Technology Record - Issue 32: Spring 2024

114 VIEWPOINT Manufacturers that leverage the industrial metaverse to transform their processes will be more efficient, satisfy their customers better and achieve their sustainability goals ROHIT VERMA: INFOSYS How can manufacturing be more sustainable? Manufacturing is one of the most important and impactful sectors of the global economy, contributing to nearly 16 per cent of the world’s GDP and employing over 450 million people. However, manufacturing is also one of the most resource-intensive and polluting sectors, accounting for 35 per cent of the world’s energy consumption and 20 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Therefore, a shift towards adopting sustainable practices is becoming increasingly necessary. Enter the industrial metaverse, a digital twin of the physical world, which integrates technologies like digital twins, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence and augmented reality (AR). This virtual environment offers opportunities for optimisation, monitoring and collaboration, aiding in waste reduction, efficiency enhancement and improved collaboration among manufacturers. Despite its potential, challenges persist, such as upfront investments and technology integration complexities. Nonetheless, the benefits of sustainable processes far outweigh any risks and problems. Siemens, a global leader in industrial automation and digitalisation, exemplifies the power of leveraging new technologies to aid in sustainability efforts. Its industrial metaverse platform, Xcelerator, optimises Siemens’ own manufacturing processes to develop solutions and services for its customers, thereby reducing product development time by 50 per cent, increasing productivity by 30 per cent and, crucially, lowering energy consumption by 40 per cent. Adopting sustainable processes helps to improve operational efficiency and productivity, which can lead to lower costs, higher quality and faster delivery. It can also enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, resulting in increased market share, revenue and profitability. Furthermore, these processes open up avenues to innovative new products and services, which can create new value propositions and competitive differentiation. The industrial metaverse facilitates real-time data utilisation and scenario simulation, as seen in Hitachi’s data analytics system. This system uses AI to collect and process data from various sources to improve productivity and output, therefore showing how the industrial metaverse can enable manufacturers to identify optimal solutions for energy, materials and logistics. It has the added benefit of aiding collaboration and sustainable solution co-creation. Dashboards and benchmarking can also help to monitor performance. The use of digital twins can simulate future situations, allowing manufacturers “Sustainable processes in manufacturing align environmental and social impacts with operational excellence”