Rockwell and Microsoft team up on digital twins for industrial development
Rockwell Automation and Microsoft have signed a new five-year deal to combine their expertise in operational and information technology (OT and IT), to deliver new edge-to-cloud IoT solutions that bring connectivity and intelligence for industrial transformation. The deal will focus, in a major way, on digital twin solutions.
The pair said their collaboration will enable industrial organizations to save on infrastructure costs, accelerate ‘time-to-value’, and increase productivity. They will deliver solutions that connect information between development, operations, and maintenance teams via a “singular, trusted” data environment, they said. The solutions will augment and enhance existing offerings from both.
As well as edge hardware and edge-to-cloud connectivity, the arrangement will utilise ‘digital twins’ of industrial plants, processes, and products, and ‘digital threads’ running between, in order to cascade changes in order schedules and design tasks through the production phase. The duo said they will allow development teams to “digitally prototype, configure, and collaborate without investing in costly physical equipment”.
The same data environment, which render industrial processes and products in three dimensions in digital twins, will also enable IT and OT teams to securely access and share data models internally and also externally with partners. The companies have co-developed over 20 use cases across food and beverage, household and personal care, and the life sciences industries.
Judson Althoff, executive vice president of worldwide commercial business at Microsoft, said: “Today, one thing we know for sure is that no business is 100 percent resilient. Those fortified with digital capabilities and assets are more resilient than others, and the cloud is how they will thrive. We are pleased to deepen our already strong, decade-long relationship with Rockwell to help businesses… innovate with agility.”
Blake Moret, chairman and chief executive at Rockwell Automation, said: “This provides a holistic, simple solution for industrial IoT, and removes data silos that hinder industrial digital transformation initiatives. By eliminating a core barrier to automation initiatives, industrial organizations establish a digital thread connecting the entire enterprise, which in turn accelerates innovation, maximizes productivity and optimizes operations.”
Tristan Hunter, general manager for automation and operational technology at New Zealand-based Fonterra Co-operative, responsible for 30 percent of the planet’s dairy exports, said: “We are excited about collaboration. Moving data from our on-premise assets securely with context and providing new workflows for us to analyze and drive better outcomes is important to maintaining Fonterra’s high standards across our many plants globally.”
Solutions from the pair will be hosted on Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace; the next phase of co-innovation solutions will be available to joint customers of Rockwell and Microsoft customers in the first quarter of 2021.