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ABI Research Ranks Smart Manufacturing Platforms

ABI Research, a market advisory firm that offers strategic guidance on new technologies has released rankings for various technologies. Ranked as the top smart manufacturing platform, PTC ThingWorx received top scores in augmented reality (AR)/mixed reality (MR) and overall innovation.

PTC, SAP, Schneider Electric and Siemens tied for the highest score in digital twins, and PTC, GE and Telit tied for highest in protocol adaptability and connectivity, PTC focuses on AR with Vuforia, protocol adaptability and connectivity with Kepware, and digital twins with its combination of technologies on ThingWorx. Recently, in June 2018, Rockwell Automation announced a US$1 billion equity investment and strategic partnership with PTC.

The “Smart Manufacturing Platform Ranking” competitive assessment ranked 11 major vendors in the sector: ABB Ability, Bosch IoT Suite, Emerson Plantweb, Fujitsu Colmina, GE Predix, Hitachi Lumada, PTC ThingWorx, SAP Leonardo, Schneider Electric EcoStruxure, Siemens Mindsphere and Telit deviceWISE, based on ABI Research’s proven innovation/implementation criteria framework. Each platform was analyzed according to its innovation, out-of-the-box thinking and plans to deploy and support transformative technologies such as augmented reality/mixed reality, digital twins, edge intelligence, protocol adaptability & connectivity, robotics integration and other transformative technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. In terms of implementation, ABI Research assessed the platforms on their progress to date in establishing partnerships, connecting assets, integrating with enterprise and cloud systems, regional coverage and security as well as their upfront costs and current business model.

“PTC emerged as the leader, excelling with its innovative initiatives across transformative technologies, and GE Predix came in second,” says Pierce Owen, principal analyst of Smart Manufacturing at ABI Research. “GE has ridden a roller-coaster of expectations and disappointment over the last few years, especially with GE Digital, its software subsidiary. GE Digital led the way out of the gate in this fourth industrial revolution, launching Predix back in 2013 and making grandiose promises about improving asset utilization and operations optimization. It largely failed to deliver on those promises with a quite slow rollout, but since then, it has built up its technological capabilities and partnerships and now offers a legitimate platform with many solutions.”

ABB’s third-place ranking came about largely due to its business model. ABB differentiates ability by not charging for the platform as a separate item. Despite its relatively high score in innovation, ABB provides the platform for free to its customers, instead charging for apps and solutions, which still often come for free during the warranty period for ABB equipment. The high score for this business model has helped contribute to a top ranking in implementation, tied with GE.

Siemens Mindsphere ranked fourth. “Siemens had developed quite advanced capabilities around the Mindsphere platform, but up until now, it has struggled to connect devices and equipment from other manufacturers without OPC UA. To their credit though, they have taken steps that could lead to a jump to the top spot within a year,” Owens points out.

Siemens has partnered with Telit deviceWISE, which ranked sixth in ABI Research’s assessment, for data extraction and edge intelligence and has announced general availability on Microsoft Azure coming in Q4 of 2018. At this point, the platform providers appear to have found a balance between competing for market share and implementing these open best practices to drive innovation. This does not mean that all these platforms will survive, but it will ultimately benefit the customers by making it easier to deploy the best solutions,” concluded Owen.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Smart Manufacturing Platforms report. This report is part of the company’s Smart Manufacturing research service.

For more info, visit ABI Research.

Sources: Press materials received from the company.

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