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New M2M Cooperation for Industry 4.0

Siemens and Merck to Build Transparent Supply Chains

IIoT Sicherheit Industrie 4.0 Digitalisierung Fertigung Automatisierung
Merck and Siemens are cooperating to increase quality and reliability in communication between machines.
© Siemens / Merck

The partnership aims to open up new business models for machine builders through end-to-end data transparency in production. Traceable, digital value creation via smart contracts, blockchain and edge computing is to take place via secure machine-to-machine communication in real time.

A coup for Industry 4.0 and the value of production data: Merck and Siemens announced a development partnership for industrial digitalization today. The two major companies are going to cooperate in the field of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. The aim is to achieve the highest possible level of transparency and security of the digital data flow in industrial value chains; manufacturers are to benefit in particular in quality control.

Merck, which is known as a pharmaceutical giant, has already been positioning itself as a technology partner for some time, among others for the semiconductor industry, and is involved in the area of digitization and transparency of supply chains based on its own safety-critical manufacturing. The course will be stepped up under CEO Belén Garijo, who has been in office since May 2021.

»In our cooperation with Siemens, we see clear potential to fundamentally change quality control and assurance across a wide range of industries,« said Laura Matz, Merck's chief science and technology officer. »Through digital trust, certified cyber-physical machine-to-machine communication will not only improve quality, transparency as well as traceability of products along value chains, but also open up new business models.«

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The Traceable, Digital Manufacturing

Industrial companies, manufacturers and machine and plant builders can thus comply with stricter regulations in the value chain, such as sustainability and proof of origin, and consider new, data-based business models. The collaboration is aimed at manufacturers across all industries, with an initial focus on personalized medicine, food, automotive and high-tech electronics.

In the current IIoT context, machines still exchange too little data about the quality of products, according to the new partners. The envisioned solution is therefore to provide a framework for more efficient M2M communication.

The Dax companies want to make all product and component data securely available via a central, non-manipulable »single source of truth«. Smart contracts, tokens, blockchain and industrial edge computing firmly link physical objects with a digital identity and ensure the transparency and authenticity of information and machines. This facilitates proof of originality and helps protect against product counterfeiting. Manufacturers should thus also increase the efficiency of their production and at the same time ensure the sustainability and quality of their products. The first pilot projects of the Siemens-Merck cooperation are scheduled to start in 2022.

Siemens board member and CEO of Siemens Digital Industrie Cedrik Neike says: »Value chains and product life cycles must become more transparent and sustainable. To this end, we will work with Merck to develop a completely new digital solution that will enable machines to communicate with each other in a trustworthy manner and exchange production and laboratory data, for example.«

New, Digital Machine Billing and Business Models

To this end, Siemens plans to build an object-centric IIoT data ecosystem in which objects can exchange data in a trusted and secured environment. The partners also plan to combine Merck's Crypto Anchor technology portfolio with Siemens' Trusted Tracebility (an end-to-end system that can track the product family tree) and enable their seamless interaction using blockchain technology.

With traceability, transparency, security and a 360-degree view of the quality of industrially manufactured products, business models such as pay-per-part or pay-per-performance would be conceivable for machine builders to possible within their IIoT-networked production infrastructure.

In this way, a machine no longer has to be purchased; the machine builder can rent it out or invoice the customer per manufacturing process and intensity of use. This means that they no longer receive a large one-off amount when they sell the machine, but can generate long-term cash flows over the entire service life and machine life.

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