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Dell, Nokia and Kuka join Rexroth’s ctrlX automation platform

30 October, 2023

Bosch Rexroth has announced that Dell Technologies, Nokia and the robot-maker Kuka are now supporting its ctrlX industrial automation ecosystem, joining Wago, which earlier this year announced plans to use the real-time Linux-based OS for its mid- and high-performance controllers. The latest signings will give a significant boost to Rexroth’s ambition to establish ctrlX as a universal open system for automation applications.

Rexroth reports that the ctrlX World partner network which is a key part of the ecosystem is also continuing to expand, with 150 applications from 90 partner companies, and users able to choose from 16 main application categories. There are also more than 60 apps that can be used with ctrlX OS devices.

“Automation needs to move away from proprietary systems towards open, modular and scalable microservices architectures that will enable a profound transformation of industry in terms of digitalisation, connectivity and sustainability,” says Steffen Winkler, vice-president of Rexroth’s Automation & Electrification Solutions business. “ctrlX OS is the enabler for this.

“We’ve managed to win over new partner companies such as Dell Technologies and Nokia,” he adds. “As a result, we’re now getting involved in areas outside factory automation. We’ve now got partner companies on all levels of the automation pyramid and can thus offer a whole range of benefits on a technological level.”

Bosch Rexroth originally developed ctrlX for use in-house with its own ctrlX Core controls, but earlier this year it announced that it was opening up the system to third-party suppliers. They can use the hardware-independent ctrlX OS to connect their components to the ctrlX Automation portfolio, including items developed by partner companies on Rexroth’s ctrlX World platform.

Wago, the first external company to support ctrlX, is about to launch an edge controller and edge computer based on the OS at the SPS exhibition in Germany. “Together, we’d like to strengthen ctrlX OS and develop it further,” says Johannes Pfeffer, vice-president of Wago’s automation business.

ctrlX OS has potential applications beyond industrial control systems and edge PCs. As a virtualised system, it can also run on edge servers near machines and production lines, in data centres, and in the cloud.

Rexroth is working with Dell to offer ctrlX OS as an out-of-the-box software module for Dell’s NativeEdge edge operations software platform, which is designed to simplify edge operations and provide zero-touch implementation and zero-trust functions.

New partner companies are joining Bosch Rexroth with the aim of creating an open automation platform.
Image: Bosch Rexroth

Nokia is integrating ctrlX OS into its MX Industrial Edge (MXIE) on-premises OT (operational technology) edge system. Various applications can run on this and it supports private 5G wireless network technology. Nokia MXIE users will be able to install ctrlX OS as an application at the click of a mouse and run applications with reduced latency.

Robotics is seen as a particularly promising area of application for ctrlX. Partners, including Fanuc, are already offering robotics products to download from the ctrlX Store, ranging from programming and integration tools for cobots and industrial robots, to software for optimising palletising algorithms.

Kuka has recently joined the group and is offering connection and integration based on its Kuka.PLC mxAutomation interface. This is being used, for example, by the German automation supplier Mairotec in its MAIRobot app which will be demonstrated on the Rexroth stand at SPS 2023.

“Bosch Rexroth and Kuka have big plans and are looking to link their ctrlX World and Robotic Republic ecosystems,” reports Dr Kristina Wagner, senior vice-president of Kuka’s Automation Software Factory. “This once again shows that suppliers are pooling their strengths and that co-creation is simply the future.”

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