Volkswagen hooks up with AWS to float German carmaker's Industrial Cloud

Will track parts, vehicles and suck up data from the factory floor

Volkswagen has thrown its lot in with Amazon Web Services to float a cloud that will suck up data from the scandal-struck car maker's 122 manufacturing plants and systems to manage the effectiveness of assembly kit.

The thrust of the "multi-year" contract is to construct the Volkswagen Industrial Cloud (VIC), an open digital production platform to update manufacturing processes and logistics. Boosting efficiency, letting production flex better and upping vehicle quality are the ultimate aims.

"IT at the product level of machinery, equipment and systems – for example for production planning and inventory management – is to be standardised and networked across all 122 production plants," VW said.

"To date, there have been differences between the individual plants," it added.

The size of the deal was not disclosed but it seems relatively large in scope, drawing on a bunch of AWS services including IoT, machine learning, analytics and compute. VIC is expected to tie together 30,000 locations and 1,500 suppliers in the company's supply chain.

IoT services will "detect, collect, organise" plant floor data that will be analysed in a Data Lake allocated in Amazon's S3. And VW will use Amazon's SageMaker managed service to let developer and data docs scientists to build, train and unleash machine learning models to study the operation of machinery in all of the plants.

This, it is hoped, will identify and deal with "supply bottlenecks and process disruptions" at the earliest possible stage before they escalate.

AWS Outposts will use AWS services, infrastructure and operating models on-premises to address latency for sensitive apps.

Around 220 heads from both AWS and VW will work on the project in the medium term, the companies said. These people will be based at VW's IT competence centres. Some 140 projects are already set for integration.

The plan is for the Industrial Cloud and the first services to be in operation by the close of this year.

AWS has been hiring senior figures from the old tech world in the past year with the aim of using their nous in the enterprise space to snare more large corporate customers. It took on board HPE's former EMEA MD Andy Isherwood a little more than a year ago.

Earlier today, South African bank Standard Bank Group, one of the largest financiers on the African continent, announced it would migrate its production workloads, including customer-facing platforms and strategic core banking applications to AWS's platform. ®

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