Volkswagen, together with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and integration partner Siemens, is opening up the Industrial Cloud to other manufacturing and technology companies. New partner companies will be able to connect with Volkswagen plants and to contribute their own software applications for optimizing production processes to the Industrial Cloud. This way, a rapidly growing range of industrial software applications for Volkswagen’s plants will be created.
Each location will be able to obtain applications for its machinery, tools and equipment direct from the Industrial Cloud to optimize production (app store approach). The Volkswagen Group expects significant efficiency and productivity gains at its plants. The partner companies will be able to scale and further develop their applications in one of the world’s largest automobile production networks. This will also enable them to optimize their own processes and products. As a first step, eleven pioneering international companies, ABB, ASCon Systems, BearingPoint, Celonis, Dürr, GROB-WERKE, MHP, NavVis, SYNAOS, Teradata and WAGO, will be joining the Industrial Cloud.
“With the Industrial Cloud we are creating a platform allowing partners to contribute their solutions. This will help the Volkswagen Group achieve global efficiencies at its plants. At the same time. we are creating the pathway for partners to scale their applications and optimize their own operations. This way, everyone will benefit”, says Nihar Patel, Executive Vice President New Business Development at Volkswagen AG.
In future, the Industrial Cloud is to include all Volkswagen’s factories throughout the world and its global supply chain and will facilitate data interchange between systems and plants. The system is based on AWS technologies in the fields of Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, data analytics, and computing services, which have been extended specifically to meet the requirements of Volkswagen and the automotive industry.
“Today’s news continues our initial mission of the Industrial Cloud project to help Volkswagen together with Siemens and their partners to focus their resources on optimizing production, creating new business opportunities for smart products, and improving operational efficiency across the entire value chain”, says AWS Dirk Didascalou, Vice President of AWS IoT, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “We look forward to watching the marketplace collaboration flourish as participants take advantage of the AWS native open architecture of the Industrial Cloud.”
Growing Range of Software Applications on the Industrial Cloud
The Volkswagen Group will expand the range of software applications thanks to the support of partner companies. As a first step, eleven pioneering partners are already making their software applications available via the Industrial Cloud.
These include, for example, an algorithm with artificial intelligence to calculate requirements for driverless transport systems for plant logistics and to distribute these systems in the ideal way. Also available are software for optimizing plant efficiency (Overall Equipment Effectiveness, OEE), and an application for generating a digital twin on the cloud to simulate the capacity deployment and maintenance intervals of machines without intervening in the physical production process. Discussions with additional companies are already underway.
Opening of Industrial Cloud Brings Benefits to all Concerned
Volkswagen believes that the evolution of its Industrial Cloud into a partner network will bring benefits to all the companies participating. Volkswagen plants will be able to use a growing range of software applications. This will boost the development of the Industrial Cloud as a whole. In addition, partner companies could also provide specialized applications which are relevant for certain Volkswagen plants. This way, the Volkswagen Group will be able to take account of the diverse structure of its plants at the same time as avoiding the need for inefficient in-house development of specialized applications. The partner companies will gain specialist knowledge for the development of their software and ultimately also for optimizing their own business processes and products. This will be especially beneficial if the companies concerned wish to establish their software applications as market solutions.
From Partner Network to Marketplace for Exchanging Applications
Volkswagen and AWS see the development of the Industrial Cloud into an open partner network as a key step and intend to further intensify the App Store approach. In the long term, the partners aim to create a marketplace for industrial applications. All participants would then be able to exchange their applications with each other, to acquire applications and to use them irrespective of any links to Volkswagen. Development of the technological basis for this marketplace is already in progress.
In an interview, Nihar Patel, Executive Vice President New Business Development at Volkswagen AG, and Sarah Cooper, General Manager of IoT Solutions at Amazon Web Services, Inc., explain the advantages of new partnerships and give an outlook on the further expansion of the cloud.
Q: Volkswagen and AWS have been working on the Industrial Cloud for a good year now. How would you describe the mission from today’s perspective?
Patel: We want to bring together data from all the Volkswagen Group facilities and make it usable on a real time basis. This will create the basis for even more efficient processes and increased productivity. We have already completed the first part of the journey – by the end of this year, 18 locations will be connected via the cloud. But that is only part of the task. In the future, we want to integrate other companies, such as suppliers, into the cloud. We are now taking an important step with eleven international partners who provide their own software applications.
Q: What is the benefit?
Patel: The data that we integrate with the Industrial Cloud creates more efficiency through intelligent algorithms and software applications. For example, one of the eleven pioneering partners has developed an algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to optimize the use of driverless transport systems. Another company has an application that can be used to simulate the maintenance intervals of machines. The examples show: As the number of partners grows, so does the range of solutions our plants can draw on. The Industrial Cloud is not a closed club. We are open to cooperation – with our suppliers and any other company that wants to contribute solutions and/or consume them.
Cooper: At AWS, we have extensive experience with building technology solutions that create value for both solution providers and users. Our insight is: Additional partners always bring in additional data, which in turn enables new solutions. This creates a positive dynamic that leads to further improvements.
Q: How might such improvements look?
Cooper: A good example is software for optimizing plant efficiency. But this is only one option – analyzing data offers almost unlimited opportunities to expand the range of industrial applications at a rapid pace.
Patel: Another example is energy management – a major issue in every factory. Together with partners, we want to work out solutions to reduce energy consumption – not just in one plant, but at many locations. This is good for the environment and good for Volkswagen. The more plants we bring into the cloud, the greater the economies of scale.