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Smart Automation is online. Nine providers of 10 open, Linux-based app platforms in industrial automation are available here for the first time with brief information at the click of a mouse. They are also directly compared with each other in key aspects on a detailed page. And from now on, the providers can also highlight the special features of their respective platforms on company-specific subpages as required.
It was worth taking a closer look at the new market of open platforms. A few platforms were added during the survey on their special features. In one case, a platform that had also been registered turned out to be unsuitable because it was not open and Linux-based, i.e. not comparable at all.

It was not clear at the start of the project that there were already ten such platforms on the market.

Of course, it is not possible to present all the special features of the individual solutions on a website. Even at this early stage, the offerings are far too diverse and complex for that.

Two providers come from the sector of central corporate IT for industry: both Contact Software with Elements for IoT and Siemens with Industrial Operations X were previously better known for PLM and data management in engineering and other industrial processes. Their solutions are therefore particularly strong in terms of direct data consistency from the upper levels of the automation pyramid to the shop floor.

This is where the other seven providers are at home as well-known manufacturers of automation solutions, in Operation Technology (OT). Bosch Rexroth with ctrlX AUTOMATION, German Edge Cloud with ONCITE DPS, KEBA with Kemro X, Lenze with NUPANO, Phoenix Contact with PLCnext Technology, WAGO with WAGO ctrlX OS and WAGO OS, and Weidmüller with easyConnect.

They are now using apps to connect from the shop floor to the data of product, production and product usage that was not part of their area in the old separate world of IT and OT. But even among them, there are major differences.

WAGO, for example, is the only provider with two platforms. One is WAGO ctrlX OS for the 750 Series hardware, for which WAGO was the first partner to rely on the Bosch Rexroth platform. And secondly, with the in-house development WAGO OS, which is open for third-party hardware and can be supplemented by any apps from customers and partners.


The Openness of the Platforms

The first of the two tables on the Smart Automation details page shows some special features in the basic architecture of the platforms. For example, whether they also provide their own runtime environment for additional apps. Or whether they support the development of apps with their own development environment.

The second table provides information on the application areas for which the platforms are designed, i.e. for which applications they offer apps or promote their development.


The Application Areas of the Platforms

What is already striking in this brief overview is that six of the solutions shown have a green tick for what previously only worked in industry with large monolithic manufacturing execution systems (MES), i.e. production control.

Without exception, all of them offer condition monitoring, which is of course the prerequisite for numerous possible services that product manufacturers can offer their customers for products. And none of the platforms have a red cross for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) either.

However, many features and special characteristics require a more intensive examination of the individual solution. Manufacturers are now being offered the opportunity to supplement this information with videos, white papers and background articles on their own subpages. Ideally, of course, with contact persons from both sales and development. And with direct links to the areas of their own online presence where you can find all the information from the source.

The start has been made. Now it remains to be seen how the new crowd of platform providers and the enormous group of potential customers in the discrete manufacturing industry will take it up and fill it with life.