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BOULOGNE-BILLANCOURT, France: Last year Deloitte and the Manufacturing Leadership Council (MLC), an independent research company, surveyed over 350 U.S. manufacturing industry executives to better understand the industrial metaverse and its applications in manufacturing.

According to Deloitte the industrial metaverse “is the convergence of individual technologies that, when used in combination, can create an immersive three-dimensional virtual or virtual/physical industrial environment”.

The Renault Group says it was the first [car] manufacturer to set up an industrial metaverse and in December 2023 announced plans to reduce production costs of fossil fuel-based vehicles 30 percent by 2027 and 50 percent for electric vehicles.

With 12,000 systems connected worldwide and three billion data items uploaded every day, in 2023 Renault’s metaverse has generated savings of €270 million, primarily through the deployment of predictive maintenance on installations. Now, by connecting not only the workstations but also its entire ecosystem including transport and suppliers, the manufacturer aims to cut vehicle development from three to two years, its production carbon footprint 50 percent and delivery times 60 percent.

AI also enables the company to implement a predictive approach to energy consumption that has already reduced industrial site energy use by 20 percent with a goal of 40 percent by 2025.

Deloitte explains that as technology evolves, the industrial metaverse will likely allow access to immersive 3D environments from any internet-connected device, including virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices, as well as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and equipment, from anywhere in the world.

The MLC study revealed five major findings:

• Most manufacturers are optimistic about the potential of the industrial metaverse and are confident about its adoption in the manufacturing industry over the next five years.
• Manufacturers are currently piloting or using more than six industrial metaverse use cases throughout their production, supply chain, talent, and customer ecosystems, and are realising benefits in their costs, revenue, operational efficiencies and talent.
• Executives expect an average of 12-14 percent improvement in sales, throughput, productivity and quality by implementing industrial metaverse initiatives, and are planning significant investment and expansion over the next one to three years.
• Cybersecurity and data protection are key concerns and strategies to mitigate these risks should be in place as industrial metaverse initiatives are implemented.
• Analysis of the survey data reveals 30 percent of survey companies - called ‘pacesetters’ - show their level of adoption of metaverse-enabling technologies to be above average, or well above average in relation to their competitors.

David R. Brousell, founder, vice president and executive director of the MLC, thinks the [U.S.] manufacturing industry is well-positioned for the adoption of the industrial metaverse.

“Given their continued focus on digital transformation and their journey toward the smart factory, the majority of companies surveyed have made significant investments and are already using the foundational technologies that power the industrial metaverse."

He notes companies are either implementing data analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, and the Internet of Things technologies across multiple projects and processes, or they are currently experimenting with one-off projects.

“The same is true for digital twins, 3D modeling, and 3D scanning, which can all serve as building blocks for the immersive 3D environments of the industrial metaverse,” he adds.
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