Gaia-X to Harmonize Europe’s Manufacturing
Connecting plants across the board to manufacture with greater resilience – Nils Klute from EuroCloud reports on how Gaia-X can harmonize Europe’s manufacturing networks.
Gaia-X aims to be a distributed and networked data infrastructure based on European values and standards. An idea that remains abstract as long as concrete applications are missing. “Now, Gaia-X must be filled with life in a very practical and vivid way,” urged Dr. Margit Aufterbeck-Martin, Senior Consultant in Industry 4.0, at the 2021 virtual edition of the Hannover Trade Fair.
This is because the industry, in particular, is looking to what the Gaia-X AISBL, the European Association for Data and Cloud, is now driving forward. The association only started its work under Belgian law at the end of January 2021. It already has more than 200 official members. Manufacturing groups such as Airbus, Volkswagen, and ZF Friedrichshafen are among them. Companies for whom Gaia-X wants to be the one solution to exchange information in a secure, sovereign, and protected way, so that innovation can be encouraged and enabled and the digital single market can succeed.
Gaia-X creates the technological basis for data sovereignty
“Gaia-X combines existing cloud offerings and infrastructures,” explains Aufterbeck. Pierre Gronlier, Chief Technology Officer of Gaia-X AISBL, concurs: “This is how we create the technological basis for data sovereignty”. In concrete terms, what this is supposed to solve is that everyone who participates in the ecosystem should be able to control at any time what data they share with whom and how it can be used by third parties.
“For this to succeed,” according to Gronlier, “we need to be able to structure and verify all the information, for one thing. Secondly, we need to be able to link data to usage rights and rules.” After all, nothing less than Europe’s competitiveness is at stake. Because, “the more companies share information with each other, the more digital value creation and innovation can be created through Gaia-X,” Andreas Weiss, Head of Digital Business Models at the eco Association, is convinced.
Data access, platforms, and clouds: Gaia-X lets companies decide for themselves
Together with partners, the eco Association is currently creating the specifications for the Gaia-X Federation Services. “Gaia-X Federation Services regulate, on an open-source basis, how industrial companies can retain full sovereignty over their growing volumes of data at production sites,” Weiss explains. In practical terms, this means that companies share data while retaining full control over it, and decide which platforms and clouds they use to connect with throughout the value chain.
Gaia-X makes manufacturing faster, more resilient, and more productive
What are the advantages for the manufacturing industry to interlink information via Gaia-X? “Not only can we, for example, map logistics chains in real time to compensate for supply fluctuations,” says Keran Sivalingam, Project Lead Smart MA-X at technology initiative SmartFactory KL, “but manufacturing landscapes can also be harmonized across locations and companies throughout Europe.” Anyone who has to produce quickly and cost-effectively in standardized quality can exchange data in multi-layered manufacturing networks via Gaia-X. Facilities can be better utilized, production steps can be coordinated with the movement of goods, and inventories can be reduced. Companies increase their productivity and shorten lead times.
Gaia-X lets actors react flexibly and agilely
The more data that flows through it, the more resilient and robust the system becomes. “Gaia-X provides the information for this in real time via the cloud,” explains Olga Mordvinova, Founder and CEO of incontext.technology. “With a digital twin, this data can then be visualized, analyzed, and simulated synchronously to manage, pre-plan, and secure manufacturing processes with the help of artificial intelligence.” Whether it’s slow deliveries, machine breakdowns, or global virus pandemics – even when unforeseen events throw the manufacturing networks out of sync, all the players in the Gaia-X ecosystem can react agilely and flexibly.
At the end of 2021, the Project Management Office of the eco Association will deliver the initial results on the Gaia-X Federation Services. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is funding the project to the tune of around 13.5 million Euro. And the Gaia-X AISBL has just published the Gaia-X Architecture Document, which describes all concepts required for the distributed and networked data infrastructure. The panel discussion from the Hanover Industrial Fair will be available on their website between 19 April and 11 June 2021. The wheels are turning to bring the Gaia-X vision into sharper focus and supply the concrete applications necessary for the European data infrastructure to take full flight.
Nils Klute is IT Editor and Project Manager Communication Cloud Services at EuroCloud Germany. He is responsible for content marketing activities on topics such as GAIA-X and AI, supports initiatives such as Service-Meister, EuroCloud Native or systems integrators on their cloud journey. Prior to his start at eco in 2018, Nils worked as a corporate journalist for IT corporations (like SAP, T-Systems, and QSC at Cologne-based communication agency Palmer Hargreaves) and previously held public relations positions at market and economic research institutions.