From the editor’s desk: Google partnership brings OT and IT closer together

June 2021 News

The recent announcement by Siemens and Google Cloud that the two will cooperate to develop AI-based solutions for manufacturing combines the best of both the OT and the IT worlds. As an industrial automation powerhouse, Siemens is ideally positioned to combine its process technology and expertise with Google Cloud’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) nous to bring a new generation of process optimisation tools to the factory floor.

Steven Meyer.

The fundamental problem this new partnership plans to address is how best to put AI-based tools in the hands of the process engineer in a scalable and intuitively easy to use way. While it is understood that today’s industrial processes are data driven, practical implementation is often complicated by the diversity of the legacy systems out there. Another problem is that data science is not an area in which many manufacturers have an established expertise. The net result is that up until now, companies have struggled to implement AI projects that scale across global operations. Rather, the approach has resulted in isolated ‘islands’ of AI, which do what they were designed to do, but miss the mark when it comes to realising the IIoT vision of breaking down the operational ‘silo structures’ present within many manufacturing organisations.

At first glance, the idea of integrating cloud-based AI software programs with the shop floor’s industrial networks presents some daunting challenges. So how do they plan to achieve it? The answer is by using the Siemens Industrial Edge platform as the go-between.

By design, the Industrial Edge platform is equipped to manage data processing applications, either in the cloud or at the machine (edge). This flexibility makes it possible to bring AI to the shop floor in a way that integrates easily with the automation networks that reside there. According to Axel Lorenz, vice president of control and factory automation at Siemens Digital Industries, the potential for artificial intelligence to transform the plant floor is far from exhausted, and this new approach will be a game changer to help the manufacturing industry innovate for the future. Applications that immediately spring to mind are product quality control inspections and predictive maintenance strategies for production machinery. Both areas where AI and ML are already making a difference, just not in ways that are easy to scale across the enterprise.

Of course this is not Siemens’ first foray into the cloud. So why choose Google Cloud for this venture? The reason is partly the synergy between Google Cloud’s offerings and the end-game Siemens has in mind, and partly to give its customer base greater freedom of choice when it comes to dealing with preferred cloud suppliers. What this combined solution really offers manufacturers though is the ability to run cloud-based AI and ML models on top of their data, as well as deploy these algorithms at the network edge. Another step on the journey towards OT and IT convergence – see for more on the announcement.


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

From the editor's desk: Is additive manufacturing poised to go mainstream?
March 2021, Technews Publishing (SA Instrumentation & Control) , News
As digital manufacturing technology pushes its way further towards the production floor, additive manufacturing (3D printing) is emerging as a viable option to complement the more traditional methods ...

A new generation of sensors for liquid analysis
May 2021, Endress+Hauser South Africa , News
Endress+Hauser introduces the next generation of Memosens digital technology for simple, safe and connected liquid analysis.

Siemens and Google Cloud to co-operate on AI-based solutions in manufacturing
June 2021, Siemens Digital Industries , News
Siemens intends to integrate Google Cloud’s data cloud and artificial intelligence/machine learning technologies with its factory automation solutions to help manufacturers innovate for the future.

BMG hydraulic solutions for all sectors in KZN
June 2021, Bearing Man Group t/a BMG , News
BMG’s Regional Service Centre in KwaZulu-Natal provides engineering solutions designed to optimise productivity for all customers.

Rockwell Automation and Comau partner to simplify robot integration
June 2021, Rockwell Automation , News
Rockwell Automation and Comau have announced that they are joining forces to give businesses worldwide vital tools to maximise manufacturing efficiencies through unified robot control solutions.

GirlCode and RS inspire the next generation of female coders
June 2021, RS Components SA , News
More than 50 female learners and their teachers were recently invited to attend a day of inspiration, technology and fun.

Endress+Hauser holds its ground despite the pandemic
June 2021, Endress+Hauser South Africa , News
Endress+Hauser weathered the 2020 pandemic year well. The Group created new jobs and expanded its global sales and production network.

Africa’s most advanced perlite facility
June 2021 , News
Percolite producer Pratley has a dedicated, state-of-the-art filter aid production facility that represents the most advanced plant on the continent.

Optimising buildings for low-occupancy
June 2021, Schneider Electric South Africa , News
For building managers, facilities managers, owners and operators, having buildings at low or zero occupancy for extended periods of time, means a significant change in operating requirements and a need to adjust building systems accordingly.

Hitachi ABB Power Grids launches EconiQ
June 2021 , News
The EconiQ portfolio of products, services and solutions contributes towards a carbon-neutral future and accelerates the green energy transition