STMicroelectronics will help Air Liquide to implement industrial internet of things (IIoT) solutions for operational activities such as asset tracking and management, predictive maintenance, and cybersecurity.

The two invoked “digital transformation,” a buzzword that encapsulates the implementation of technologies like the IoT to enable operational improvements in a wide variety of different processes. Industrial automation is one such outcome of digital transformation. The challenge for many organizations is in the practical knowledge of how to implement such systems.

Air Liquide has been supplying ST with industrial gases and materials for over 30 years; the company is one of ST’s top 10 suppliers. In this partnership, ST will develop the technology solution while Air Liquide effectively provides the testing ground within its global operations and network. Since Air Liquide is a very large industrial company, it provides an ideal environment to illustrate the needs of large industrial OEMs in all key areas of the supply chain.

The companies anticipate working together to identify cases where ST’s technologies would best fit industrial and logistics needs, and then prototype the selected digital solutions and test them in Air Liquide’s operating environments. ST will support Air Liquide with guidance and solutions while Air Liquide will work with ST in developing technologies and solutions for industrial applications.

An ST spokesperson told EE Times the long-standing collaboration means there’s a strong cultural fit between the two companies, different from the traditional customer/supplier relationship. Since ST has been pushing its industrial focus, the work with Air Liquide will also help technology development, product roadmaps and customer outreach to both mass market and OEMs.

The spokesperson added they had already demonstrated a first proof of concept at CES 2019 to selected customers and partners. He commented, “The overall goal is to have both ends of the value chain work together (chipmaker and IIoT OEM) to better understand the needs of each other. This is a very complex and layered supply chain, with direct customers (like the manufacturers of smart devices), the network operators, service enablers, system integrators, service providers and a very large range of traditional industrial OEMs as well as non-traditional potential customers who need the technologies but come from other non-industrial domains.”

Guy Salzgeber, executive vice-president and member of Air Liquide group’s executive committee supervising industrial activities in Europe, added that the additional cooperation with ST will enable further acceleration of its digital transformation while helping ST in better addressing technological needs of IIoT applications.

Air Liquide supplies gas, materials and equipment to ST’s manufacturing sites located in France, Italy, Malta, Morocco, the Philippines and Singapore. Joël Hartmann, executive vice president for digital & smart power technology and digital front-end manufacturing at STMicroelectronics, said, “Our goal is to support the digital transformation of Air Liquide, one of our major and strategic suppliers, by providing state of the art solutions leveraging our products and technologies portfolio to successfully accelerate their program in this domain.”