back to article Nvidia, Siemens tout 'industrial metaverse' to predict the future

Siemens and Nvidia don’t want manufacturers to imagine what the future will hold – they want to build a fancy digital twin that helps them to make predictions about whatever comes next. During a press conference this week, Siemens CEO Roland Busch painted a picture of a future in which manufacturers are besieged with …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Modelling of this kind already takes place, has for decades

    It's just a spin with fancy toys which will be based of existing methodology and likely be no more accurate.

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Yogi Berra -

    “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Yogi Berra -

      If nothing else, building a model and then studying the differences between the model's predictions and what actually occurs will serve as a reminder of that.

      A model is as good a way of visualising what you *don't* yet know as it is a record of what you do know.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "The answer to all of these challenges is technology and digitalization,"

    No, the answer to these problems is work.

    Your digitized thingamajig will be useless for getting a product onto a truck and shipped.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "The answer to all of these challenges is technology and digitalization,"

      Useless? No more useless than drafting, 3D modelling, simulation and then Product Lifecycle Management have been, and they've been very useful - hence their widespread adoption in industry.

      If you can benefit from creating digital models and prototypes of a product before spending millions on tooling - you can benefit from creating digital models for entire factories and supply chains.

      Yes, this Siemens spokesman was using buzzwords, but the vision is obvious enough - especially if you know that existing PLM software is not merely an evolution of draughting, and not just a simulation environment, but is a method of bringing together all product data (from the 3D model, component supplier agreements, simulation of parts, results of real-world testing and the difference, customer issues from the previous version...) and putting it to use. Cheaply simulate before expensively implementing

      Obvious and self evident.

      If you add to this more data collection, cheaper processing power and better simulations of physical systems, the more scenarios you can test ahead of time. The cost of simulation goes down. The scope of complex scenarios that can be simulated goes up. You might virtually stress-test your supply chain for example "What happens if factory X is flooded?"*

      Now, PLM software carries the usual warning 'digital simulation is not intended to replace physical testing, merely to reduce the search space'. Fine, an engineer can make physical prototypes for real testing. A CEO typically can't do that for business strategies. Simulation, prediction, analysis is all they've got.

      * Yeah, to fully analyse supply chains you'd need to interact with other companies' digital models and even then chaos would limit the scopes of predictions - just as with weather forecasting. However, the models would serve as a reminder that macro problems can arise from seemingly micro causes.

      And using VR you can have real people virtually populate your virtual factory, for insights into movement, ergonomics, shift patterns. Why stop there?

      Have people role-play through social policies before enacting them. I mean, any decision maker who can materially effect millions of lives should be duty bound to do everything they can to make the best decision, no?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "The answer to all of these challenges is technology and digitalization,"

        In the event if a fire, the fire crew have a live 3D model of the factory. Not the blueprints, not just the contractor's 3d models, but the factory as is - which tanks currently contain what flammable substance, which pallets and trucks are currently obstructing the loading bays. Obviously too datas on which humans are where.

        That would be good for human firefighters. Likely to be invaluable for robotic firefighters too.

  4. Howard Sway Silver badge

    technology will enable manufacturers to design, simulate, and operate new plants

    Yeah, exactly like we did using computers on my engineering degree 30 years ago. OK, it was fairly limited compared to what's available now, but big manufacturers all use this stuff, day in, day out. Sounds like a repackaging and hyping effort, coming from an established engineering firm like Siemens. And they should know that "photorealistic" is less important than "concentrates on the important stuff", but I guess that's the weakness of the ideas that emerge when engineering firms combine with graphics cards manufacturers.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: technology will enable manufacturers to design, simulate, and operate new plants

      Well, make your mind up: either it's a logical progression of existing methodologies - but with cheaper compute, better data and integration with more mature data systems, or it's a a load of marketing fluff. Can't it just be Siemens expressing their road map?

      Photorealism for many assessments is secondary to the physical properties of material parts, density, stiffness, friction, mass, wear characteristics, chemistry etc etc for sure, but a system capable of ray tracing is essential for assessing user visibility of emergency exits, glare from the sun, customer perception of a product etc. If you're an architect, it's useful to have a warning that in September your building reflects too much sunlight.

      You're sniffy about graphic cards manufacturers, but what do you think physical simulations are run on? Yep, hardware from nVidia and AMD amongst others.

      In any case, since they are using Pixar software, the photorealism is an effect of sophisticated physics modelling. Simulations only look like photographs because the physics modelling accounts for friction, viscosity, caustics, kinetics etc.

      Thirty years ago you might have heard of Structural Dynamics Research Corporation, but their product I-DEAS was combined with Unigraphics by Siemens and now goes by NX. I belive Siemens know a thing or two about industrial control as well.

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Hype and marketing

    Nothing new there.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Hype and marketing

      Yeah, based on this description I built a metaverse digital twin of the bar I worked in in 1993 as part of my degree.

      Turns out toilets were the biggest bottleneck.

  6. Old Used Programmer

    What's old is new again

    My ( of two days ago) wife, Dorothy J. Heydt, had industrial VRs in her novel, "A Point of Honor", published in 1998. So it's not like no one thought of the idea before. (Hmmm....wonder if any of the people touting this read her book?)

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: What's old is new again

      My condolences.

      Just read the synopsis on the book. Looks interesting!

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