Windows devices drive productivity and innovation in industrial manufacturing


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This week, we are in Germany for Hannover Messe 2015, the world’s top industrial technology trade fair. Industrial manufacturing relies on cutting-edge technology and Windows plays an increasingly vital role in that future. From plant operations to sales and marketing to global corporate communications; Windows helps companies take advantage of mobility scenarios to maximize efficiencies and transform manufacturing. The result: breakthrough product innovations and advances in engineering, operations and new services.

We are on the verge of the fourth industrial revolution. Four years ago, Hannover Messe coined the term “Industry 4.0,” which truly captures the transformative potential of new technologies in old economic sectors. With the Internet of Things, Windows powered devices and services are revolutionizing the manufacturing environment. The diverse set of connected, highly capable devices enable businesses to manage their mobile workforces, foster real-time collaboration and harness the power of big data.

This week, Microsoft customers and partners are demonstrating the latest Windows devices, solutions and deployments at Hannover Messe. Here are just a few of the stories:

Transforming Business

Microsoft and Windows is driving business transformation within the manufacturing industry. Fujitsu, a major Information & Communications Technology company, is bringing together its Eco-Management Dashboard, IoT/M2M platform, Microsoft cloud services, and Windows tablets in a way that enables managers, engineers, and scientists to improve product quality, streamline systems, and enhance functionality while reducing costs. For example, Fujitsu converted a portion of clean room areas in its semiconductor manufacturing facility in Aizu Wakamatsu, Japan, to be able to grow lettuce that is both delicious and low in potassium so that it can be consumed by dialysis patients and people with chronic kidney disease. Using their Eco-management dashboard solution built on Microsoft platform, Fujitsu employees can track all of the data related to plant growth from their Windows tablets through the cloud. These solutions can also be used to help other agriculture and manufacturing companies transform their businesses through innovation.

Another example of a business that is transforming is The Toro Company, a leading worldwide provider of solutions for the outdoor environment, including turf, snow and ground-engaging equipment, plus irrigation and outdoor lighting solutions. They needed a more engaging sales presence at trade shows, events and other settings where their target customers gather. Toro collaborated with Microsoft to create a digital experience for prospective outdoor power equipment customers, including an Apportal with product- and event-related content, such as a NASCAR experience for a race in Talladega, Alabama. Toro was able to use Project Siena, a breakthrough tool that lets users create transformative business apps — no programming skills required — to produce an interactive digital product catalog in just two weeks, helping educate customers, generate leads, execute sweepstakes entries, increase sales, and build brand awareness.

Transforming the Factory Floor

Windows devices help factory workers realize the potential of the Internet of Things and are redefining how manufacturers can use intelligent systems and real-time collaboration. KUKA Robotics, a leading manufacturer of industrial robots and automation solutions is using the Microsoft IoT platform to create one of the world’s first showcases that blends IT with robotic technologies into a smart manufacturing solution with new capabilities.

KUKA is showcasing their Intelligent Industrial Work Assistant (LBR iiwa), a sensitive and safe lightweight robot together with Microsoft in a smart factory solution. Using precise movements and sensor technology, the robot is able to perceive its surroundings way around a complex task like performing the delicate action of threading a tube into a small hole in the back of a dishwasher. Through this demonstration, KUKA is highlighting how its LBR iiwa can collaborate with humans to jointly perform the task as peers working together without being controlled by a human or using a vision system. Movement data from the robot is streamed to the Azure cloud where workers can monitor progress and receive status reports from the factory floor. Errors in the supply chain are addressed in real time through Windows tablets, making the automated process faster and easier.

Transforming Collaboration

When you have to manage a large company, filled with disparate business groups and people working around the globe, you need a way to keep employees easily connected. Toyota is piloting Microsoft technology to help employees be more productive worldwide. They are evaluating how the use of Perceptive Pixel (PPI) devices in their conference rooms can help their employees work more efficiently by making it possible for markup and design reviews to happen between offices, across a country, or around the globe.

Transforming Field Service

Manufacturing companies also need to manage their workforce in various locations – whether it be in the corporate headquarters, in the factory, our out in the field – and need a powerful solution to help. SAP is enhancing its Enterprise Asset Management portfolio of apps that support mobile management of industrial assets, field service, inventory and warehouse, and more. The new version will be fully optimized for Windows 8.1 devices to support touch-enabled interaction and alternate input through the Open Scan Interface, to capture data from barcode scanners, GPS devices or cameras, making it easier for mobile employees to manage systems from a broader range of connected devices.

There’s virtually limitless potential for innovating process and product development in industrial manufacturing using Windows devices. One key scenario is in design review: Designers and engineers can use Windows tablets to share 3-D content with co-workers and external design or manufacturing partners on-site, speeding up feedback and revision. When the design process is complete, released content can be shared with procurement, quality and assembly, without the burden or inefficiency of printed copies. This digital workflow helps reduce errors that result from version mismatches or latency, in turn reducing time spent to issue corrections and finalize decisions.

The solutions and devices on display at Hannover Messe are the future of industrial manufacturing, a future in which mobile employees can drive innovation and efficiency while expanding profitability. We look forward to a productive week and the chance to share the transformative potential of Windows devices.

To find out how Microsoft’s customers and partners are taking advantage of the Internet of Things in industrial manufacturing, check out the Official Microsoft Blog.

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