Lean Digital Thread: The Manufacturing Metaverse Revisited

In my May column, I talked about the hype around the metaverse and looked at how the technology may be leveraged by manufacturers in the future. Because the metaverse is only starting to be built, the topic was a bit abstract, but the recent announcement of a partnership between Siemens and NVIDIA brings the industrial metaverse one big step closer to (virtual) reality. In this column, I will discuss the new partnership, the technology each party brings to the table, and how manufacturers can benefit from the collaboration.

The Partnership
The collaboration between Siemens and NVIDIA brings together two technology platforms to support an industrial metaverse: the digital business platform, Siemens Xcelerator, and the NVIDIA open world platform, NVIDIA Omniverse. The goal is to reach the next level of industrial automation by leveraging AI-driven digital twin technology. This will provide companies of any size with new ways to collaborate, innovate, and improve their performance.

“Photorealistic, physics-based digital twins embedded in the industrial metaverse offer enormous potential to transform our economies and industries by providing a virtual world where people can interact and collaborate to solve real-world problems. Through this partnership, we will make the industrial metaverse a reality for companies of all sizes,” says Roland Busch, president and CEO, Siemens AG. “For over a decade, our digital twin technology has been helping customers across all industries to boost their productivity and today offer the industry’s most comprehensive digital twin. When Siemens Xcelerator is connected to Omniverse, we will enable a real-time, immersive metaverse that connects hardware and software, from the edge to the cloud with rich data from Siemens’ software and solutions.”

Jensen Huang, founder, and CEO of NVIDIA agrees. “Siemens and NVIDIA share a common vision that the industrial metaverse will drive digital transformation. This is just the first step in our joint effort to make this vision real for our customers and all parts of the global manufacturing industry,” he says. “The connection to Siemens Xcelerator will open NVIDIA’s Omniverse and AI ecosystem to a whole new world of industrial automation that is built using Siemens’ mechanical, electrical, software, IoT, and edge solutions.”

Siemens Xcelerator Platform
Siemens is known as a leader in industrial automation and software. The company has been pioneering the digital twin for more than a decade and recently launched the Xcelerator digital business platform to accelerate the digital transformation process and provide a digital ecosystem and collaboration platform for customers, partners, and developers.

The Xcelerator platform consists of three main elements:

  1. The Portfolio: Xcelerator provides a curated portfolio of technology built on standard APIs. Software, services, and IoT-enabled hardware can be used modularly to create flexible and interoperable digital business solutions.

  2. The Ecosystem: The platform is open to certified partners to share their own digital solutions and expertise. Partners of any size can collaborate with customers and developers to co-create solutions and services that would not be possible for any one company to create alone. NVIDIA is the first major partner in the Xcelerator ecosystem.

  3. The Marketplace: Underlying the platform is a marketplace that will evolve over time to facilitate the interactions needed to increase the speed of value creation for platform users.

Several technical design principles employed on the platform are key to accelerating the digital transformation:

  • Interoperable: The Xcelerator platform will integrate technology seamlessly along domain-specific digital threads, decreasing the time typically needed to implement digital solutions.
  • Flexible: The offerings on the platform are modular, so users can pick what they need and scale as they grow. Solutions can also be personalized through low code development to suit the particular user's needs.
  • Open: Standard APIs ensure that partners are speaking the same language. Data can also be contextualized to enable analytics built on top of the solutions.
  • As-a-service: Most solutions on the platform will be service-based technologies, allowing users to access the latest and greatest technology without complexity and investment hurdles.
  • Cybersecure: All solutions on the platform apply the same high-quality security standards. This ensures that platform users can enjoy the benefits of digitalization while being protected from data theft and attacks.

NVIDIA Omniverse
NVIDIA is a multiverse technology pioneer, leading with strong capabilities in computing and long-term investment in AI technology. The NVIDIA Omniverse is a cloud-enabled platform that lets users create scalable, real-time, photo-realistic simulations. The platform leverages several cutting-edge technologies such as ray-traced and path-traced rendering to enable 3D design collaboration, physics-based digital twins, and world simulation.

