ZEISS and Microsoft's Cloud-First Approach to Manufacturing
ZEISS Group and Microsoft Corp. recently announced that they’d be entering a multi-year strategic partnership in an effort to accelerate ZEISS’ transformation into a leading cloud-first digital services provider. The announcement signals that ZEISS will be adopting Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform, from which the German manufacturer will be able to provide its customers with enhanced digital experiences, rapidly address changing market conditions, and increase its overall efficiency and productivity.
New Levels of Development
Microsoft Azure is an increasingly popular piece of software that the company launched back in 2010; it is used for “building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centres.” It provides high-performance compute, artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT) services, which ZEISS will leverage to provide original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) along their supply chains with new quality management. The new systems will also allow the company to enable microchip manufacturers to build more powerful, energy-efficient microchips, and deliver a new wave of innovative digital healthcare solutions for improved clinical workflows, enhanced treatments, and device maintenance.
On top of that, the adoption of a cloud-first mentality and implementation of Microsoft’s Azure will put ZEISS in prime position to create a seamless end-user experience on one digital platform, whilst maintaining their entire digital product through one cloud-native platform “to enhance continuous and agile product development.”
"As a global leader in optics and optoelectronics, ZEISS is committed to digitally enable its customers' business models, products, and services. We are proud to join forces with Microsoft in our quest to apply precision optics, IoT capabilities, artificial intelligence and machine learning to the most demanding processes in healthcare and manufacturing," says Dr Karl Lamprecht, ZEISS president and CEO.
"Improving the patient's life and doctor's work and driving industrial quality assurance in the production process have always been top of mind for us. We are taking our expertise to the next digital level together with Microsoft, a leading innovator and provider of digital technologies," he added.
Driving Industrial Efficiency through Connectivity
At first, ZEISS will look to enable its solutions in the industrial quality and research segment of the company, where it will be run on a connected quality platform, created and hosted on Azure. This should allow the customers’ production process to be directly fused with the solution. The innovative platform will help ZEISS by providing data analytics and insights, and through fostering a more “collaborative” mindset across the manufacturing and business operations. In other words, the domains, assets, and processes that have traditionally been managed in siloed, proprietary systems, working in unison with one another on a single platform.
To elaborate, the company “provides metrology and quality assurance solutions delivering meaningful information on parts dimensions, component behaviour and defect detection. Real-time and large-scale analysis of data that is collected at all stages of the manufacturing process is key to efficient and effective quality assurance, tightly integrated with today's and tomorrow's IoT-enabled production processes.
“[ZEISS] is driving innovations across industries to improve the quality of individual lives and create industrial efficiencies by overcoming data silos and integrating digital experiences,” said Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President Cloud + AI at Microsoft. “Harnessing the power of Microsoft’s cloud, AI and IoT services, ZEISS is transforming into a leading digital services provider.”
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.