Mercedes-Benz and Microsoft recently announced a partnership to make vehicle production more efficient, resilient and sustainable through the new MO360 data platform. This unified data platform, standardized on Microsoft Azure, provides Mercedes-Benz with the flexibility and cloud power to run AI and analytics on a global scale while meeting cybersecurity and compliance standards across regions. It is already available to teams in Europe, Africa and the Middle East and will later be rolled out to the U.S. and China.
The MO360 data platform is the evolution of the Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations 360 (MO360) digital production ecosystem, enabling teams to more quickly identify potential supply chain bottlenecks. They can compare the availability of components, including semiconductors, with manufacturing orders and position this data against production parameters, including operational execution plans, enabling plant managers to keep production running and prioritize relevant vehicles.
Joerg Burzer, Mercedes-Benz Group AG board member, Production & Supply Chain Management, said:
“This new partnership between Microsoft and Mercedes-Benz will make our global production network smarter, sustainable and resilient in an era of geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges. The ability to predict and prevent production and logistics issues will become a key competitive advantage as we move to all-electric.”
AI, digital twin and data analytics
The MO360 data platform will enable Mercedes-Benz to create a virtual replica of its vehicle manufacturing process, combining information from assembly, production planning, shop floor logistics, supply chain and quality management. Virtual simulation and optimization of processes before they are executed on the factory floor can accelerate operational efficiency and save energy. Operational models can be optimized to reduce CO2 emissions in production.
The automaker is also exploring the integration of the platform with data sources from other departments to enable a digital feedback loop that will drive continuous learning and innovation across the group.
The Mercedes-Benz Digital Factory Campus Berlin, officially launched on September 23, is the base for the engineering teams of the MO360 data platform and will become the MO360 training and qualification center for implementing digital approaches globally.
Judson Althoff, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of 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 endlessly in the Microsoft cloud before bringing them to the shop floor to improve efficiency and minimize its environmental impact in an environment of constant change and uncertainty.”
Democratizing data to improve team productivity
Mercedes-Benz production personnel have access to the MO360 platform via a self-service portal available on any device in the company: tablet, smartphone or laptop. Microsoft Power BI allows them to visualize data for modeling or correlation.
Factory 56 is a fully digitized production facility that opened in September 2020 at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen, Germany, it is already enabled by the MO360 data-driven AI platform. Teams have reduced their daily shop floor meetings by 30 percent, identifying priority tasks to optimize production flows in two minutes, which could take them up to four hours before the platform was introduced.
Jan Brecht, head of information systems at Mercedes-Benz Group AG, explains:
“With the MO360 data platform, we are democratizing technology and data in manufacturing. As we move toward a 100% digital enterprise, data is becoming everyone’s business at Mercedes-Benz. Our colleagues on the shop floor have access to real-time data related to production and management. They are able to work with detailed dashboards and make data-driven decisions.”
Mercedes-Benz process software engineers had previously published their MO360 Frontend toolkit on Github and will continue to collaborate openly. They use free and open source software (FOSS), including GitHub, to improve software quality and 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 infrastructures. For software deployment and operations, they work with Azure DevOps.