Stefanie Naujoks
Stefanie Naujoks (Research Director, Manufacturing Insights Europe)

I am observing a trend toward collaboration in the manufacturing industry, and what’s really striking are two recent announcements from Volkswagen and BMW. Though the companies announced their collaboration initiatives back in 2019, their plans have now become more concrete. So, what have they been up to?

BMW’s Open Manufacturing Platform — It’s All About Scaling Industrial Innovations Faster

This collaborative initiative was launched by BMW and Microsoft in 2019, and recently, ZF, Anheuser-Busch, Bosch, and Capgemini have joined in. The major goal for all members is to collaborate on the development of digital factory solutions to scale industrial innovations much faster than a single manufacturer could.

From my perspective, the Open Manufacturing Platform is a promising initiative for manufacturers to drive the scale of process optimization and industrial innovation in a community that relies in particular on open source and shares the mindset of cross-company collaborative innovation.

It will definitely be interesting to see how this initiative develops and which partners will continue to onboard.

VW Industrial Cloud — It’s All About Achieving Efficiency and Productivity Gains in Plants

VW’s original plan was to connect its 120+ plants globally via an industrial IoT platform working with AWS and Siemens. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there seems to be no inertia here, and VW is still optimistic in pursuing its step by step approach to have 18 plants in Germany and elsewhere in Europe connected by the end of the year.

What’s new is that VW has also executed on its plans to open up its platform to its ecosystem of suppliers and partners. Initially these include ABB, ASCon Systems, BearingPoint, Celonis, Dürr, GROB-WERKE, MHP, NavVis, SYNAOS, Teradata, and WAGO.

Each partner will be able to develop its own software applications to help optimize their own operations, and each plant will benefit from a rapidly growing range of industrial software apps created by VW’s suppliers and partners.

Volkswagen appears to be developing its industrial cloud into an open partner network with an industrial app store approach in which plants can obtain applications directly from the industrial cloud.

We will certainly follow any further developments closely, and it will be particularly interesting to see how VW handles data sovereignty when sharing data between suppliers and VW plants.

Collaboration’s Potential

Collaboration in ecosystems is not happening exclusively in the automotive industry. However, the automotive industry has been the forerunner for a while, given the potential arising from connected car concepts.

Given that there are many ways of collaborating, it would be really interesting to learn about any examples of ecosystem collaboration in your specific manufacturing industry.


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