Microsoft, BMW form manufacturing technology initiative for smart manufacturing

Microsoft, BMW form manufacturing technology initiative for smart manufacturing

Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP) would allow manufacturers to share use cases to develop new production processes.


Hannover, Germany – Microsoft and the BMW Group have formed a community initiative to enable faster, more cost-effective innovation in the manufacturing sector.

The Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP) is designed to break down data silos created by complex, proprietary systems by using an open technology framework and cross-industry community. At the Hannover Messe launch announcement, the partners said they hope to develop smart factory solutions that will be shared by OMP participants across the automotive and broader manufacturing sectors.

Built on the Microsoft Azure Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) cloud platform, the OMP should provide community members with a reference architecture with open-sourced components based on open industrial standards as well as an open data model.

The platform approach unlocks and standardizes data models that enable analytics and machine learning scenarios. Using industrial use cases and sample code, community members and other partners will be able to develop their own services and solutions while maintaining control over their data.

“Microsoft is joining forces with the BMW Group to transform digital production efficiency across the industry,” said Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice-President, Microsoft Cloud and AI Group. “Our commitment to building an open community will create new opportunities for collaboration across the entire manufacturing value chain.”

With more than 3,000 machines, robots, and autonomous transport systems connected with the BMW Group IoT Platform, which is built on Microsoft Azure’s cloud, IIoT, and AI capabilities, the BMW Group plans to contribute relevant initial use cases to the OMP community.

One example is the company’s use of their IIoT platform for the second generation of its autonomous transport systems in the BMW Group plant in Regensburg, Germany, one of 30 production and assembly sites worldwide. This has enabled the BMW Group to simplify logistics processes via a central coordination of the transport system.

In the future, this and other use cases, such as digital feedback loops, digital supply chain management, and predictive maintenance, will be made available, and in fact, developed further within the OMP community, with the BMW Group retaining ownership of its pre-existing business intellectual property (IP) and data.

“Mastering the complex task of producing individualized premium products requires innovative IT and software solutions,” said Oliver Zipse, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for production. “The interconnection of production sites and systems as well as the secure integration of partners and suppliers are particularly important. We have been relying on cloud services since 2016 and are consistently developing new approaches. With the Open Manufacturing Platform as the next step, we want to make our solutions available to other companies and jointly leverage potential in order to secure our strong position in the market in the long term.”

The OMP is the next evolution in the BMW Group and Microsoft’s long-standing technology partnership and mutual commitment to innovation and creating industry-wide opportunities for collective success.

The OMP will be designed to address common industrial challenges such as machine connectivity and on-premises systems integration. This will facilitate the reuse of software solutions among OEMs, suppliers, and other partners, significantly reducing implementation costs. For example, a ROS-based robotics standard for autonomous transport systems for production and logistics will be contributed to the OMP for everyone to use. The OMP is compatible with the existing Industry 4.0 reference architecture, leveraging the industrial interoperability standard OPC UA.

The broader OMP community is being formed now, with recruitment of additional partners underway. The OMP Advisory Board is expected to be in operation with an initial set of four to six partners in place and a minimum of 15 use cases rolled out into select production environments by the end of 2019. The two initial partners, Microsoft and the BMW Group, encourage other manufacturers and suppliers including companies from outside the automotive industry to join the community.