Connecting Siemens Xcelerator to NVIDIA Omniverse means that the digital twin solutions offered on the Xcelerator platform can use the Omniverse technology for full-fidelity, real-time visualization and simulation. Omniverse supports physics-based product digital twins, meaning the objects in the platform perform and operate just like they would in the real world. The digital twin of production is also transferred to the Omniverse platform and continuously enriched with actual production data collected on Siemens IoT and edge devices, meaning that fidelity between the virtual and physical world is constantly increasing.

The Killer App: Continuous, AI-driven Optimization
With the ability to perfectly simulate the physical world in the virtual space, several interesting capabilities come to mind. Of course, collaboration will be greatly enhanced, with the ability for multi-functional teams from around the world to collaborate in co-designing and problem-solving. The next-generation platform also offers the ability to leverage artificial intelligence for continuous optimization and improvement.

NVIDIA Omniverse is natively AI-enabled which will allow for autonomous AI bots to constantly monitor the digital twins being simulated in the platform. As more fidelity flows into the simulation from real-time production data, the AI bots will be able to identify trends and bottlenecks, simulate many different possible improvements in the virtual world, and then work independently with the real factory automation to implement the changes that were most successful in the virtual world. This capability takes us one big step closer to the vision of a fully autonomous factory.

For more information about the Siemens and NVIDIA metaverse partnership, please check out this press release from Siemens.

Zac Elliott is technical marketing engineer for Siemens Digital Industries Software.

Additional content from Siemens Digital Industries Software: 

 

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2022

Lean Digital Thread: The Manufacturing Metaverse Revisited

08-17-2022

In my May column, I talked about the hype around the metaverse and looked at how the technology may be leveraged by manufacturers in the future. Because the metaverse is only starting to be built, the topic was a bit abstract, but the recent announcement of a partnership between Siemens and NVIDIA brings the industrial metaverse one big step closer to (virtual) reality. In this column, I will discuss the new partnership, the technology each party brings to the table, and how manufacturers can benefit from the collaboration.

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Lean Digital Thread: The Secure Digital Thread

06-29-2022

Securing intellectual property has become a priority for manufacturers, and recent reports from the U.S. and EU governments highlight the risks and direction for securing the supply chain. For example, in February, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published an assessment of supply chains supporting electronics manufacturing. Following closely in March, Europol released the 2022 Intellectual Property Crime Threat Assessment report, bringing attention to the risks counterfeit electronic components pose to supply chains. Let’s look at some of these recent publications and how they affect manufacturers.

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Lean Digital Thread: The Manufacturing Metaverse

05-11-2022

If you follow technology news, you’re aware of the buzz about the metaverse. Even if you do not follow technology news, you have likely heard that Facebook has rebranded itself as “Meta” to align with its focus on the metaverse. You may be wondering what the metaverse is all about and how it applies to manufacturing. Zac Elliott of Siemens shares his perspective.

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Lean Digital Thread: Closing the Loop on Manufacturing

04-12-2022

Throughout this series of articles, we have looked at the benefits of implementing a digital thread for electronics manufacturing. In this edition, I would like to close the loop (pun very much intended) on the lean digital thread and discuss closed-loop manufacturing. In closed-loop manufacturing (CLM) the systems and business processes used to design, plan, manufacture, and use a product are connected, thus enabling continuous improvement and self-organization of production processes.

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Lean Digital Thread: Keeping an Eye on Quality

03-08-2022

So far in this series of articles, we have looked at current trends in the supply chain and the challenges facing manufacturers. In general, the takeaway has been that we must do more with less: We need to be more flexible while simultaneously decreasing labor input, and we need to be more efficient while also managing component shortages.

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Lean Digital Thread: Streamlining the Internal Supply Chain

02-16-2022

In response to labor shortages exacerbated by the global pandemic, many manufacturers are leveraging digitalization and automation to reduce labor needs and improve productivity in the factory. This is not exactly a new trend, as many manufacturers have used Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and automated production lines to drive their manufacturing operations for many years. However, as new processes are automated and existing automated lines are connected to the full factory, there are many pitfalls to avoid and challenges to overcome.

