IT/OT ‘heavyweights’ Microsoft and Siemens join Open Industry 4.0 Alliance
Microsoft and Siemens have signed up to the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, a two-year old consortium of “European” industrial companies geared to drive cross-vendor interoperability for factories and warehouses. They join as “heavyweights” of the IT and OT sides of the conjoined industrial IoT landscape, respectively, the alliance said.
The alliance, formed at Hannover Messe in 2019, has almost 80 members, from mid-sized industrial suppliers to multinational corporations. Other members include Beckhoff, Busch, Fujitsu, KUKA, NTT Data, SAP, Schneider, Software AG, TRUMPF, and Weber. A statement distinguished the approaches of the new members as going from ‘cloud to edge’ and from ‘edge to cloud’, respectively.
Microsoft’s portfolio of Azure-branded edge and cloud processing and analytics tools “have helped connect billions of different assets [and] process massive amounts of real-time data”, it said. Microsoft noted it is a member of the OPC Foundation and the Open Manufacturing Platform, as well, with similar missions around open and interoperable industrial hardware and software solutions.
Siemens’ industrial automation solutions, plus its foray into IoT-positioned IT/OT crossover with Mindsphere, are driving digital change in discrete and process manufacturing industries, by “linking OT data from the entire lifecycle of products and production at the engineering and manufacturing level with IT at the business level”.
Nils Herzberg, board spokesperson at the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance and head of digital supply-chain and Industry 4.0 at SAP, said: “Two major global players are demonstrating their commitment to openness in the industry. This underlines the attractive concept of our alliance… [As] digital transformation advances rapidly, and technologies such as edge computing, AI and blockchain are setting new standards, the accession of Siemens and Microsoft is especially valuable. Together, the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance is helping to shape this transformation in an evolutionary way and anchor it with concrete, real-world use cases.”
Ulrich Homann, corporate vice president of cloud and AI at Microsoft, commented: “We want to help businesses close the gap between theory and practice and deliver interoperable Industry 4.0 solutions at scale… Together, we can help businesses turn silos and productivity restraints into resilient operations and data-driven, integrated solutions across supply chains. By applying cloud, edge, and AI capabilities through open standards, manufacturers can reach the next level of productivity, accelerate the time to value, and address changing market needs agilely.”
Stefan Gierse, head of strategy and technology for digital industries at Siemens, said: “We have been shaping industrial revolutions since our founding. We’re driving digital transformation for our customers and helping them make better decisions by connecting data from the physical and virtual worlds. Achieving the next industrial revolution will require a powerful ecosystem. By improving interoperability together we lay the foundation for the development of new IoT applications and business models that will help anybody benefit from Industry 4.0.”