Siemens and Rockwell partner Microsoft on GenAI

  • October 31, 2023
  • William Payne
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Siemens AG CEO Roland Busch

Microsoft is working with Siemens and Rockwell Automation to integrate Generative AI into their industrial systems and technologies.

Siemens and Microsoft have jointly developed Siemens Industrial Copilot, an AI-powered assistant aimed at improving human-machine collaboration in manufacturing. Integration between Siemens Teamcenter software for product lifecycle management and Microsoft Teams is being described as paving the way to the industrial metaverse. It is designed to simplify virtual collaboration of design engineers, frontline workers, and other teams across business functions. 

Rockwell and Microsoft are working together to accelerate industrial automation development. The first outcome of this collaboration will add Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service into FactoryTalk Design Studio to allow Rockwell customers to accelerate development of industrial automation systems.

Siemens and Microsoft

Siemens Industrial Copilot will allow users to rapidly generate, optimise and debug complex automation code, and significantly shorten simulation times. This will reduce a task that previously took weeks to minutes. The copilot ingests automation and process simulation information from Siemens’ open digital business platform, Siemens Xcelerator, and enhances it with Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service. Customers maintain full control over their data, and it is not used to train underlying AI models.

Siemens Industrial Copilot promises to boost productivity and efficiency across the industrial lifecycle. Using natural language, maintenance staff can be assisted with detailed repair instructions and engineers with quick access to simulation tools. 

The two companies envision AI copilots assisting professionals in various industries, including manufacturing, infrastructure, transportation, and healthcare. Numerous copilots are already planned in the manufacturing sectors, such as automotive, consumer package goods and machine building.

Schaeffler AG, a leading automotive supplier, is among the first in the automotive industry to embrace generative AI in the engineering phase. This helps its engineers to generate reliable code for programming industrial automation systems such as robots. In addition, the company intends to incorporate the Siemens Industrial Copilot during their own operations, aiming to significantly reduce downtimes, and also for their clients at a later stage.

”With this joint pilot, we’re stepping into a new age of productivity and innovation. This Siemens Industrial Copilot will help our team work more efficiently, reduce repetitive tasks, and unleash creativity,” said Klaus Rosenfeld, CEO of Schaeffler Group.

“With this next generation of AI, we have a unique opportunity to accelerate innovation across the entire industrial sector,” said Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We’re building  on our longstanding collaboration with Siemens and bringing together AI advances across the Microsoft Cloud with Siemens’ industrial domain expertise to empower both frontline and knowledge workers with new, AI-powered tools, starting with Siemens Industrial Copilot.”

“Together with Microsoft, our shared vision is to empower customers with the adoption of generative AI,” said Roland Busch, CEO of Siemens AG. “This has the potential to revolutionise the way companies design, develop, manufacture, and operate. Making human-machine collaboration more widely available allows engineers to accelerate code development, increase innovation and tackle skilled labour shortages.”

Rockwell and Microsoft

Rockwell and Microsoft believe that using AI to enhance automation across various roles, from decision makers to control engineers and operators, is an area where they can come together to help customers streamline their processes and drive worker productivity.

Adding Azure OpenAI Service into Rockwell’s FactoryTalk Design Studio is aimed to help engineers generate code using natural language prompts, automating routine tasks and improving design efficiency. It should also allow engineers to accelerate development and mentor newcomers on a learning path more efficiently and assist in finding relevant help from vast collections of information to further educate developers. Rockwell and Microsoft see potential in extending this integrated technology to solve other challenges, including Quality Management and Improvement, Failure Mode Analysis, and training frontline workers to execute manufacturing processes through chat-based collaboration with experienced human workers as well as Azure Open AI Service-based chatbots.

“The skilled labour shortage and ensuing lost productivity is the biggest challenge facing industrial organisations and their service providers today. These shortages are increasing the need, value, and complexity of automation projects when the ecosystem of service providers is less equipped to deliver on time, quality, and budget,” said Matthew Littlefield, President LNS Research. “Generative AI has already proven its ability to capture the imagination and enhance the productivity of workers in a range of IT and business scenarios. Rockwell Automation and Microsoft’s strategic partnership is an exciting and high-potential step forward in addressing these long-term structural challenges.”

“Rockwell’s decade-long relationship with Microsoft illustrates our ongoing commitment to providing best-of-breed solutions that empower customers and support our shared vision of driving industries forward through innovation and collaboration,” said Blake Moret, Chairman and CEO of Rockwell Automation. “Together, we’re not just addressing current market needs; we’re shaping the future of technology in industrial automation.”

“The explosive growth and interest in artificial intelligence is driving organisations to partner with Microsoft as a trusted cloud and AI provider,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Microsoft. “I am pleased to further strengthen our longstanding relationship with Rockwell by combining its expertise in industrial automation with Microsoft’s generative AI technology to help industrial professionals expedite the creation of complex control systems, optimise the efficiency of their operations, and spur greater innovation across industrial organisations.”