25 Jul 2024


Industrial AI and IT portfolio includes ‘first virtual PLC’

Siemens’ new Industrial Operations X is an interoperable portfolio of products and services for product engineering, execution, and optimisation.

At this month’s Hannover Messe, Siemens is unveiling an open portfolio for automating and operating industrial production. Called Industrial Operations X, the interoperable portfolio brings cutting-edge IT and AI technologies to industrial automation. It is part of Siemens’ Xcelerator digital business platform, which brings together software, hardware, an ecosystem of partners, as well as a marketplace.

The new portfolio includes “the first fully virtual controller” as well as new simulation software for engineering and commissioning drives using digital twins. As part of the launch, Siemens is “evolving” its Mindsphere cloud platform into a new “Insights Hub”.

Siemens describes Industrial Operations X as production engineering, execution and optimisation for the new world of IT/OT convergence. It integrates cutting-edge IT capabilities with proven software, combining technologies such as low code, edge and cloud computing, and AI with automation and digital services. Siemens says it will result in more flexible, modular plants and production lines, where users can react to changes at the click of a button.

It will help to make industrial production processes more adaptable, autonomous, and resilient, allowing companies of all sizes to become sustainable digital enterprises.

Siemens argues that Operations X will help to unlock the full potential of the massive amounts of data available in Industry 4.0 factories. It says that such plants generate an average of 2,200 terabytes of data each month, and studies suggest that digitally enabled factories can deliver production increases of up to 30%. The new portfolio will make this data actionable – for example, by using AI analysis.

“With Industrial Operations X, we make OT adaptable at the speed of software,” says Siemens board member and CEO of its Digital Industries business, Cedrik Neike. “And by deploying AI on the shop floor, we enable manufacturers to access the terabytes of automation data locked inside their factories so that they can ultimately become more sustainable.”

As part of the Industrial Operations X launch, Siemens is showcasing several world premieres at Hannover, including:

• A hardware-independent virtual PLC based on its Simatic S7-1500 controller, which allows applications to be managed centrally and modified to meet changing needs. PLC projects can be scaled virtually and integrated with other IT offerings via open interfaces.

• A cloud-based automation development service called Simatic AX that gives IT professionals a familiar environment based on Visual Studio Code, and version control via GIT and others.

• A visualisation function for the edge called WinCC Unified for Industrial Edge, that makes administering software in machines easier, more flexible and more secure. A variety of apps will be available, focused on acquisition, pre-processing and analysis of machine or plant data.

As part of the changes, the MindSphere cloud platform will be integrated into the core of Siemens’ software portfolio with a stronger focus on delivering value from IoT data. Mindsphere will become Insights Hub and be part of the Industrial Operations X and Xcelerator ecosystem. The Hub will analyse asset and operations data locally or in the cloud to generate actionable insights. Applications will include Insights Hub Quality Prediction for improving quality inspection and rework processes.

Siemens says it will continue to integrate the latest IT advances into its existing automation technologies such as its Simatic S7, Simatic WinCC, Simatic PCS neo, and Sinumerik families. Industrial customers will also benefit from a interoperable offerings from Siemens and its partners.

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