Drives & Controls Magazine May 2023

NEWS n 5 Open industrial AI and IT portfolio includes ‘first virtual controller’ AT THE RECENT Hannover Messe, Siemens unveiled a new open portfolio for automating and operating industrial production. Called Industrial Operations X, the interoperable portfolio is said to bring cutting-edge IT and AI technologies to industrial automation. It is part of Siemens’ Xcelerator digital business platform, which encompasses software, hardware, an ecosystem of partners, as well as a marketplace. The new portfolio includes “the first fully virtual controller” as well as new simulation software for engineering and commissioning drives using digital twins. As part of the launch, Siemens is “evolving” its Mindsphere cloud platform into a new “Insights Hub”. Siemens describes Industrial Operations X as “production engineering, execution and optimisation for the new world of IT/OT convergence”. It unites cutting-edge IT capabilities with proven software, combining technologies such as low code, edge and cloud computing, and AI, with automation and digital services. Siemens says it will result in more flexible, modular plants and production lines, where users can react to changes at the click of a button. It will also help to make industrial production processes more adaptable, autonomous and resilient, allowing companies of all sizes to become sustainable digital enterprises. Siemens argues that Operations X will help to unlock the full potential of the massive amounts of data available in Industry 4.0 factories. It says that these factories generate an average of 2,200 terabytes of data each month, and studies suggest that digitally enabled factories can deliver production increases of up to 30%. “With Industrial Operations X, we make OT adaptable at the speed of software,” says Siemens board member and CEO of its Digital Industries business, Cedrik Neike. “And by deploying AI on the shop floor, we enable manufacturers to access the terabytes of automation data locked inside their factories so that they can ultimately become more sustainable.” As part of the Industrial Operations X launch, Siemens announced several premieres at Hannover, including: n A hardware-independent virtual PLC based on its Simatic S7-1500 controller, that allows applications to be managed centrally (see page 18). n A cloud-based automation development service called Simatic AX that gives IT professionals a familiar environment based on Visual Studio Code, and version control via GIT and others. n A visualisation function for the edge called WinCC Unified for Industrial Edge, that makes administering software in machines easier, more flexible and more secure. As part of the changes, Siemens’ MindSphere cloud platform will be integrated into the core of its software portfolio with a stronger focus on delivering value from IoT data. Mindsphere will become Insights Hub and used to analyse assets and operations data locally or in the cloud. It will include applications for improving quality inspection and rework processes. Siemens says it will continue to integrate the latest IT advances into its existing automation technologies such as its Simatic S7, Simatic WinCC, Simatic PCS neo, and Sinumerik families. Industrial customers will also benefit from a interoperable offerings from Siemens and its partners. May 2023 AT THE HANNOVER MESSE, Siemens announced partnerships with several key players in the IT/OT world, including IBM and Microsoft, aimed at promoting its vision of the future of manufacturing. Siemens and Microsoft revealed plans to harness the collaborative power of generative AI to help industrial companies to drive innovation and efficiency across the design, engineering, manufacturing and operational lifecycle of products. To enhance cross-functional collaboration, the companies are integrating Siemens’ Teamcenter software for product lifecycle management (PLM) with Microsoft’s Teams collaboration platform and the language models in Azure OpenAI Service as well as other Azure AI capabilities. At the Messe, the two companies were demonstrating how generative AI can enhance factory automation and operations through AI-powered software development, problem reporting and visual quality inspection. One of their joint developments involves an Azure OpenAI powered assistant that can augment the creation, optimisation and debugging of code in software for factory automation. They are also planning to use industrial AI for quality inspections on factory floors. Meanwhile, Siemens Digital Industries Software and IBM are collaborating to develop a combined software portfolio that integrates their offerings for systems engineering, service lifecycle management and asset management. The companies will develop software to help organisations to optimise product lifecycles, and improve traceability across processes, prototype and test concepts much earlier in development, and adopt more sustainable product designs. Siemens teams up with Microsoft and IBM to deliver its vision Siemens’ new Industrial Operations X is an interoperable portfolio of products and services for product engineering, execution, and optimisation.