Mercedes-Benz AG and Microsoft are to collaborate on a new cloud-based data platform that they claim will to make vehicle production more efficient, resilient and sustainable.
With the new MO360 Data Platform, Mercedes-Benz is connecting its around 30 passenger car plants worldwide to the Microsoft Cloud. It says this will enhance transparency and predictability across its digital production and supply chain.
The MO360 Data Platform is described as the evolution of Mercedes-Benz’ digital production ecosystem MO360 and allows teams to identify potential supply chain bottlenecks faster and enable a dynamic prioritization of production resources towards electric and Top-End vehicles.
This unified data platform is standardized on Microsoft Azure, providing Mercedes-Benz with flexibility and cloud computing power to run artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics at global scale while addressing cybersecurity and compliance standards across regions. The platform is already available to teams in EMEA and will be deployed in the United States and China.
Joerg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, responsible for Production & Supply Chain Management, said: “This new partnership between Microsoft and Mercedes-Benz will make our global production network more intelligent, sustainable and resilient in an era of geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges. The ability to predict and prevent problems in production and logistics will become a key competitive advantage as we go all electric.”
Judson Althoff, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Microsoft said: “Mercedes-Benz’ partnership with Microsoft is a testament to the power of the industrial metaverse. Together, we are merging the physical and digital worlds to accelerate value creation. Mercedes-Benz can simulate and refine manufacturing processes infinitely in the Microsoft Cloud before bringing them to the shop floor to enhance efficiency and minimize its environmental impact amid constant change and uncertainty.”
Jan Brecht, Chief Information Officer of Mercedes-Benz Group AG added: “With the MO360 Data Platform, we democratize technology and data in manufacturing. As we are moving towards a 100% digital enterprise, data is becoming everyone’s business at Mercedes-Benz. Our colleagues on the shop floor have access to production and management-related real-time data. They are able to work with drill-down dashboards and make data-based decisions.”
With the MO360 Data Platform, Mercedes can create a virtual replica of its vehicle manufacturing process, combining insights from assembly, production planning, shop floor logistics, supply chain and quality management. The virtual simulation and optimization of processes before running them on the shop floor, helps to accelerate operational efficiency and unlock energy savings. For example, managers can optimize operational patterns to reduce CO2-emissions in production.
Mercedes-Benz is also exploring the integration of the MO360 Data Platform with data sources from other departments to enable a digital feedback loop that will spur continuous learning and innovation across the group.
The recently opened Mercedes-Benz Digital Factory Campus Berlin is the home base for the MO360 Data Platform engineering teams and will become the MO360 training and qualification center for implementing digital approaches globally.
Increase supply chain resilience and efficiency
With the new centralized data platform, teams can instantly analyze and visualize production data, to faster optimize production processes and identify potential supply chain bottlenecks. This enables a dynamic allocation of operational resources within and across plants to prioritize the manufacturing of low-emission and Top-End Luxury vehicles.
The Mercedes-Benz Operations Logistics team will be able to solve supply chain bottlenecks much faster. They can compare the availability of components, including semiconductors, with production orders and position this data against production parameters including operational running plans. As a result, plant managers keep the production running and prioritize relevant vehicles even if supply chain challenges occur.
Mercedes says the MO360 Data Platform will make it easier to maintain production of both electric and combustion-engine vehicles on a single production line as the market demand gradually shifts towards an all-electric future. To tackle shortages in components and prevent delivery delays, the MO360 Data Platform will enable teams to explore a variety of production scenarios depending on the availability of components like semiconductors, based on real-time data about the quality of parts and equipment. This is expected to result in productivity gains of 20 percent in passenger car production by 2025 and help to avoid unplanned downtimes and schedule maintenance work in a timely and CO2-friendly fashion.
Reduce ecological footprint from water and energy use to waste management
As part of the MO360 Data Platform, Mercedes-Benz has implemented an analytics tool to monitor and reduce its ecological footprint during vehicle production, a crucial milestone towards the company’s Ambition 2039 to become carbon-neutral by 2039. With the data analytics tool, teams can track and forecast carbon emissions, energy and water usage as well as waste management and roll out best practices across the production network. Mercedes-Benz plans to cover more than 70 percent of its energy needs through renewable sources by 2030 by expanding solar and wind power at its own sites and through Power Purchase Agreements and plans to cut its use of water by 35 percent through the reuse of water in production.
‘Democratize data to enhance workforce productivity’
Mercedes-Benz production staff get access to the MO360 Data Platform via a self-service portal available on any company device including tablets, smartphones and laptops. Its visualization with Microsoft Power BI provides a what-you-see-is-what-you-get experience, allowing employees to become data workers with the ability to model and correlate data. The Teams Walkie Talkie app provides workers with an instant push-to-talk (PTT) communication on their business phones – no extra device needed.
With the MO360 Data Platform, teams at Factory 56 have shortened their daily shop floor meeting by 30 percent. In addition, they identify priority tasks to optimize production workflows within two minutes, which took up to four hours prior to the introduction of the platform. From team leads and process engineers to shop and plant managers, employees are encouraged to contribute new use cases to drive process innovation with Microsoft Power Platform.
Working with a global community of internal and external developers, Mercedes-Benz’ production process software engineers use free and open source software (FOSS) including GitHub to improve the quality of the software and the speed of delivery. They benefit from Azure Data Lake, Azure Databricks and Azure Purview to process and govern huge amounts of data and run AI and analytics using their preferred development frameworks. For software deployment and operations, they work with Azure DevOps.