Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains

How the Global Collaboration Village empowers manufacturers to create advanced and sustainable industry practices

At the heart of industrial transformation, the Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chain Hub within the World Economic Forum’s Global Collaboration Village is where technology, sustainability and collaboration converge.

At the heart of industrial transformation, the Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chain Hub within the World Economic Forum’s Global Collaboration Village is where technology, sustainability and collaboration converge. Image: Global Collaboration Village – World Economic Forum, Accenture and Microsoft

Jaci Eisenberg
Head of Content Curation, Global Collaboration Village, World Economic Forum
Francesca Zanolla
Initiatives and Communities Specialist, Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains, World Economic Forum
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Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • The Global Collaboration Village, a World Economic Forum initiative in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft, has a new thematic experience, the Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chain Hub.
  • Through the Hub, the Village fosters innovation in the industrial sector using extended reality to simulate processes within manufacturing and logistics.
  • Interactive experiences within the industrial metaverse also enables users to grasp best practices from leading manufacturers and industrial companies.

At the heart of industrial transformation, the Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chain Hub within the World Economic Forum’s Global Collaboration Village is where technology, sustainability and collaboration converge.

It is also where the manufacturing sector's present meets its future. A key thematic space inside the Village, the Hub serves as a pivotal platform, employing extended reality (XR) to illuminate the intricate network of supply chains and manufacturing roles.

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This digital confluence does much more than simply serve as a technological showcase. It simplifies and visualizes complex manufacturing concepts, thereby encouraging collaboration and unlocking innovation – all within a purpose-driven platform that brings leaders together to solve real-world problems through the collaborative potential of XR.

For example, the Hub uses extended reality to expose the repercussions of a single disruption in the supply chain, revealing a chain of events. It also simplifies manufacturing concepts and fosters collaboration for innovation.

Overall, the Hub is reshaping the manufacturing sector's present and future within the Village, emphasizing the interplay of technology, sustainability and collective approaches.

Manufacturing ecosystems are pivotal in steering the global economy and society towards sustainability and inclusivity. Challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, have highlighted the need for resilient manufacturing.

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains aims to showcase manufacturing’s role in driving sustainable and technological progress and transforming the workforce.

It promotes sustainable growth through cutting-edge technology, fostering industry's shift to net zero. The Centre also cultivates new practices for workforce empowerment and provides insights into industrial strategies and supply chains, contributing to global economic and social well-being.

How immersive tech can support manufacturers

Immersive technologies are rapidly transforming the manufacturing and supply chain sectors. Prominent examples include the use of digital twins – virtual replicas of physical devices, systems or processes that use real-time data and other sources to create a dynamic representation that mirrors the physical counterpart –­ in factories and production lines, such as those implemented by Siemens, offering sophisticated simulation and collaboration platforms.

Similarly, Saudi Aramco’s initiative to train engineers using virtual environments exemplifies the practical application of such technologies. These innovations, drawn from partners of the Village, underscore the growing significance of immersive tech in enhancing operational efficiency, reducing costs and enabling more effective training.

The manufacturing sector is one of the most eager adopters of the industrial metaverse, leveraging XR technologies – that create immersive experiences by blending the digital and physical worlds – to enhance efficiency. Digital twins - models that seamlessly integrate real-time data – enable refining design and operations.

Recognizing the sector's interest in digital advancements, the Forum has created a dedicated space within a thematic hub developed in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft.

This area showcases insights, priorities, use cases and experiences from the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains and its partners. Currently available to select partners, plans are in place to open it to a wider audience in the future.

Since the launch of the Village, leader feedback from varied sectors has guided its evolution. They highlighted the metaverse's role in visualizing the often-invisible aspects of supply chains, typically 93% obscured due to distance and complexity.

This input birthed a supply chain visualization in the Hub, enhancing understanding of these vital connections. The Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains Centre's new project, Future Proofing Global Value Chains, explores strengthening supply chain reconfiguration collaboratively amidst global changes.

The Hub's supply chain mirrors the World Economic Forum's circular supply chain ethos, which emphasizes reuse and recycling. Visitors explore a virtual, industry-neutral supply chain, witnessing connections from R&D to recycling. This design will be instrumental at the Forum's 2024 Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, and aims to foster innovative discussions.

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How is the World Economic Forum contributing to build resilient supply chains?

The Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains Centre is committed to identifying and highlighting best practices in progressive factories, fostering active participation from Forum partners and other companies in the network.

Interactive experiences to help define best practices

In leveraging the immersive learning potential of the metaverse, the Hub is developing interactive experiences around a comprehensive collection of best practices identified by the Centre.

These experiences transport participants to a virtual "use case" factory, mirroring the production of programmable logic controllers, which are essential in numerous electronic devices. The initial interactive session highlights augmented reality (AR) overlays' role in aiding on-the-job training for new or revised processes.

This exercise, adopted by leading organizations as detailed in the World Economic Forum’s Augmented Workforce: Empowering, Transforming Manufacturing report, enables participants to experience first-hand how AR enhances task precision, underscoring the significance of augmentation in supporting workers within a human-centric framework.

Furthermore, a second interactive module, driven by AR overlay, illustrates how emerging connected technologies facilitate real-time worker feedback, promoting a culture of ongoing improvement. This is mirrored in the Hub, where participants utilize a connected worker platform to log service requests, enabling them to experience how data transitions from individual contributions to collective insights, spurring effective changes.

Looking forward, the medium-term plan for this best practice virtual factory includes adding more metaverse-enabled experiences, enabling participants to delve into various practices before implementing them in their businesses.

This initiative aims to encourage broader adoption of solutions like leading net-zero practices, driving extensive collaborations across the manufacturing sector's stakeholders.

Revolutionizing the manufacturing landscape

As we look to the future, the Global Collaboration Village’s Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chain Hub stands at the forefront of revolutionizing the manufacturing landscape.

Through its innovative use of immersive technology and collaborative approaches, the Hub is not just redefining how we visualize and interact with supply chains, but is also paving the way for a new era of industrial efficiency, sustainability and inclusivity.

This pioneering initiative promises to be a vital catalyst in shaping a more resilient and interconnected global manufacturing ecosystem, driving forward the industry's evolution and reinforcing its pivotal role in shaping our world.

Maria Basso, Centre Curator, Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains and Kyriakos Triantafyllidis, Head of Growth and Strategy, Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains at the World Economic Forum also contributed to this article.

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Related topics:
Advanced Manufacturing and Supply ChainsDavos Agenda
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