What and why of metaverse
The supply chain of a process manufacturing industry involves challenges that have become more pronounced in a post-pandemic world.
Some of the complexities include managing a global supplier base, ensuring availability of raw material, reducing carbon footprint, optimizing operations to improve efficiency and reduce cost, tackling regulations, and wading through geopolitical uncertainties.
Metaverse, the fusion of the physical and the digital world, has the potential to transform the way companies manage their supply chains. It is built on technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), and internet of things (IoT). That will infuse neural traits in existing processes and systems, making those more connected, intelligent, and resilient.
By developing a virtual replica of the existing world, stakeholders can interact, collaborate, and simulate the supply chain operations to take informed and timely decisions. That will help build a transparent and intelligent supply chain for resilient operations.
In the metaverse world
Metaverse, though not a new concept, has witnessed some phenomenal growth since the pandemic.
According to a report by US research firm Gartner, quarter of the world population will spend at least one hour per day on metaverse by 2026. Such popularity is expected to push up its market size to about $824 billion by 2030, a CAGR of 39% from 2022. Industries are looking to explore the various facets of the metaverse in more details in the future, considering the opportunities it is likely to offer.
The metaverse can positively impact supply chain functions of the process industry in the following ways:
Collaboration with partners - Strengthening relationship and improving transparency with suppliers and buyers are key priorities for top executives in supply chain risk mitigation strategy. Suppliers and buyers in process manufacturing are more diverse and spread globally. To remove geographical constraints in the future, metaverse will enable every entity in a supply chain to have a digital twin of their facilities, where stakeholders can take a virtual tour. It will help buyers and sellers gain insight into each other’s operations excellence, environmental stewardship, and capacity to be adaptive towards market fluctuations. It will also enable the avatars of buyers and sellers to have real time interactions to negotiate contracts, build trust, and work collaboratively for cost effectiveness and margin improvements in the overall supply chain.
Facility and process optimization - Metaverse will allow plant operators, managers, and planners to have an immersive experience of layout of facilities before a single brick is placed on the ground. Simulation can be utilized to understand movement of goods and resource inside facilities, train the workforce like operating a forklift in warehouse, and work in hazardous conditions for efficient operations. Critical processes and machines can be tested to work in peak loading virtually. Their performances can then be analyzed to predict breakdowns and operate in optimum conditions to reduce waste and energy consumption.
Optimizing logistics - Transportation and logistics function have always been crucial and complex activities to manage in supply chains. 3D models of logistics ecosystem will assist in simulating real-life traffic, weather, and road conditions providing visibility of total lead time, making cognitive decisions to select correct mode and optimum route for shipments for sustainable operations. Algorithms of autonomous vehicles can be tested in virtual environment without real world risk thus acting as a catalyst to accelerate deployment of self-driving vehicles in the transportation industry.
Enhancing better relationships
Besides smoother and precise operations, metaverse can create a better understanding of customer behavior and preferences that would help in creating personalized customer experiences and more tailored offerings.
Effective planning - In this volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous (VUCA) world, it is impossible to have an accurate demand forecast. The supply chains have to be resilient enough to respond to any disruptions caused by external events. By simulating real world situations like pandemic, war, or natural disasters on 3D models of supply chain, managers can identify weak links in value chain and avoid disruptions in future.
Enhanced customer experience - Consumer preference is changing rapidly, especially in the chemical industry. That is pushing manufacturers to innovate at pace at a time when consumers are looking for more ecofriendly products. Metaverse will provide flexibility to collaborate with various entities in the product development ecosystem like R&D, customer, academia, and startups to co-innovate and develop products in the virtual space, receive feedbacks, and reduce innovation cycle time.