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Automation platform will generate new business for OEMs

20 October, 2022

Lenze has announced an open automation platform that, it says, will help machine-builders to develop new business models and offer new digital services, without needing to be IT experts. The German automation supplier says that the platform, called Nupano, will let machine-builders take advantage of the opportunities arising from the convergence of operational technology (OT) at the machine control level with IT, to tap into new sources of revenue.

According to Werner Paulin, Lenze’s head of new automation technology, many machinery manufacturers are not yet generating revenues from digital services. “Typically, they sell a machine and hope to see the customer again in 15 years. This revenue is brought in once and, in many cases, there is no recurring revenue.” Lenze hopes to change this with the new platform.

The company believes that success in machine-building will increasingly depend on an OEM’s ability to stand out from others by offering additional digital services. “Anyone who doesn’t do this, will lose growing streams of revenue to software companies, and gradually find themselves reduced to being a supplier of parts,” Paulin warns.

Although many machine-builders would like to have digital business models, they have been held them back to date by the need for IT skills. “They often have the right ideas,” says Paulin, “but there is a lack of know-how, of skilled personnel and, in some cases, a lack of technological understanding for new business models.”

The ability to use the Nupano platform without needing IT expertise is what sets it apart from other platforms on the market, he suggests.

The platform’s machine and app management system can contain both in-house applications and public software modules. But Paulin expects that most users will be attracted by the bespoke capabilities. “Our customers expect a platform to provide them with a competitive edge; they don’t want to download public commodity apps,” he explains. Although public apps will be available on Lenze’s platform, they will not be the main source of creating value for machine-builders.

Lenze believes that its new automation platform will generate new sources of revenue for OEM machine-builders

Companies that have already developed their own apps can upload them to the platform. Applications can be tested together on the platform, and a release workflow and a lifecycle strategy created for all of a user’s machines. Users can expand and update the applications, even if they have no specialist IT knowledge.

“We supply a lifecycle management system for all the apps and their versions, and we use open IT standards. That is a great advantage,” says Paulin.

Users of the platform will experience the applications and an overview of their machines as digital twins. Using drag-and-drop, they can merge the worlds of OT and IT. The applications are transferred via the digital twin to an industrial PC. From there, the applications are run by Nupano Runtime. “That is the point where Nupanao and PLC Runtime come together,” says Paulin.

The first customers are starting to adopt Nupano using their own existing applications or by having new ones developed for them. “The feedback from discussions with our customers is positive,” Paulin reports. “Many of them have been looking for a platform like this.”

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