Industry On The Move: Microsoft, BMW Team Up For Open IoT Platform

The Future Of Industry 4.0 Solutions

Steven Lerner

Even BMW, one of the world’s leading carmakers and adopters of industrial Internet of Things (IoT), realizes that manufacturing production can be deterred by data silos and inefficiencies. To counter these obstacles, it is embarking on a new initiative that could change the technologies used in manufacturing.

A New IoT Platform

On April 2, Microsoft announced that it was forming a new partnership with BMW to enhance open industrial IoT development. Called the Open Manufacturing Platform, the solution offers a reference architecture and open source components derived from industrial standards and open data.

Microsoft is developing the IoT platform on Azure and hopes to attract several other partners in either the automotive or manufacturing space by the end of 2019. Its goal is to have a minimum of 15 use cases that community partners will then leverage to develop their own unique solutions.

BMW was selected to be Microsoft’s first partner in this initiative due to its utilization of IoT solutions. There are over 3,000 machines, robots, or autonomous transport systems that BMW already uses in its factories.

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

The goal for the new initiative is to develop both the technology and to encourage open cross-industry dialogue that could accelerate future industrial IoT innovations.

What This Development Means For Enterprises

The emergence of this new platform could have a profound impact in enterprise IoT, particularly in manufacturing. Despite the prevalence of digital transformation in the manufacturing sector, there are numerous obstacles that prohibit innovation. In addition to the siloed data, there seems to be an absence of a propriety platform across the industry. Unlike other industries that have these platforms that connect with each other, each platform is currently unique to the manufacturer.

With this new initiative, Microsoft could help standardize the way that industrial enterprises leverage IoT platforms and use data for business growth. This new partnership should aid manufacturers in their quest to capture and analyze all of the data that is being created by robots and digital sensors. One of the goals of the Open Manufacturing Platform is to increase production efficiencies and shorten production time, which can be achieved if data analytics is accelerated.