Industrial customers & partners bet on Microsoft, from cloud to edge devices

Following last month's stand-out Hannover Messe, Microsoft rounds up the exciting innovations showcasing Industrial IoT, AI, cobotics, digital twins and mixed reality being leveraged by its customers and partners.

Innovations showcasing Industrial IoT, AI, cobotics, digital twins and mixed reality were on display at Microsoft's booth at the annual Hannover Messe industrial fair.
Innovations showcasing Industrial IoT, AI, cobotics, digital twins and mixed reality were on display at Microsoft’s booth at the annual Hannover Messe industrial fair.

The progress manufacturers have made this past year is tremendous. Smart factories, for example, have already seen an average of 17 – 20% increased overall productivity.

They have created higher-quality products at lower costs. They are building entirely new business models and service offerings.  But our customers’ aspirations are bigger and bolder. For example, by the year 2050, the demand for food is expected to outpace production by more than 70%.

Agricultural stability is being threatened by receding levels of fresh water, decreasing availability of arable land and global warming, causing issues like toxins in our food supply. The workforce will continue to modernise and shift.

For further insight from Hannover Messe visit our round up site here

The next step is to use our Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled levels of intelligence to optimise the entire manufacturing process and solve these challenges. There are three distinct themes that stood out at this year’s event:

Increased productivity and safety

What we have built with customers is driving tangible results. Today’s new data-driven manufacturing capabilities are not only lowering costs and reducing waste, but they are also keeping people safer and mitigating our impact on the planet.

For example, Swiss technology firm Bühler AG, a leader in food processing systems, has worked closely with Microsoft to develop LumoVision, a revolutionary optical sorting system that not only significantly improves current food cleaning practices, but can eliminate nearly 90% of contaminated grain compared to 50% for conventional sorting machines.

Empowered by the Microsoft cloud and IoT technology, this solution builds on Bühler’s advanced process expertise, and as a result, LumoVision is faster and more precise than other grain-sorting technologies.

Bühler's LumoVision food processing machine at Hanover Messe - Courtesy of Microsoft
Bühler’s LumoVision food processing machine

We saw how Microsoft HoloLens has become an invaluable tool in taking digital twin technology to the next level. Thanks to the explosive expansion of Industrial IoT, digital twins have become cost-effective to implement and are helping companies head off problems before they even occur.

Our customers are using digital twins to prevent downtime, improve equipment performance, develop new service opportunities and even plan for the future by generating simulations and visualising their processes in mixed reality.

For instance, Schneider Electric, whose industrial software business has recently combined with AVEVA, is leading the evolution of what the industry refers to as a “process digital twin.”

Schneider and AVEVA are leveraging HoloLens to optimise ItalPresse’s entire manufacturing process by creating virtual prototypes even before a plant or manufacturing asset is built, which can provide significant cost and efficiency savings.

Schneider will also showcase its recently announced traceability tool for the food and beverage industry, combining its knowledge of the food and beverage industry with Microsoft’s expertise in blockchain, given the growing complexities with tracing food products.

Additionally, one of our leading robotics automation partners, ICONICS, showed how a technician wearing a HoloLens can work alongside a factory robot while receiving instructions and key factory performance indicators displayed over his field of vision via HoloLens.

Increased monetisation

Microsoft’s customers and partners are creating new value chains and services that simply did not exist five years ago. Tech innovations have allowed them to establish digital SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) teams, open new “one-size-fits-one” plants, and monetise things like predictive maintenance, 3D modelling and smart operations.

For example, thyssenkrupp announced it is expanding MAX, the company’s IoT-based predictive service solution for elevators, to Latin America. thyssenkrupp is confident that MAX can reduce elevator downtime by up to 50%, making its predictive models second to none in the global elevator industry.

Bayer's connected pest-management system Hanover Messe courtesy of Microsoft
Bayer’s connected pest-management system

ABB, a global leader in industrial technology, is leveraging Microsoft’s Azure cloud technologies for its ABB AbilityTM platform, one of the largest Industrial IoT platforms in the industry. Leveraging AI from Microsoft, it can empower organisations to optimise Enterprise Asset Management and automatically detect anomalies to minimise maintenance costs across its customers’ install base.

Bayer’s Environmental Science Business Unit is digitally transforming a decades-old pest control practice for trapping rodents with a smarter digital mousetrap that provides remote monitoring built on top of the Azure IoT platform.

The solution collects information from sensors installed within each trap and immediately alerts pest management professionals when rodents are present, so they can head off infestations and increase the effectiveness of pest control programs.

Increased collaboration

By 2020, IDC predicts that 60% of plant floor workers will work alongside assistance technologies that enable automation, such as robotics, 3D printing, AI and mixed reality.

Several leading manufacturing and robotics companies have already created new and evolved “lean” processes that leverage these capabilities to help service technicians optimise tasks and lower waste and inefficiencies, while providing better customer service.

For example, Toyota Material Handling Europe is planning its 10-year vision for the factory of the future by evolving its traditional lean processes. Its goal is to find more efficient ways to distribute intelligent logic across the factory and its robotic systems.

Toyota Material Handling Europe's smart pallet drone
Toyota Material Handling Europe’s smart pallet drone

Using AI capabilities like Microsoft AirSim and mixed reality, the company can train autonomous pallet drones to recognise patterns, automate processes and learn the flow on the plant floor safely alongside humans.

This innovative solution would drastically reduce disruptions to warehouse operations, one of the key roadblocks to deploying autonomous systems. Toyota Material Handling Europe has also worked with Microsoft to develop T-Stream, a brand new, all-in-one solution.

Built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud, it runs on Windows and utilises Bing Maps and GPS systems to provide technicians with improved, proactive services that can carry out maintenance for customers before breakdowns occur.

For further insight from Hannover Messe visit our round up site here