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Processing large volumes of data becomes more and more important

The digital enterprise

Data platform for the digital enterprise

Processing large volumes of data is especially important for networked companies with software-based production, also known as Digital Enterprises. With the open MindSphere – Siemens Cloud for Industry platform, there now is an inexpensive, virtualized data management system available.

Reducing cycle times, increasing flexibility, enabling individualized mass production, and minimizing the consumption of energy and resources – these are the challenges manufacturing companies face today. To remain competitive, they need to improve their entire value chain, from design and production planning to engineering and services. This also means that in order to make the right decisions early, a vast quantity of captured data (“Big Data”) must be analyzed, and it must be determined which of all these data are truly necessary.

MindSphere – Siemens Cloud for Industry brings real production into the virtual world. First, all company data defined by the customer are collected and transmitted to MindSphere at determined time intervals. Then the data are analyzed, and those that are relevant for optimization are made available. These Smart Data make it possible to increase production efficiency and tap the full potential of the plant.

Open cloud with many possibilities

Because MindSphere has been conceived as an open IT ecosystem, it is not only possible to exchange data outside the company itself, but the system can also link to a wide variety of products. “Open standards and interfaces make it possible to obtain data from industrial devices from a wide variety of manufacturers and analyze them in MindSphere with their own algorithms – for example, for online monitoring of machine tools that are distributed all over the world,” explains Dr. Florian Beil, head of technical sales and mobilization at Siemens. This means that manufacturers, especially machine and plant manufacturers, can develop and offer new digital services – for example, in the areas of predictive maintenance, energy data management, and resource optimization. Because the system is open, customers and developers can develop apps, known as MindApps, and make them available in the cloud. The currently available beta release already includes the Fleet Manager and Visual Analyzer MindApps, which help users connect their machines to MindSphere, configure them, and read out and visualize the data. The data can be saved in either a public, private, or internal cloud, depending on the availability each user needs.

 

MindSphere has been conceived as an open IT ecosystem and is not only possible to exchange data outside the company itself, but the system can also link to a wide variety of products.

Reliably capturing and analyzing machine data

But how do the data get to the cloud? MindConnect Nano ensures good, manufacturer-independent communication between machines and plants and MindSphere. “MindConnect Nano relies on standards such as OPC UA and Siemens’ S7 protocol. In the future, this function will be integrated into all communication-capable products in our portfolio,” says Beil. The Simatic IOT2000 intelligent gateway will offer an additional means of communication. After being captured, the data are made available in MindSphere, which uses the same technology as the SAP HANA cloud platform. Beil explains: “We deliberately chose the SAP HANA cloud platform for MindSphere because with the partnership between SAP and Siemens, industrial customers can easily get started with the Internet of Things. I am sure that with MindSphere, we have found the perfect answer for the consolidation of information technology and operations technology.”

Guaranteed data protection

For Siemens, it goes without saying that only the most advanced security and encryption technologies are used when it comes to capturing, transmitting, storing, and processing data, and the company has also made additional efforts to guarantee data security. For example, data are hosted on German servers in the SAP server farms, where the same strict security and data protection standards apply to all customers. An on-premise solution is even envisaged for the future. With this solution, the data remain on each customer’s company premises and are processed in MindSphere from there. Finally, with Plant Security Services, Siemens offers holistic solutions that help minimize risks. In addition to these technological measures, it is also important to the users of MindSphere, whether plant operators or machine manufacturers, that whoever creates the data also owns them. Only the creator of the data can decide which data are transferred to MindSphere and who has access to them.

Future potential

“MindSphere helps customers generate added value with data and is the basis for providing digital services. This makes MindSphere an essential component of the Digital Enterprise Software Suite. Siemens is continually expanding the platform and driving digitalization in industry,” says Beil, summing up the potential of the open cloud.

MindSphere helps customers to generate added value with data and is the basis for providing digital services.«

Dr. Florian Beil, Head of Technical Sales and Mobilization, Siemens AG
Picture credits: Siemens AG