“Mastering the complex task of producing individualized premium products requires innovative IT and software solutions.”A cross-industry collaborative effort to boost intelligent manufacturing knuckled down to work properly this week, with the Open Manufacturing Platform (OPM) launching working groups and new steering group members.

The OPM, founded in 2019 by BMW and Microsoft, operates under a Linux Foundation umbrella and hopes to help make supply chains and industry work in closer harmony, including via data sharing across supply chains.

This week it added the Bosch Group, car parts manufacturer  ZF Friedrichshafen and global brewery Anheuser-Busch InBev as steering group members and launched working groups dedicated to Industrial IoT reference architecture, and core services for ATS (autonomous transport systems).

What’s the Goal Here?

The goal is to have major industrial and supply chain companies working under the auspices of the Linux Foundation to create an environment of manufacturing innovation built on open source principles and data sharing.

One of the working groups established this month will look at the best practice in connecting IoT devices to the cloud. A key factor in this will to increase support for the OPC Unified Architecture (UA). This UA was first released in 2008 by the OPC Foundation, a standards and specification organisation that is trying to created a unified vision for how data is captured and exchanged between industry firms and between vendors.

Werner Balandat, head of production management at German car parts company ZF Friedrichshafen AG said: “Today, it is all about analytics and predictions but without data, no analytics and without connectivity, no data. Modern devices can easily be connected via the OPC UA.”

He added: “The working group IoT Connectivity will focus on providing industrial-grade edge and cloud functionalities for the integration and management of OPC UA devices in brownfield environments.”

A second OMP working group is focused on creating a semantic data modelling system that will make ‘data understandable’ and detail the connections between data across the manufacturing process.

Dr.-Ing. Michael Bolle, Member of the Board of Management, Robert Bosch GmbH commented that: “Users no longer receive cryptic, incomprehensible numbers and characters, but production-relevant information including their context. This semantic data structure ensures improvements along the entire value chain and makes AI-based business models possible on a large scale.”

The working groups are made up of members from the BMW Group, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bosch Group and ZF Friedrichshafen AG.

The Open Manufacturing Platform

First launched by Microsoft and the BMW group, the OPM runs as part of the Linux Foundation’s Joint Development Foundation, which helps provide the platform with technical specifications and industry standard support.

The OPM is built on the Microsoft’s Azure industrial IoT Cloud Platform. In keeping in line with the goal of the project the platform has been designed with the aim of facilitating the sharing of open source components and open data models. The platform has established a technology framework in which firms can share smart factory insights within the automotive and manufacturing industries, as well as IoT device specifications and controls.

Oliver Zipse, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Production commented at the launch of the OPM that: “Mastering the complex task of producing individualized premium products requires innovative IT and software solutions.”

“The interconnection of production sites and systems as well as the secure integration of partners and suppliers are particularly important. We have been relying on the cloud since 2016 and are consistently developing new approaches. With the Open Manufacturing Platform as the next step, we want to make our solutions available to other companies and jointly leverage potential in order to secure our strong position in the market in the long term.”

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