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Lean Digital Thread: Achieving Supply Chain Resilience

01-19-2022

The shortage of semiconductor components emerged during a hypergrowth of demand for semiconductor chips. To emphasize the magnitude of the hypergrowth, the global semiconductor market is projected to grow from $452.2 billion in 2021 to $803.1 billion in 2028—almost 78% in just seven years, or an average of 8.5% annually. The combination of this growth in demand and the shortage of semiconductor chips poses a great challenge for the entire electronics industry and for manufacturers, particularly.

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2021

Lean Digital Thread: (Pro)curing the Supply Chain Virus

12-15-2021

Turn on the news and you’re likely to see images of something that was never considered newsworthy in the past—shipping containers. In fact, the entire supply chain has suddenly become big news due to the ongoing, severe global backlog that is preventing consumers from getting the goods they need on a timely basis. It’s a true global crisis. Since the supply chain crisis coincided with, and was hugely exacerbated by, the COVID-19 pandemic, many expect that it will be resolved when the pandemic recedes. However, that is not necessarily the case. Some major changes, such as increased demand (especially for electronics) and labor shortages, are likely to continue for many years into the future, becoming the new post-pandemic normal.

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Lean Digital Thread: Why is Everyone Suddenly Interested in Supply Chain?

11-11-2021

Prior to the global pandemic, most people didn’t give the supply chain much thought. There was no reason to—consumers had become accustomed to simply clicking on an item on a website, and it would magically arrive on their doorstep the next day. What difference did it make how it got there and where its components were produced as long as everything was running smoothly? That reality has changed drastically in the past year and a half since the onset of the pandemic. Suddenly, it seems like there is a backlog of several months on every item, from cars to washing machines to books; the supply chain has become the headline news in leading publications.

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Lean Digital Thread: AI Wields Powerful Weapon in Counterfeit Components

04-13-2021

The world is still very much in the middle of a pandemic that has been altering the global economy in multiple ways. For starters, millions of employees suddenly found themselves needing to have the technical resources to work from home, their children had to start attending elementary school via Zoom, and, as a result, the demand for technology has seen a recent spike to unprecedented levels.

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Lean Digital Thread: Achieving Operational Excellence Is a ‘Must Have’

01-25-2021

Are current manufacturing processes no longer suitable for electronics? Newer consumer-buying patterns are pressuring factories to rely on technology to become more dynamic and agile. The latest technologies can be successful in streamlining certain processes, but the whole business process, entrenched in bad habits, merits real change. Here are five of the best positions for change.

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2020

Lean Digital Thread: Micro-Solutions—Solving One Challenge at a Time

11-24-2020

As promised, Sagi Reuven jumps back to the manufacturing floor and shares his thoughts on the role of a manufacturing execution system (MES), reporting, and analytics. Reuven describes in more detail the micro-solutions concept and why he thinks it will make a huge impact on achieving productivity excellence.

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Lean Digital Thread: Accelerating Global New Product Introduction

10-21-2020

James Dyson once said, “Manufacturing is more than just putting parts together. It’s coming up with ideas, testing principles, and perfecting the engineering, as well as the final assembly.” In this column, Sagi Reuven describes the importance of process engineering or new product introduction (NPI) and how process engineers can make a big difference.

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Lean Digital Thread: DFM Is Now as Easy as Spellcheck

09-30-2020

In past columns, Sagi Reuven has written about topics mostly related to the shop floor. In this column, he talks about design for manufacturing (DFM). It is clear to everyone in the Industry 4.0 era that the holy grail is to close the loop between design and manufacturing.

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Lean Digital Thread: Data-Driven Decisions and Micro-Solutions in Manufacturing

08-26-2020

In past columns, Sagi Reuven has written about two pillars: (1) data collection and the basic questions you can answer, and (2) material management and its impact. In this column, he discusses the next level—changing the mindset from reporting to analytics and focusing on making small improvements.

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Lean Digital Thread: Driving Productivity Excellence—Lean PCB Manufacturing

07-22-2020

During the last few months, thanks to COVID-19, Sagi Reuven felt the supply chain impact on our hardware production for the first time and hence dedicates this column to effective material management.

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Lean Digital Thread: Realizing ROI Starts With Making Smart Data

06-16-2020

Sometimes, you think too much about the bits and bytes, and you forget why you started this journey; we’re all caught up in a tornado of marketing buzzwords. In Sagi Reuven's debut column, he shares how initialization has to start by turning data into smart data.

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