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Volkswagen puts bets on Amazon-built ‘industrial cloud’

Volkswagen AG is expanding its cloud-based software and data portal, intending to develop it into an industry-wide marketplace where business consumers can purchase and sell industrial applications, the automaker said on Thursday.

VW’s “industrial cloud” was designed in collaboration with Amazon Web Services and eventually will link over 120 Volkswagen factories across the world to the automaker’s 1,500 suppliers and their 30,000 plants.

The portal is supposed to become a place to exchange data and software to help speed up the digitalization of factory processes from stamping to painting to machinery maintenance, said Nihar Patel, VW’s executive vice president for strategic core projects.

VW has started the portal to the first group of supplier partners, led by Siemens AG. Those partners are expected to collaborate software applications to be shared with Volkswagen and among themselves, in what the automaker referred to as “an App Store approach.”

Among the initial wave of supplier partners include ABB, the Swiss industrial automation specialist, and Dürr, the German supplier of automated paint systems and plant engineering services.

AWS will help manage the portal and will offer a range of cloud-based support services, including data analytics and computing, said Dirk Didascalou, vice president of the Internet of Things at AWS.

Volkswagen, the world’s third-largest automaker by market capitalization behind Tesla Inc and Toyota Motor, has been working on the industrial cloud for some years with AWS, one of Amazon’s fastest-growing, highest-margin businesses and one that works mostly with corporate customers, from BMW AGand Toyota to Avis Budget Group and Formula One, to manage, analyze and in some cases monetize data.

Patel said the efforts of the automaker to speed up the ongoing digitalization of its factories have the support of the company’s powerful Works Council and its supervisory board.

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