Manufacturing Looks to Connected Devices and the Cloud to Drive Growth

NUREMBERG, Germany — Nov. 24, 2010 — The manufacturing industry is thriving. A report out this week by the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) shows that manufacturing is growing at the fastest rate since 1994 in the UK, with most businesses planning continued investments. The UK is not alone. Earlier this year, the U.S. manufacturing industry was touted as leading the economic rebound (The Telegraph, June 2010), and the latest data shows manufacturing accelerated for the first time in three months across Europe (International Business Times). As the industry starts to strengthen, manufacturers are looking for new, innovative ways to enhance efficiency, drive growth and meet other critical needs; the natural next step is to look to the cloud.

Microsoft, Siemens and Intel demonstrate the Innovative Production Line (IPL) proof of concept (POC) at SPS/IPC/Drives in Nuremberg, Germany.

Microsoft provides manufacturers with a trusted, familiar and easy-to-use platform that allows them to instantly respond to their constantly changing environment and customer demands, positioning them favorably to be able to adapt and scale for growth. This week at SPS/IPC/Drives in Nuremberg, Germany, Microsoft, Siemens and Intel will demonstrate the latest evolution of the Innovative Production Line (IPL) proof of concept (POC) to illustrate a real-world vision of how manufacturers can seamlessly connect the plant floor to the IT data center. Since it was last on display at Hannover Messe earlier this year, the IPL has evolved extensively and is now attached to the cloud via Windows Azure to showcase connectivity between industrial devices and cloud services, enabled by robust, flexible solutions that scale from end to end.

Although the IPL is a POC in its current form, it shows how Windows Azure coupled with the latest technologies from Windows Embedded — including Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows Embedded Server, Windows Embedded Enterprise 7 and Windows Embedded CE — enables constant production process optimization, reduces delays and increases overall factory productivity by supporting the analysis and execution of real-time factory floor data from enterprise applications.

The IPL also demonstrates dedicated functionality to manage the efficient use and conservation of energy, such as green IT sensors that switch off devices automatically when they are not in use and solar cells on the roof that provide a current which is measured and stored in a Microsoft SQL Azure energy portal. This portal could then provide instant access to real-time information, enabling manufacturers to estimate supplemental energy requirements. For example, it can superimpose a weather map over the factory location to forecast when to purchase more energy from the grid, thus helping manufacturers establish a more environmentally friendly business.

Another new addition to the IPL is Intel’s Active Management Technology (AMT) for monitoring from devices to services in the cloud. This intelligent device management enables users to monitor device health and identify if a device is faulty or needs to be rebooted, as well as reviewing read-out information in real time.

These are just a few of the scenarios being demonstrated at the Windows Embedded booth at SPS/IPC/DRIVES. Other scenarios include these:

  • Complete value chain tracking. To improve efficiencies, factory managers are able to review factory statistics and change production parameters to optimize production, ensuring materials are ordered from the supplier when stocks get below a certain point and adjusting the delivery of material to the production line.

  • Remote intelligent device management. Factory managers can monitor the health of individual devices and the factory line as a whole. A summary dashboard provides a quick snapshot for the factory manager to be able to see which devices are not working and get more details such as the device health history, predicted device failures, online presence and location personnel responsible for the maintenance of the device.

  • Factory online rebranding. All new branding is hosted on Windows Azure; users simply choose the brand they require, which is then pulled down by the Edge Storage Server and pushed to all devices. The devices automatically show all screens in the new branding once the new production starts.

If you are attending SPS/IPC/DRIVES this year, please check out the IPL at the Windows Embedded booth in Hall 7A, stand 150, or follow us on Twitter at @MSFTWEB for updates from the show. For further information you can also visit

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