Siemens accelerates innovation at the factory edge

Siemens Amberg harnesses cloud-native application development and AI-driven data insights for faster software delivery and increased productivity across its digital factory network.

Siemens has used Red Hat OpenShift, the industry’s leading enterprise Kubernetes platform, to improve the availability, performance and security posture of mission-critical applications at its Amberg production facility.

Siemens’ Amberg manufacturing and development site is part of Siemens’ Digital Industries division and pioneers Industry 4.0 applications. Siemens Amberg produces multiple products including SIMATIC, its industrial automation portfolio. Data is processed at the factory edge to help keep the average response time down.

With a goal to improve flexibility and efficiency of production, shorten cycles of innovation and maximize uptime, Siemens Amberg needed to upgrade its existing monolithic IT infrastructure and support more seamless collaboration between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) teams. Siemens chose to implement a cloud-native, modular, microservices-based architecture on Red Hat OpenShift running in the factory.

Siemens collects data at the factory, analyzes it in the cloud and applies learnings to improve operations continuously with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) tools. AI use cases at the factory include applying machine learning (ML) for predictive maintenance and quality assurance, such as replacing equipment before it breaks and inspecting x-ray images of hidden solder joints to detect potential anomalies. By predicting failures in advance, Siemens is able to save downtime costs. Integrated GitOps capabilities in OpenShift enable more frequent updates and deployment of these applications to the factory floor, enabling continuous improvement in the AI inferencing prediction accuracy.

Siemens is also building private 5G infrastructures in plants including Amberg, aiming to facilitate the flexible analysis of larger data volumes. Siemens has the option to implement a software-defined private 5G solution on Red Hat OpenShift as an extension of its container platform.

Red Hat OpenShift provides Siemens with a more consistent open hybrid cloud platform, making it possible for Siemens to manage, scale and improve the security capabilities of applications interoperably from core to edge. The company can choose to run Red Hat OpenShift at the manufacturing floor or consume it as a managed service in multiple public clouds. Siemens worked closely with Red Hat Consulting and completed Red Hat Training courses during the deployment process to upskill its teams and embrace agile working methodologies that help it more quickly get value from its new technologies. Siemens is now able to reuse code around the world to apply best practices to other factories.

Using Red Hat OpenShift’s self-service and automation capabilities in combination with GitOps, Siemens developers are spending less time on routine tasks and can now push smaller, iterative changes more regularly without interrupting operations. For example, patches or updates for applications can be applied daily. Previously, Siemens only performed system upgrades twice a year, scheduled a year in advance, because they entailed disruption to production operations. Being able to more quickly deliver system updates also helps address potential security vulnerabilities and threats faster, without interrupting production operations. Red Hat provides ongoing patches and bug fixes for the container application stack, including the container host, cluster management and applications and services running on the platform.

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