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This start was not to be expected: the day after the online launch with nine providers of open automation platforms, three further registrations were received. Now there are already 12 providers of currently 13 platforms represented on the new Smart Automation page. With a direct comparison of important features in tables on an overview page. Now it’s time to take a closer look at the individual platforms. I will be conducting interviews with the providers and publishing them in the coming weeks. Because the differences are considerable.

Three providers added at the first attempt: the current list of open, Linux-based smart automation platforms (Sendler image).

Two providers, Contact Software and Siemens, have their focus on enterprise IT and are approaching Linux-based automation from there.

Both began offering Linux-based, cloud-native app technology several years ago. At Contact Software, this has resulted in the comprehensive Elements for IoT platform. At Siemens, it is still unclear how the merging of OT and IT will be reflected in practice in the portfolio.

The majority of platforms come from established automation with PLCs and, until recently, proprietary programming for their own devices:

Bosch Rexroth, KEBA, Lenze, Phoenix Contact, TTTech Industrial Automation, WAGO, Weidmüller.

Offering software services in data-based business models and collaborating with competitors via open standards is still mostly uncharted territory here.

And some are still very young and little-known companies whose core business is the development and marketing of innovative software technology. All three were only founded in 2021.

FLECS Technologies also provides some of the platforms listed on the Smart Automation page with the Linux-based foundation under its own branding and/or the app store and monetization of the app business. German Edge Cloud (GEC) was founded by the Friedhelm Loh Group in 2021 as a merger of three start-ups and has implemented the ONCITE DPS technology platform for well-known customers such as Schuler in addition to its sister company Rittal. Hardware and software provider SALZ Automation owes its name to the hometown of one of the founders, Bad Salzuflen.

Lenze has issued the slogan of a Federation of Platforms. The solutions currently listed show just how sensible and obvious such overarching collaboration of platforms is. Not only are they all based on open, real-time-capable Linux. There are also a number of direct partnerships between them, which have a simple reason: With open technologies, providers can concentrate on their strengths and leave tasks to individual specialist providers that they can obviously solve best.

The openness of Smart Automation platforms

So there is a lot to do. Even for neutral observers such as those in the trade press or on my portal Industrie-Digitalisierung. After the initial reactions on the day Smart Automation went online, I expect that there will be other platforms that are not yet known to the market.

Working out the special features of the individual solutions will be a task that cannot be accomplished on a single website or in a few articles. I expect that a number of the listed manufacturers will contribute to keeping the overview and direct link between the market and providers up to date by having their own sub-page.

Smart Automation now plays a special role on this news portal. In addition to the new main menu item, it leads to direct access on the homepage. And as soon as videos, white papers and background information can be accessed via subpages, these offers will also be made prominently available.

Smart automation will assign a new role to German-speaking countries as an industrial location. In my opinion, the open, Linux-based app platforms are currently several years ahead of the international competition. In the cloud- and AI-enthusiastic USA, where manufacturing has been neglected for decades, they are very well received. In China, they could strengthen interest in partnership-based cooperation, as the manufacturing industry plays a central role in China’s path to becoming a world leader in digitalization.

All information relating to research and development in this field, all news from manufacturers and users of corresponding platforms are very welcome on Industrie- Digitalisierung.