Siemens and Microsoft Team Up with Open AI

July 20, 2023
By connecting Siemens Teamcenter PLM with Microsoft Teams and OpenAI’s ChatGPT, multiple new capabilities can be brought to industry, from helping frontline workers correct equipment issues to enabling designers to connect cost and sustainability targets.

It’s been less than a year now since large language model (LLM) artificial intelligence technologies like OpenAI’s ChatGPT became widely available. With all the hype surrounding these technologies, you’re probably already tired of hearing about them but it’s best to realize that things are just getting started with the testing of these LLMs in industry. This means you’ll be hearing a lot more about them in the coming months.

With so many companies and individuals testing the viability of LLMs in manufacturing, the good news is that we should move through the initial hype cycle surrounding LLMs in manufacturing relatively quickly. Of course, that means we’ll get to the “trough of disillusionment” in the near term and move into the “plateau of productivity” based on the proven capabilities of LLMs in manufacturing sooner rather than later. (If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology used here, they come from Gartner’s Hype Cycle, which is used to explain the adoption realities associated with new technology introductions—see accompanying image).

At the Siemens Realize Live 2023 event, Tony Hemmelgarn, president and CEO of Siemens Digital Industries Software, announced that Siemens is working with Microsoft on the incorporation of OpenAI’s ChatGPT via a linkage between Siemens Teamcenter PLM (product lifecycle management) software and Microsoft Teams. This linkage takes place through Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service. The companies expect to deliver this capability to the industrial market in late 2023.

Supporting quality, maintenance and sustainability

One of the drivers behind this integration, according to Hemmelgarn, is that “studies suggest more than 70% of quality issues go unreported” due to limited access to the right tools and difficulties doing this with paper-based processes. “We think AI (artificial intelligence) can help with this by connecting people to solve the issues,” he said.

To explain how this combination of Siemens, Microsoft and OpenAI technologies will work, Hemmelgarn offered an example of a robot in a factory that's consuming too much power. This problem is putting the sustainability goals of the company at risk and the operator who notices the problem wants to log the issue.

“All the operator has to do is speak into the app in any language, because the app will automatically translate it and bring it into OpenAI’s services that will allow us to capture the data,” said Hemmelgarn. “Then we can parse the data and put it into Teamcenter as an issue. So just by speaking into the app, we create an issue report, put the data in the right format, load it into Teamcenter and send a problem report to an automation engineer who then has immediate visibility into the issue.”

Once this report and connection has been established, AI continues collecting information about what's going on to bring in additional background and context.

Based on this input, AI can help solve the problem by, for example, automatically writing PLC code to make the change needed to correct the power problem. “Then, by leveraging the collaborative capabilities within Teams, we can roll this back into Teamcenter so that everyone has visibility into what's going on,” explained Hemmelgarn. “By working in Teams, manufacturing engineers not only receive a notification about what's going on but get direct access to the updated code. After reviewing the code, it can be brought to the edge device to get the robot running correctly.”

Other maintenance applications Siemens is exploring with Microsoft Teams and OpenAI involve the use of image association. Hemmelgarn said it’s not unusual for frontline workers to be required to perform a service operation on a component that they aren’t necessarily familiar with. In such cases, they can take a picture of the part and AI will help associate it with the relevant CAD data and drawings to help determine the issue and deliver a response to the worker.

Hemmelgarn added that part and product designers will also be able to use the integrated Siemens, Microsoft and OpenAI technologies to set targets and measure their work against those targets. For example, a designer can look at the component or assembly level of a part and connect them with a company’s sustainability metrics to see if they’re hitting the required goals at the time of design. With this ability, Hemmelgarn said designers can “think differently and work differently” because the technology is not a bolt-on application, but integrated into the Teams and Teamcenter environment they’re already working in. “They can see the bills of material and they’ll have the CO2 attributes and associated cost roll ups to start doing trade-offs between costs and CO2 reduction,” he said. “It gives them a holistic view of what's going on in sustainability.”

About the Author

David Greenfield, editor in chief | Editor in Chief

David Greenfield joined Automation World in June 2011. Bringing a wealth of industry knowledge and media experience to his position, David’s contributions can be found in AW’s print and online editions and custom projects. Earlier in his career, David was Editorial Director of Design News at UBM Electronics, and prior to joining UBM, he was Editorial Director of Control Engineering at Reed Business Information, where he also worked on Manufacturing Business Technology as Publisher. 

Sponsored Recommendations

Measurement instrumentation for improving hydrogen storage and transport

Hydrogen provides a decarbonization opportunity. Learn more about maximizing the potential of hydrogen.

Learn About: Micro Motion™ 4700 Config I/O Coriolis Transmitter

An Advanced Transmitter that Expands Connectivity

Learn about: Micro Motion G-Series Coriolis Flow and Density Meters

The Micro Motion G-Series is designed to help you access the benefits of Coriolis technology even when available space is limited.

Micro Motion 4700 Coriolis Configurable Inputs and Outputs Transmitter

The Micro Motion 4700 Coriolis Transmitter offers a compact C1D1 (Zone 1) housing. Bluetooth and Smart Meter Verification are available.