Google Cloud Targets the Manufacturing Industries with Siemens

April 29, 2021
Siemens is integrating Google Cloud’s data cloud and artificial intelligence/machine learning technologies with Siemens’ Industrial Edge platform.

As industry began more widely adopting cloud computing services over the past few years, AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft’s Azure tended to be the two most prominent cloud services cited for such applications. SAP’s S/4HANA cloud was also prominent, but typically in paired services with specific technologies aligned with SAP’s products. Google’s cloud services, however, were not as prominently mentioned in many manufacturing cloud applications until recently.

Google has been working to change that over the past year via some prominent announcements, such as their alliance with OSIsoft and its PI System and, more recently, via a partnership with Siemens around artificial intelligence (AI)-based applications.

The cooperation between Google and Siemens revolves around Siemens plan to integrate Google Cloud’s data cloud and artificial intelligence/machine learning (ML) technologies with its factory automation products via Siemens Industrial Edge platform. According to the two companies, this integration of technologies will allow manufacturers to “harmonize their factory data, run cloud-based AI/ML models on top of that data, and deploy algorithms at the network edge. This enables applications such as visual inspection of products or predicting the wear-and- tear of machines on the assembly line.”
“The potential for artificial intelligence to radically transform the plant floor is far from being exhausted,” said Axel Lorenz, vice president of factory automation control at Siemens Digital Industries. “Many manufacturers are still stuck in AI pilot projects today; we want to change that.”

When asked to clarify if this agreement with Google affects any other cloud agreements Siemens has with other suppliers—such as their well-publicized agreement with SAP’s S/4 HANA Cloud for Siemens Mindsphere IoT platform—a Siemens spokesperson said, “We’re giving the customer the opportunity—and the interface too—to be able to have the flexibility to pick [the cloud provider they prefer]. We work with AWS and Alibaba, as well, so this is an extension of our cloud offerings to give customers the most flexibility.”

Addressing Google’s increased focus on industry, Alex West, senior principal analyst at Omdia, a research and consulting firm, said that “Google has been late to the manufacturing market, but with the comparatively recent announcement of Google Cloud for Manufacturing and [the company’s] significantly ramped up presence at Hannover Messe 2021 highlights its growing focus in making up ground on AWS and Azure on industrial opportunities.” Noting the high profile of cooperating with Siemens on this project, West said the partnership with Siemens will give Google access to “the broadest footprint of industrial devices, as Siemens currently accounts for about a third of all PLCs shipped globally.”

Key cloud services for manufacturers currently offered by Google include:
  • Anthos—an open hybrid, multi-cloud platform that enables consistency between on-premises and cloud environments, to accelerate application development.
  • BigQuery—a serverless, scalable cloud data warehouse for manufacturing data analytics.
  • AI visual inspection to decrease product return cost, reduce rework cost, and improve product yield with reduced human inspection hours.
  • Virtual machine (VM) migration for VM performance and cost optimization.