Open Industry 4.0 Alliance: An Open Ecosystem for the Digital Transformation of Industrial Manufacturing Plants


• Founders and members endorse an open ecosystem and commit to using an Open Industry 4.0 Alliance Framework to achieve interoperability
• The open and interoperable approach provides attractive opportunities for companies of all sizes
• The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance aims for 80% of the machines in a smart factory to speak the same language

Hannover, Germany — April 2, 2019 — At Hannover Messe 2019, European companies from the mechanical engineering, industrial automation and software industries are driving the foundation of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance with a cooperation agreement. Founding members include Beckhoff, Endress+Hauser Group, Hilscher, ifm, KUKA, MULTIVAC and SAP SE. The alliance is open to all companies; other members include Balluff Group, Gebhardt Fördertechnik, Pepperl+Fuchs, ARVOS GmbH | SCHMIDTSCHE SCHACK, SAMSON and WIKA Alexander Wiegand.

Members of the alliance are committed to creating a standardized and open ecosystem for operating highly automated factories and plants, including logistics and services. The alliance is working to avoid proprietary stand-alone solutions to better enable digital transformation in European industry. The companies plan to work with future members to create what is known as an Open Industry 4.0 Framework on the basis of existing standards such as IO-Link, OPC UA and RAMI.     

Focus on Feasibility and Benefits

Operations in factories, plants and logistics centers in midmarket and large enterprises are characterized by heterogeneity — with things of many different classes, from many different manufacturers. Proprietary and varying standards in connectivity, data management, IT security and collaboration create additional effort and impede the rapid and comprehensive scaling of Industry 4.0. The founders and members of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance pledged to provide customers with an open, standards-based, and compatible offering for a product’s entire journey — from the object on the factory floor to service.

Customers can select what they need from a set of modular, compatible and scalable solution and service components. In each case, these build on the core competencies of the founders and members of the alliance and represent a low-risk, manufacturer-independent option from existing and known suppliers in the discrete manufacturing and process engineering industries. The connection to SAP® solutions helps ensure that business processes such as manufacturing execution, warehouse management or plant maintenance are collaborative across company boundaries with partner companies.

Open and Interoperable Solution

The open, standards-based offering of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance includes four modules — Device Connectivity, Edge, Operator Cloud, and Cloud Central — plus an associated service offering. Device Connectivity establishes the connection to the machines and sensors. Edge is the central node for all the important and locally necessary functions in the factory. Operator Cloud is the central node in the customer’s company that an open layer and supports all enterprise-centric functions and applications. Finally, Cloud Central enables the bidirectional exchange of data between companies, such as master data and measurement data from calibrations, as well as information including technical documentation and repair manuals.

The first proofs of concept were completed in 2018, with adaptable and flexible matrix production at KUKA. The aim is to produce additional proofs of concept from members and their customers by mid-2019. The founding members are preparing their first results for the second half of 2019.

What the Project Partners Say

•    Florian Hermle, Managing Director, Balluff Group: “We want to afford our customers openness and the greatest possible compatibility with our systems, because we are convinced that going it alone in a digital and highly connected world is doomed to failure in the long term. That is why we put our trust in an open ecosystem comprising technology, software and partners, which enables us to support our customers with our innovative integrated solutions on the path to the smart factory. We are therefore pleased to be part of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance.”
•    Gerd Hoppe, Corporate Management, Beckhoff: “As an automation provider of open control technology, Beckhoff welcomes the alliance’s initiative to design and propagate an open infrastructure for operators of cloud technologies in the capital goods sector. It makes managing the entire lifecycle of systems and plants significantly easier for operators in the process industries, production technology and logistics.”
•    Matthias Altendorf, CEO, Endress+Hauser Group: “The open architecture of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance meets all the requirements of the process industry. It is built on standards, ensures transparency across all business processes and guarantees the integrity of systems. With it, operators of process engineering plants can leverage the potential of Industry 4.0.”
•    Marco Gebhardt, CEO, Gebhardt Fördertechnik: “Right from the start, we designed our product GEBHARDT Galileo IoT Cloud to be open. Within the framework of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, we are now taking the next step toward compatibility at a much higher level. This benefits our customers: they can digitalize their automatic warehouse systems fast and easily, downtimes are avoided, and productivity and availability increase.”
•    Hans-Jürgen Hilscher, Managing Director, Hilscher: “Our customers want to put Industry 4.0 and all that it promises into practice. In the light of this, they are entitled to expect an open approach from us. For example, our solutions must be able to process several fieldbus technology standards.”  
•    Dr. Thomas May, Managing Director, ifm Corporate Group: “Our customers demand open and compatible collaboration, where every company can contribute and demonstrate their own strengths. The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance is the answer to these demands!”
•    Reinhold Stammeier, Chief Digital Officer, KUKA: “There are many stand-alone solutions on the market. However, customers demand end-to-end connectivity on the shop floor and a secure connection from the machine to the cloud. They demand more than a technical solution. More added value can only come from a common approach for semantic data models and data exchange between operators and manufacturers.”
•    Christian Traumann, Executive Director and Group CFO, MULTIVAC: “With cloud-connected machines, we can offer our customers not only more intelligent machines but also better service. Through our involvement in the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, we ensure that MULTIVAC solutions in the Industry 4.0 environment are designed to be sustainable and compatible with common market standards.”
•    Dr. Jörg Nagel, Director Technology and Operations, Neoception, a subsidiary of Pepperl+Fuchs: “The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance is an important step toward realizing new data-based business models by means of a standardized architecture for communication from the shop floor to the cloud, and thereby guaranteeing the data sovereignty of the operators of industrial assets.”
•    Dr. Thorsten Pötter, Chief Digital Officer, SAMSON: “We see the Open Alliance as an important way to achieve added value for our customers through digitalization. SAM DIGITAL, the digital portfolio from SAMSON, is designed to harmonize optimally with the services of the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance. With its balanced understanding of architecture’s openness and security and the resulting solutions, the seamless integration of SAMSON Asset Management solutions is one of the next logical steps for us.”
•    Hala Zeine, President, Digital Supply Chain and Manufacturing, SAP: “Members from the mechanical engineering industries, industrial process automation and software profit from the mutual pledge of all the alliance members to take action. This means all members can develop and offer their relevant and compatible solution and service portfolios. The key takeaway is that the combined customers of the alliance will benefit by having relevant data across their assets, as well as compatible solutions for greater equipment efficiency to help them achieve their digitalization goals faster.”
•    Karsten Stückrath, President, ARVOS GmbH I SCHMIDTSCHE SCHACK: “The complexity of Industry 4.0 technologies demands new approaches to solving a problem. Isolated products will not prevail in the long run, customers want to have standardized solutions. Thus the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance offers an ideal platform to generate true added value for our customers.”
•    Axel Kaltofen, Executive Vice President, Industrial Instrumentation, WIKA Alexander Wiegand: “From the customer’s standpoint, the standardization of different interfaces is the basis for effectively realizing new business models and achieving enhanced process optimization. For WIKA, the Open Industry 4.0 Alliance is the right step toward standardized interfaces for cross-industry networks of data and processes through the digitalization of software and hardware assets.”



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