BMW embraces Microsoft Azure to create cloud-based Open Manufacturing Platform

robotic automation software in a factory

BMW and Microsoft have joined forces to develop a cloud-based open manufacturing platform, which aims to help businesses take advantage of industrial IoT tech.

It's been built to power factories of the future, focusing on open technologies that can be used and interconnected with any other manufacturer's infrastructure.

The companies have not disclosed how much money they're investing in the project and not have they disclosed any other businesses they're in talks with to expand it, but Microsoft has explained it hopes to work with another four to six manufacturers and suppliers by the time the year is out.

The partnership also revealed it wants to have launched 15 use cases by the end of the year, whether they're to create open source components that can be used across manufacturers, standards or data.

The Open Manufacturing Platform will be built upon Microsoft's industrial IoT platform and will be powered by Azure (no surprise there), just like BMW's current set-up.

"Microsoft is joining forces with the BMW Group to transform digital production efficiency across the industry," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Microsoft Cloud + AI Group. "Our commitment to building an open community will create new opportunities for collaboration across the entire manufacturing value chain."

The German car manufacturer said it already has 3,000 machines running using Microsoft's cloud suite of services and analytics tools and many of its innovations will be absorbed into the Open Manufacturing Platform.

"The interconnection of production sites and systems as well as the secure integration of partners and suppliers are particularly important," Oliver Zipse, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Production said.

"We have been relying on the cloud 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."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.