Manufacturing and the Internet of things (IoT) go hand-in-hand. At the Hannover Messe industrial technology conference in Germany this week, Microsoft and select partner companies are demonstrating how Windows 10 can help enable intelligent, IoT-enabled business processes for factories, equipment makers and suppliers.
Complementing the company's new cloud-based Azure IoT device management capabilities and the Azure IoT Gateway SDK (software development kit), also announced this week, Microsoft enlisted some technology partners, including Dell, to introduce Windows-based devices for connected enterprises. Dell's contribution is the new Dell Edge Gateway 5100 running Windows 10 IoT Enterprise.
Billed as Dell's "most industrial IoT device," the hardware provides built-in data capture and edge analytics capabilities in an enclosure that can take the punishment doled out by factory floors and other demanding environments.
"It is a rugged device built for industrial environments including support for extended temperature ranges," blogged Craig Dewar, senior director of Microsoft Windows Commercial marketing. "Dell also launched five new accessories for the Edge Gateways, including I/O and power modules, ZigBee module, CAN bus card, and IP65 rugged enclosure."
Powered by a dual-core Intel Atom processor, the 5100 features a fanless, solid-state design that can withstand temperatures as high as 70°C (158°F) or as low as -30°C (-22°F). An optional enclosure provides added protection against oil, dust and other contaminants.
Next year, Liebherr Group plans to launch a pharmaceutical refrigerator that will use Windows IoT and Azure Stream Analytics, Microsoft's cloud-based real-time IoT data analytics platform, to help hospitals store drugs and medical supplies at the proper temperature. Windows 10 IoT will allow Liebherr Group to support, secure and update the cooling unit, Dewar said.
During Hannover Messe, Microsoft also announced support for the OPC Unified Architecture (UA) open-source software stack used by industrial manufacturing equipment makers. This will make it possible for OPC UA devices to send telemetry data to Azure and allow Microsoft's cloud customers to control their equipment remotely.
"OPC UA is the single, neutral, widely accepted standard to embrace the complex world of automation devices to easily and securely connect them everywhere," commented Stefan Hoppe, vice president of the OPC Foundation, in a statement. "With the adoption by Microsoft to its Windows 10 operating system and Azure cloud, the OPC UA standard passes the critical milestone of general acceptance by the broader IT world."
Meanwhile, one of Microsoft's first-ever laptops, the Windows 10-powered Surface Book, has won the approval of the industrial design software specialists at Siemens. Featuring a detachable keyboard and discrete graphics processing capabilities in higher-spec models, the Surface Book, which was first introduced in October 2015, has been certified for the Solid Edge computer-aided design (CAD) software by Siemens.
Rivaling Apple's MacBook Pro, the Surface Book straddles the premium laptop and 2-in-1 device markets. Like the company's successful line of Surface Pro tablets, the Surface Book supports both touch and stylus-based input. According to Siemens, Solid Edge's user base is flocking to the hybrid laptop, making it the software's fastest-growing mobile platform in terms of adoption.