Business-software maker SAP SE and industrial conglomerate Robert Bosch GmbH are planning a closer tie-up to connect vehicles and machines over the internet.
SAP’s Hana data-analysis software will run on Bosch’s cloud-computing system for industrial customers, and SAP will draw on Bosch’s expertise in connecting factory equipment, tools and vehicles, the German companies said Wednesday. The cooperation comes as SAP and Bosch host a meeting of German and U.S. industrial-internet groups near its Walldorf, Germany, headquarters.
Companies including General Electric Co., Siemens AG and Bosch are investing in building sensor systems and software that can analyze data from forklifts, windmills, factory equipment and cars to speed operations. The goal is to lower costs and improve quality by letting workers pinpoint equipment and see when machines may be about to go down.
The pact opens the door for SAP to find new applications for its software among the manufacturers that use Bosch’s machines and automakers that use its parts. In one concrete example, the Bosch-founded startup Zeno Track is collecting data about the position of forklifts using cameras, GPS data and sensors, then transmitting it through the Bosch cloud to SAP’s Vehicle Insights software for work scheduling and maintenance.
Bosch Chief Executive Officer Volkmar Denner and SAP products and innovation chief Bernd Leukert spoke Wednesday at the meeting of the German Platform Industrie 4.0 and American Industrial Internet Consortium groups. The associations in March agreed to cooperate on projects that could let networks of machines and computers built on the two sets of standards inter-operate with one another. They plan to align the sample code and interfaces that product developers can use.
"There are massive benefits for the entire industry," SAP’s Leukert said at the conference Wednesday. "The customers we want to serve won’t limit their business to specific regions."
Bosch, for its part, Wednesday said it’s releasing a factory communication protocol called PMMP under the open-source Eclipse license.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has championed industrial-internet projects that can propel Germany’s manufacturing base into the future and help sectors like auto-making remain competitive with Silicon Valley. Companies known as the Mittelstand -- small and mid-sized manufacturers that are an important plank of the country’s economy -- are also adopting networked factory technologies.
By Aaron Ricadela