Metaverse for refrigeration: are we ready?

Metaverse for refrigeration: are we ready?

Metaverse is a fully developing opportunity able to generate up to 5,000 billions of market value. It will transform people’s interaction modalities and companies’ future ways of designing and manufacturing plants or providing services. Will it happen in the refrigeration world, too?

The metaverse is ready to enter all productive and commercial activities, and not only: almost all sectors will be concerned by this real revolution, potentially able to generate up to 5,000 billion dollars of value within 2030, according to McKinsey estimates. “The metaverse is too great to be ignored by companies”, the research and analysis agency states. Actually, there is a lot of disparity on estimates and forecasts, but all agree: the clamour for this phenomenon will turn into new business models that will extend the digital business. Now the question is: how can the refrigeration seize the opportunities that this new technological trend offers?

What the metaverse is and how it does work
First of all, it is worth explaining what the metaverse is. We can define it as a shared space of virtual reality that connects the material and the immaterial world, where users can interact with other users and with computer-generated environments. Such space is created by the convergence of physical and digital realities virtually enhanced. It provides advanced immersive experiences, besides being independent from devices and accessible through whatever kind of device, from tablets to head-mounted displays.
It can change our way of living and interacting one another and its potential applications range from entertainment to health care.
Its technological “core” is constituted by XR (extended reality) technologies, which include virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, even if, in next years, we expect it will mainly manifest itself through virtual reality.

The metaverse in manufacturing
We must still discover what impact the metaverse will exert on manufacturing and in refrigeration. A first applicative hint we can conceive is connected with the industrial use. Many manufacturing structures go on relying on human labour, but a growing number of manufacturers are implementing automation and robotics technologies powered by augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) to speed up efficiency, to decrease costs and to minimize contact points with man to ease the grief caused by the staff shortage.

Possible applications in refrigeration
The manufacturing metaverse is a net of virtual and digital twin systems connected with real machines that allow manufacturers to connect their digital assets with their customers’ and suppliers’. This creates a collaboration in the virtual world based on real-time data.
The power of simulation will change the rules of the game for the companies that will use the metaverse: it will be possible to adopt it to optimize the manufacturing planning, to speed up the design, to improve the overall productive efficiency and to increase accuracy for the companies that manufacture packaged consumer goods. It is possible to apply all that also in the refrigeration world. How? Some examples: the manufacturers of refrigeration appliances can offer an immersive experience to customers with their websites, having the possibility of planning the most targeted appliance for their requirements, in the right spaces, calibrating performances according to virtual scenarios. Companies can achieve an accurate virtual representation in 3D of the plant or of the structure, together with manufacturing lines for the implementation of various products. With haptics, 3D technology and virtualization, customers and companies can take part in product design sessions all over the world. Hybrid work teams can collaborate at the development of new products, find the right manufacturer and examine innovative projects and functions.
Moreover, refrigeration technicians and their staff employed in service can live immersive training experiences or manage an intervention from remote, to full benefit of the rapidity of a maintenance intervention, or of other kind.

An Italian example of metaverse application
Until here we might define all this pure theory or little more. But it is not. In fact, some have already undertaken the metaverse application in their business world. The example is precisely given by an Italian company, Ferroli, specialized in heating and conditioning products. As they explain in their website, the metaverse will integrate a specific measuring system of the CO2 emission reduction deriving from the use from remote of digital technologies for even complex manufacturing, training and collaboration activities. Concerning this, they write: “it is ascertained that digital devices exert a significant impact on the environment, but benefits by far surpass costs. Due to the digital revolution, in fact, it is possible to decrease displacements, then the emissions of climate-altering gases. Moreover, the activity digitalization allows dematerializing processes and making the decarbonization process concrete”.
How will they succeed in their purpose? Some time ago Ferroli introduced the augmented reality to allow installers to carry out a virtual inspection aimed at submitting an estimate. The system permits to the installer of increasing the work efficiency without having to go to the customer’s. “The technology decreases displacements and CO2 emissions, meanwhile permitting to save time, and shares in protecting citizens’ health through the physical distancing”, the company itself highlights.