Siemens and Google Cloud partner on AI-based solutions in manufacturing

Google Cloud and Siemens, an innovation and technology company in industrial automation and software, have announced a new cooperation to optimize factory processes and improve productivity on the shop floor.

 Siemens intends to integrate Google Cloud’s leading data cloud and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) technologies with its factory automation solutions to help manufacturers innovate for the future. 

Data drives today’s industrial processes, but many manufacturers continue to use legacy software and multiple systems to analyze plant information, which is resource-intensive and requires frequent manual updates to ensure accuracy.

 In addition, while AI projects have been deployed by many companies in “islands” across the plant floor, manufacturers have struggled to implement AI at scale across their global operations.

For more than 170 years, Siemens has built its business on pioneering technologies that have led the manufacturing industry forward. By combining Google Cloud’s data cloud and AI/ML capabilities with Siemens’ Digital Industries Factory Automation portfolio, manufacturers will be able to harmonize their factory data, run cloud-based AI/ML models on top of that data, and deploy algorithms at the network edge. This enables applications such as visual inspection of products or predicting the wear-and-tear of machines on the assembly line.

Deploying AI to the shop floor and integrating it into automation and the network is a complex task, requiring highly specialized expertise and innovative products such as Siemens Industrial Edge.

The goal of the cooperation between Google Cloud and Siemens is to make the deployment of AI in connection with the Industrial Edge—and its management at scale— easier, empowering employees as they work on the plant floor, automating mundane tasks, and improving overall quality.

“The potential for artificial intelligence to radically transform the plant floor is far from being exhausted. Many manufacturers are still stuck in AI ‘pilot projects’ today – we want to change that,” said Axel Lorenz, VP of Control at Factory Automation of Siemens Digital Industries. “Combining AI/ML technology from Google Cloud with Siemens’ solutions for Industrial Edge and industrial operation will be a game changer for the manufacturing industry.”

“Siemens is a leader in advancing industrial automation and software, and Google Cloud is a leader in data analytics and AI/ML. This cooperation will combine the best of both worlds and bring AI/ML to the manufacturing industry at scale. By simplifying the deployment of AI in industrial use cases, we’re helping employees augment their critical work on the shop floor,” said Dominik Wee, Managing Director Manufacturing and Industrial at Google Cloud.

[Column] Shanon Ramdaw: How the Cloud Transforms Manufacturers into Agile, Efficient Innovators

The demand for manufacturing organisations to be agile and efficient is higher in today’s technological world than ever-before. Rapid technological advancements, coupled with an uncertain and unstable economic and work climate, mean that organisations are required to remain adaptable, functional, and highly efficient from anywhere, at any time. 

Manufacturing organisation are being confronted with new a[nd intensified challenges within their day to day operations. These challenges could potentially be represented as issues with product personalisation, with an increasingly high demand for a quick turnaround on products that are configured and personalised. Businesses may also be struggling with project profitability, especially within the current economic climate and when faced with an intricate project that involves multiple product entities.

Further challenges may arise in the areas of global supply chain and supply chain collaboration. Here vendors and contractors require efficient and timeous methods in order to collaborate and track the flow of information and goods. Manufacturing organisations also need to be able to manage and maintain their service revenue growth, and to effectively manage and utilise their analytical data. 

“For business success in today’s modern world, especially with the rapid and increasing demands placed on organisations during the time of the Covid-19 Pandemic, shifting operations to the cloud instead of on-site applications can aid in increasing productivity, reliability and efficiency,” explains Shanon Ramdaw, Business Development Manager at iOCO, within iOCO Software Distribution, the local Infor Master Reseller.

Ramdaw confirms that Cloud based technological applications, services, and solutions, afford businesses the opportunity to optimise business processes, functionality, efficiency, and growth. This empowers manufacturing organisations with the ability to deliver the right information to the right place at the right time. Cloud-based operations allow for access to real-time data that can be accessed from anywhere and from multiple devices. This accessibility allows for quicker turn-around time on decision making processes, with instant and immediate access to relevant insights.

Utilising cloud-based services can additionally empower staff be to be more efficient, effective, and innovative. Work-life modernisation can be optimised when employees and decision makers have instant and in-depth access to accurate, real-time data. Efficiency is further increased through cloud-driven cross-functionally collaboration on product and business innovation.  

“Cloud based services such as Infor’s CloudSuite Solutions, ensure the streamlining of processes. This means that information processing and the information gleaned from relevant data is accurate and instant. The problem with manual and on-site systems is that the more complex the product or process becomes, the higher the risk of human error. Yet with cloud-based solutions this human error risk is practically eliminated,” continues Ramdaw.  

Cloud-based solutions give manufacturing businesses the advantage of being able to leverage and transform former technology efficiently through the incorporation of real-time data. Strategy and innovation can be optimised through product and project planning management. With cloud-based solutions, real-time data can be incorporated directly into the plan and the process of the plan can be continually and efficiently monitored. This allows organisations to adjust product and strategy plans more effectively allowing for adaptability and flexibility, while driving innovation, agility, and efficiency. 

The correct cloud-based solutions bring manual based process from outside an organisation’s digital ecosystem into it.  This offers manufacturing organisations powerful tools, meaning less time and money are spent on sourcing and managing information, and more time is spent on business growth, strategy, and innovation. “Complex products become easily configurable, solutions become readily available, and mobility and accessibility are enhanced. Therefore, businesses are able to become exponentially more innovative and agile in their manufacturing processes,” concludes Ramdaw.

Shanon Ramdaw is the Business Development Manager – Infor Services at iOCO, Infor’s Gold Partner in Africa.