Mechanical and plant engineering is an important industry, many well-paid jobs depend on it in Europe. To be competitive in the long term, it needs knowledge of production processes, physics and digital tools for new business models. European machines sell all over the world. However, margins are low and often one-off. Mechanical engineering needs new, recurring revenue streams (software licenses), new differentiators. With Nupano from Lenze, machine builders get connected to the rapid development in the IT industry and use modern technologies in their domain – even without programming knowledge. This gives machine builders a competitive advantage over companies from other regions of the world and enables them to develop new customers and markets.
Nupano from Lenze is the bridge between the IT and OT worlds. The open platform focuses on applications (apps) with which machine builders can differentiate themselves in the market, not purely on commodity apps. The demand for digital products is definitely there. The automation specialist will be showing how machine builders can open up new opportunities in the digital age thanks to the use of tried-and-tested IT technology, without specific software and programming knowledge from April 17-21 at Hannover Fair 2023 in Hall 7, Stand D28.
Jumping over innovation hurdles
Friedhelm Drünker is head of development at a med-sized mechanical engineering company. He has just advertised three development positions. Number of applications? One. Too few for the tasks that await him and his team. They want to offer their customers service applications for their machines in order to differentiate themselves from the competition and, in particular, to contribute to sustainability. Drünker is thinking specifically about an AI-based app, to optimize the energy efficiency of his machines. At the same time, he is at a loss as to how he can equip a series machine with a variety of apps while ensuring that he only combines compatible versions.
The development manager is certain that his mechanical engineering company will disappear from the market if he does not differentiate himself on the market through software services. Drünker informs himself: “The majority answer in the automation industry to generating new revenue streams in the face of an intensifying shortage of skilled workers is called platform. Supposedly open platforms, marketplaces and ecosystems are emerging among many providers. There is a colorful confusion of definitions. What all “platforms” on the market have in common is that they do not solve Drünker’s problem. Because these platforms do not allow him to integrate his own additional services into the machine that differentiate him from the competition.
Then Drünker discovers the open automation platform Nupano. It enables him to bring innovation to the machine and tap the potential of digitization at the machine level. Even a team without IT knowledge can now equip a machine over its entire lifecycle, with digital services from a client-specific apps store. The platform takes over the management of any number of apps, including their versions, on a growing installed base.
Nupano solves Drünker’s problem, which is representative of the mechanical and plant engineering industry here. Lenze has jumped three innovation hurdles: An innovative method for integrating IT into a machine (OT), a new method for managing software in mechanical engineering, and a novel secure pairing method.
Unlike other platforms that offer only commodity apps, Nupano allows Drünker to easily integrate and manage its own software innovations in its machines. Nupano is based on open IT standards, and development was based on “security by design” from the very beginning. This allows Drünker not only to work with any IT company, but to develop innovative, digital applications for his machines completely independent of platform and hardware. That’s because companies that commit to a platform don’t want a vendor lock-in. To protect the know-how, the source code of the apps managed in Nupano always remains within the company. This allows Drünker to stand out safely in the market. There is no obligation to make apps public, but Drünker can still access public apps through its growing partner network.
LifeCycle Management of the application
The IT department/partner develops an application commissioned by Drünker. The software is handed over to the OT manager via Nupano using a standard Docker container. The latter tests the app in the digital twin of a test machine and adds more detailed descriptions to the app. The app is then made available to the organization and can be used on any number of machines. To do this, the employee creates a digital twin for a machine in the open automation platform and sends the applications to the machine. He does not need any IT knowledge to do this. Technically, this means that the Nupano runtime on the industrial PC communicates with the controller via IT standards (TCP/IP, REST, OPC UA, etc.).
Drünker retains control and an overview of the future numerous applications and their versions on any number of machines with the help of Nupano LifeCycle Management — a novelty on the market. Drünker’s colleagues can then further individualize the applications on a machine in Nupano — without programming (no code).
Thanks to Nupano, development managers like Drünker and his colleagues can offer new, digital products, increase the efficiency and sustainability of their machines, and generate more recurring revenue with customers.
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