The Industrial Cloud is designed as an open platform. What does that mean — and why is it architected that way?
Patel: There are two levels of engagement when it comes to openness. First within Volkswagen, we encourage our people from all brands to develop use cases either with a local focus or for a Group-wide roll-out. Beyond that, there’s the world of external partners. We want to build a vibrant digital network that thrives thanks to all the contributors who put innovative ideas on the platform as well. The cloud enables them to speak the same transaction language. That is important if you want to connect plants and their tooling that might at times be 60 years old with new, digital technology.
Allen: Partners are crucial for the success of the Industrial Cloud. The more the companies contribute to solving the existing challenges, the more dynamic the Industrial Cloud will become. Together we can create a platform with IIoT solutions from which many partners can benefit – companies from the automotive industry and even beyond.
There are 13 partners participating already. How big do you envision the community to be, and what benefits can the partners expect?
Allen: Such a community is attractive for contributors and consumers alike and eventually creates a flywheel that propels goodness forward. It all starts with Volkswagen as the first consumer. But many manufacturing companies face similar challenges. Partners applications that have shown great results for the Industrial Cloud within Volkswagen, might also attract other customers. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Patel: The journey of transforming into a data-driven company is all about discovering unused potential. We get the flywheel going by getting our plants technologically on board so that they can make use of their data to be more productive and innovative. For instance, with the help of partner applications we optimize our maintenance cycles reducing downtimes in production processes by analyzing streams of data. Another application reduces potential rework on vehicles through the use of artificial intelligence. The solutions developed at one plant can be shared to many others.
Looking at the supply chain, can you give us an example how the Industrial Cloud can be beneficial to partners?
Patel: Transparency in the supply chain is crucial for all, this became especially obvious during the pandemic. When you’re running a plant, you need to know from tier one through tier X if a downstream supplier has any availability or quality issues. But it’s important that our partners see a benefit from opening up. No system will work unless you give something back in the form of data and information.
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