BMW Group, Microsoft announce Open Manufacturing Platform to advance industrial IoT

April 11 2019

In conjunction with the Hannover Messe 2019 convention, Microsoft and the BMW Group announced the launch of the Open Manufacturing Platform. The OMP is based on the Azure Industrial IoT platform, offering an open data model and reference architecture for members. Ahead of the partnership's announcement, BMW connected 3000 devices to its BMW Group IoT platform, powered by Azure.

The OMP is intended to standardize data models and support manufacturers sharing their data. In a separate initiative, Microsoft tied its announcement in with the SAP Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, Industrial Internet Consortium, Plattform Industrie 4.0, OPC Foundation, and Open Data Initiative. An OMP Advisory Board will be assembled with four to six partners and 15 use case rollouts by the end of the year. New members will have access to the ROS-based robotics standard for autonomous transport systems. OMP will interoperate with the existing OPC UA standard and Industry 4.0 reference architecture.

"Microsoft is joining forces with the BMW Group to transform digital production efficiency across the industry.  Our commitment to building an open community will create new opportunities for collaboration across the entire manufacturing value chain," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and AI Group, in a statement.

The big picture for Azure IoT

The BMW announcement came almost a year to the day after Microsoft committed to spend five billion dollars on intelligent edge and IoT technology. In a blog by Julia White, corporate vice president for Azure, reflecting on the past year, Microsoft indicated that the number of IoT devices supported on its platform has grown 150 percent, reaching major customers beyond BMW such as Walgreens, Walmart, Toyota Material Handling Group, Starbucks and Chevron. Volkswagen is using Azure IoT Edge to connect its vehicles, while Chevron is doing predictive maintenance for heat exchangers at its refinery and Starbucks is using Azure Sphere to manage energy consumption, waste production and beverage quality.

According to White, Microsoft has made over 100 updates for Azure IoT in the past year alone, including the introduction of Sphere, IoT Central and IoT security for Azure Security Center. For modeling, it also introduced Digital Twins, Maps, Spatial Anchors and Remote Rendering, together with Azure Machine Learning models for edge computing. Additionally, Microsoft hailed its 10,000 IoT partners and 70 new partnerships in IoT since the start of the year.

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