Microsoft and BMW have teamed up to develop an open manufacturing platform that they claim will speed up the adoption of industrial internet of things (IIoT) solutions.
The platform runs on Microsoft Azure’s IIoT cloud platform, which BMW already uses to streamline logistics in its German factories, and will be opened up to between four and six other manufacturers by the end of the year.
The announcement comes just days after Volkswagen announced its own plans to connect operations across its 122 plants through Amazon Web Service’s cloud platform.
The industrial internet of things market generated $57m in 2017 and is expected to grow 21 per cent a year over the next five years, sparking fierce competition between Amazon and Microsoft, the two biggest players in public cloud computing.
“Microsoft is joining forces with the BMW Group to transform digital production efficiency across the industry,” said Scott Guthrie, the head of Microsoft’s Cloud and AI Group. “Our commitment to building an open community will create new opportunities for collaboration across the entire manufacturing value chain.”
BMW already manages more than 3,000 machines, robots and autonomous transport systems on Azure and has pledged to provide use cases to other manufacturers which sign up to the platform.
Members will have access to a reference architecture with open source components to integrate their own systems and a repository of data models to apply machine learning solutions. The platform meets the interoperability standards established by OPC.
“The use of open international industry standards such as OPC UA in the open manufacturing platform community enables manufacturers, machine builders and suppliers to integrate their existing equipment and systems efficiently and securely,” said Stefan Hoppe, the CEO of the OPC foundation. “For a long time, companies have promoted proprietary, closed ecosystems — the OMP commitment to open development will shape tomorrow’s manufacturing.”