The sensor and automation specialist ifm and the IIoT expert CloudRail have announced a strategic partnership today. The companies will pool their skills to improve their positions on the strongly growing market for professional IIoT and cloud solutions.
Industry 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or digitisation — there are many terms to describe the inexorable trend of networking machines, processes and people. What they all have in common is that they refer to interdisciplinary processes."The IIoT has long ago ceased to be an exclusive topic of operation technology (OT)," says Felix Kollmar, CEO of CloudRail GmbH. For some time now, classic players from IT can be seen to position themselves in this market. Examples include cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, but also big consulting firms and IT system integrators. "The challenges of digitisation are simply too big for individual companies. They require close cooperation between OT and IT," explains Kollmar.
CloudRail was founded in 2017 and aims at bridging the gap between the OT and IT worlds. CloudRail solutions make it possible to collect data from industrial applications and provide them on different cloud platforms. Thanks to the plug & play functionality, this can be done very easily and at low cost. The start-up, headquartered in Mannheim, collaborates with leading companies from automation, global system integrators as well as important cloud providers and is supported by renowned investors.
The partnership between ifm and CloudRail is a good example of this.
While ifm can look back at more than 50 years of experience in industrial automation/OT, the start-up company CloudRail's speciality is bridging the gap towards the IT world and thoroughly understanding the corresponding target group. ifm already have several cloud solutions in their portfolio, however, these have primarily been developed for the OT target group. With their CloudRail.Box and the corresponding Device Management Cloud, CloudRail on the other hand have a product bridging the gap between OT and IT.
Just like ifm products, the CloudRail.Box combines professional industrial sensors and communication technology, but it also manages to transfer data very quickly and easily to classic IT platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure or Alibaba. This provides IT specialists such as data scientists, software developers and IT consultants with valuable data from the shop floor. The CloudRail solution makes it possible to implement simple IIoT installations within a few hours — without special OT knowledge. Thanks to the plug & play functionality, set-up could not be easier: Simply connect the sensor, select the required cloud and the data will be processed and transferred to the cloud.
Despite its simplicity, the CloudRail.Box features important functions which make it possible to remotely monitor and configure devices and supply them with important updates. Besides, the CloudRail.Box supports several edge computing versions as well as OPC UA.
Its good manageability, comprehensive safety concept and scalability make it the perfect choice also for big installations or OEMs.
Cloud services supported by CloudRail:
However, what matters most for ifm is the focus on the IT target group.
"With their innovative product and strong partner network, CloudRail offer us market access to big digitisation projects. Until now, our salesforce has been explaining the advantages of clouds to automation specialists, now we cooperate with leading cloud providers and worldwide acting consulting companies in interdisciplinary projects and contribute our sensor expertise. This is a new and very promising access into the IIoT market and a perfect supplement to our existing portfolio," says Michael Strauss, Head of Product Management Industrial Communication at ifm. "CloudRail is one of few companies worldwide with extensive expertise both in IT and OT. This partnership, combined with ifm's know-how and reach, sends a strong signal to the market and makes us a market leader in IIoT as well," explains Strauss.
As of now, the CloudRail solution is available worldwide via ifm.
Besides, the company offers several starter kits containing all components required to implement a first IIoT project. One of these kits contains e.g. the new VVB001 vibration sensor from ifm. Within a few minutes, the vibration of a machine can be detected and evaluated in any cloud.