How Siemens’ Amberg Factory Uses Red Hat OpenShift

Dec. 9, 2022
To improve predictive maintenance, quality assurance, and cybersecurity at its Amberg, Germany, factory, Siemens has created a cloud-native, modular architecture using Red Hat OpenShift.

Among the clearest pieces of evidence that the industrial digital transformation is underway is the increasing use of tools once reserved solely for IT in operations technology (OT) applications. In many cases, automation technology suppliers are showing the way by implementing these technologies in their own production operations.

A case in point is Siemens, whose Amberg electronics plant in Germany has moved away from a legacy Oracle system it used to run operational systems such as order management. This order management system at the Amberg facility manages 350 changeover processes between different production lines to ensure the right tools are in place and to update system status.

To replace the legacy system, Siemens is now using Red Hat OpenShift to create a more modular, microservices-based IT/OT architecture. This move allows developers at Siemens to apply artificial intelligence-generated data insights for smaller-scope changes to avoid disrupting operations.

Red Hat OpenShift is an enterprise Kubernetes container platform (see sidebar below for more information) deployed on premises in Siemens’ Amberg data center to create a cloud-native, modular architecture for its operational processes and systems.

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According to Siemens, making changes to the previous Oracle system required planned system downtime due to the larger scope updates required by that system. Any unplanned downtime to the order management system on the Oracle system could impact the ability to meet the facility’s daily production goals for some 1,200 different products. Siemens Simatic products such as controllers, HMI, SCADA, and I/O are produced at the Amberg factory.

Amberg’s OpenShift application

With the improved data collection and analysis enabled by Red Hat OpenShift, Siemens’ developers can gain insights into current production system conditions and evaluate opportunities for ongoing improvement. Siemens is also using Red Hat OpenShift to automate routine tasks and support code reuse, enabling operations to continuously improve the performance of its production systems.

“Using Red Hat OpenShift at our Amberg facility means our developers can be more involved and see the real-time changes that occur when applying data insights to our production operations,” said Christian Schulze,IT project manager at Siemens Amberg. “Time savings as small as tenths of a second add up in an integrated production line like ours. It generates 4.5 million requests each day, and even millisecond improvements in processing time can have a positive effect.”

Integrated GitOps capabilities (which automate application development processes) in OpenShift enable more frequent updates and deployment of applications for uses such as predictive maintenance and quality assurance. These updates also continuously improve the prediction accuracy of OpenShift’s artificial intelligence tools used to analyze the Amberg’s factory data in the cloud. 

Siemens is also using Red Hat OpenShift to address cybersecurity threats to its manufacturing systems. This is provided by Red Hat via ongoing patches and bug fixes for the entire container application stack.

“Security has become an increasing concern, given the value of our data, the complexity of our operations, and the potential cost of disruption,” said Schulze. “Even though our central IT team is only 80 km away in Munich, we cannot have any interruption in connectivity that would slow a production line in our manufacturing facility. Red Hat OpenShift allows us to complete patches on a rolling schedule with no disruption to daily production.” 

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