovation by introducing various technologies that will transform mobility paradigm through human-centred value chain innovation,” Chi added.
Due to be completed at the end of 2022, HMGICS will study a number of advanced technologies and mobility services and aims to further accelerate innovation in intelligent manufacturing, AI, 5G and other advanced technologies.
Country Manager Kim Insuk of Unity Korea said: “This MOU with Hyundai Motor Company represents Unity Korea’s first example of collaborating on future industries such as smart factories, robot simulation, and computer vision within a metaverse setting. We’re thrilled to ally with Hyundai Motor Company, as it unfolds the future mobility business it envisions.”
So far so much hype, but we’ll see so watch this space as we explore what happens when manufacturing meets the metaverse …