Leonardo and Microsoft will collaborate on an Industry 4.0 solution to provide the manufacturing sector with a new tool to enable the complete and integrated control of all the processes and assets of a production plant.

The ‘Secure Connected Factory’ solution, developed by Leonardo, leveraging its own security by design approaches and on Microsoft technology, in particular on advanced business and mixed reality components, enables businesses to increase the efficiency of  their production processes and reduce the time and cost of development.

The Secure Connected Factory provides real-time strategic information based on data collected from installations and comprehensive control of assets and industrial processes to support decision makers, supervisors and managers using complete digital transformation logic. In addition, it allows any type of machine, automation system, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) or sensors of the world's leading manufacturers to connect to Microsoft's cloud ‘Azure’, thanks to the technology provided by the Microsoft partner ecosystem.

Using predictive maintenance features, it is also possible to reduce unscheduled machine shutdowns, while further minimizing lost time by using real-time scheduling and tracking tools to plan the deployment of technical teams. Also, through the Microsoft Power BI Business Intelligence component, the data can be viewed interactively by monitoring and analyzing the orders and the wear of the mechanical parts.

Secure Connected Factory uses Microsoft machine-learning and artificial intelligence mechanisms through which machines can communicate with operators in natural-language. Additionally, the solution leverages Microsoft's mixed reality technology ‘HoloLens’: machine tools can transmit telemetry information to operators through holograms.

"By combining our expertise in Information Technology and Digital Security with the expertise of our industry partners and leveraging on Microsoft's technology for predictive monitoring and analysis, Leonardo has developed a solution that enables more efficient management of all major manufacturing companies. Innovation has always been part of our DNA and, thanks to this collaboration, we have been able to bring together in one project the opportunities of transformation offered by the new technology trends of Industry 4.0, from the Internet of Things to mixed reality," commented Andrea Campora, Manager of Leonardo's Cyber Security & ICT Solutions Line of Business.

"We are proud to collaborate with Leonardo in developing an innovative solution that we are sure will contribute to the digital transformation of the production sector in a genuine Industry 4.0 perspective. Secure Connected Factory combines cloud computing, the Internet of Things, business intelligence, machine learning, artificial intelligence and mixed reality to enable the most advanced remote monitoring and predictive maintenance systems and to enhance heterogeneous industrial data by translating them into strategic information. Thanks to the new technologies, it is possible to infuse intelligence into processes and to optimize not only the performance but also the safety of production facilities and factories," said Vincenzo Esposito, Director of Enterprise Business Division of Microsoft Italia.

"This project attests to Microsoft's commitment to promoting digital transformation in Industry 4.0 logic, accompanying Italian companies to the creation of new intelligence ecosystems. IDC estimates that the intelligent factory is already a reality and by 2022, 40 per cent of the operating processes will be able to 'self-learn' and 'self-repair'. Pointing to technological innovation, synergies with our partner ecosystem and cooperation with leading Italian companies like Leonardo, we are helping our operators and companies to seize the tremendous opportunities that come from Industry 4.0 and rethink their business in a way more efficient, sustainable and secure."