Margo: The new open standard initiative for interoperability at the edge of industrial automation

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Today, industrial companies face unprecedented challenges. Manpower Group recently reported that 75% of companies in the industrial sector are currently experiencing a talent shortage. Supply chain problems, an increasingly competitive market landscape, rapidly changing customer demand, and the need to increase quality, productivity, and overall efficiency drive the need for new levels of data availability, analysis, and management. Then, there is also the harsh reality that industry represents a significant portion of global CO2 emissions, which creates an increased urgency when dealing with environmental issues.

Automation systems are critical to the performance and agility of today’s industrial companies.

They are the heart of operational technology and contain the data required to generate the insights necessary to balance process sustainability, efficiency, and profitability. However, most are currently closed and manufacturer-dependent, so when a customer chooses a hardware platform, it essentially locks them into a programming environment, making it very difficult and costly to use automation programs across different platforms. This, in turn, also makes it harder to implement the right types of intelligence across all architectures.

To be able to succeed in today’s ever-changing business environment, optimization is key, and improved data collection and management at the source – i.e., at the machine, line, and plant floor – is vital in ensuring this can be achieved to the highest level. This is where the power of new edge computing applications comes into play.

One agnostic, scalable, secure edge application ecosystem

At Schneider Electric, we believe that automation systems should support rather than constrain business growth objectives. Our customers should be free to choose the best available technology for their operation, allowing them to deploy the right mix of edge computing technologies based on their unique process needs.

We fully support a flexible, interoperable, hardware and software-agnostic edge architecture that enables wide-scale usage of data with edge computing and AI.

These principles are shaping our long-term industrial automation strategy, and that is why we’ve joined forces with our peers and the Linux Foundation to create the Margo initiative, which will help deliver this long-awaited edge interoperability.

Margo: the new open standard initiative for interoperability at the edge of industrial automation

The Margo initiative is leading the creation of new open standard for interoperability at the edge of industrial automation. Drawing the name from the Latin word for ‘edge’, Margo defines the mechanisms for interoperability between edge applications, edge devices, and edge orchestration software. The open standard promises to bring much-needed flexibility, simplicity, and scalability – breaking through barriers to innovation in complex, multi-vendor environments and accelerating digital transformation for organizations of all sizes.

Hosted by the Joint Development Foundation, a part of the Linux Foundation family, the initiative is already supported by some of the largest automation solution providers globally, including founding members ABB, B&R, Capgemini, Microsoft, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, AVEVA, and Siemens. The Margo group invites like-minded industry peers to collaborate and contribute to building a meaningful and effective interoperability standard that will help customers achieve their digital transformation goals with greater speed and efficiency.

Doing this aims to ensure that applications, devices, and orchestration software all work together, enabling industrial edge ecosystem providers to assist organizations in accelerating the building, operation, and scaling of complex automation solutions, all whilst using systems from different suppliers that seamlessly inter-operate with each other. 

The Margo initiative is committed to delivering this in a modern and agile way, facilitated by a practical reference implementation and secured by a comprehensive compliance testing toolkit.

It will drive growth and value by removing some of the current barriers to success so industrial companies can accelerate innovation, improve time to market, and optimize operational efficiencies of complex automation systems from multiple providers.

Businesses can build, operate, and scale the powerful edge applications and data management solutions they need to support their digital transformation initiatives with reduced cost, complexity, and overheads. By allowing systems from different providers to interoperate, this open standard will drive ecosystem success, while making it easier to achieve operational growth, time to market, and return on investment.

To summarize, the benefits the Margo standard aims to offer are:

  • Openness and Flexibility – users can choose the right solution to match business needs.
  • Simplification – reduce time to market, simplify continuous improvement & maintenance.
  • Innovation and Growth – agile systems to match the speed of today’s businesses.

Proudly supporting the move toward an open future for Industry

At Schneider Electric we’re hard at work charting the course to next-generation software-defined automation, making the journey from proprietary closed systems to truly open, flexible automation systems that make the customers’ needs the priority.

These principles are shaping our long-term industrial automation strategies, and our full commitment as one of the six founding members of the Margo initiative is a crucial step in delivering the long-awaited edge interoperability.

We believe the result will completely change the game in automation, allowing us all to move confidently past blocks that have become typical of today’s traditional, hardware-based, proprietary systems. Margo is one of the keys to allow us to open the door to future success by harnessing the power of the innovative, open, and collaborative digital systems and solutions that will surely define the Industries of the Future.

Want to find out more about Margo and the power of edge applications?

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