BMW and Microsoft Collaborate to Kickstart Open Manufacturing Platform

by April 14, 2019 0 comments

Gone are the days, when the manufacturing industry was hindered by complex and proprietary systems which led to data silos and slow productivity.

Today, car companies who are an important pie of the manufacturing industry are making big investments in technology to help ensure that they are in the market way ahead of the competition.

Taking a step further into the next generation of automotive manufacturing the BMW Group announced a collaboration with the Microsoft Corp at Hannover Messe, on April 2, 2019.

This initiative called the Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP) aims at encouraging and developing more collaborative IoT developments in the manufacturing sector. The OMP launch focuses on smart factory solutions and builds standards to develop them in dedicated areas like on-premises systems integration and machine connectivity.


The Basics of the Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP)

The Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP) is designed to break down the cross-industry barriers through the creation of an open technology framework community. The solutions will be shared by the OMP users across the automobile industry for the greater good. The goal is to significantly shorten time to value, accelerate future industrial IoT developments and drive production efficiencies and thereby addressing common industrial challenges.

The OMP is built on the Microsoft Azure industrial IoT cloud platform. The platform is intended to provide community members with reference architecture built on open source components based on open data model and open industrial standards. This platform approach is designed to standardize the existing data models for future analytics and machine learning scenarios taking data as input points which have traditionally been managed by the legacy proprietary systems.


Use Cases to Unlock Value

Both BMW and Microsoft aim to use the industrial use cases and sample codes to develop their own service with greater data security which will be very beneficial to the community members and other partners.

Speaking on the development, Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Microsoft Cloud + AI Group said, “Microsoft is joining forces with the BMW Group to transform digital production efficiency across the industry”.

The BMW Group is all set to contribute to the initial use cases to the OMP community, as it positions itself strongly with over 3,000 machines, robots and autonomous transport systems which are connected its IoT platform, built on Microsoft Azure’s cloud, IoT and AI capabilities.

The company ascertains that in future, a wide array of used cases built on digital supply chain management, predictive maintenance and digital feedback loops, will be made available and developed further within the OMP community.

Oliver Zipse, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Production says, “Mastering the complex task of producing individualized premium products requires innovative IT and software solutions”.


Designed to Address Common Industrial Challenges

Both the companies believe that in the future, the OMP will be designed to address common industrial challenges which include on-premises systems integration and machine connectivity. This move will facilitate the reuse of software solutions among the channel partners which include the OEMs, suppliers and other partners thus significantly reducing the overall project implementation costs.

For example, a Robot Operating System (ROS) based robotic standard for autonomous transport systems for logistics and production will be contributed to the OMP to be used by everyone as per their requirements. The OMP will be compatible with the existing Industry 4.0 reference architecture, leveraging the industrial interoperability standard OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA).

As both Microsoft and BMW form the broader OMP community, the recruitment of additional partners is underway. The OMP Advisory Board is expected to be in operation by the end of 2019 with an initial cohort of four to six partners in place with a minimum of 15 use cases rolled out into selected production environments.

Microsoft and the BMW Group, the two initial partners further encourage other manufacturers and suppliers, including companies from different industries, to join the open manufacturing community.

With the industry giants collaborating to an IoT powered open manufacturing community, the future of manufacturing holds greater promises into knowledge sharing and enhanced production capabilities.

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