Hexagon partners with Microsoft to redefine manufacturing with cloud technology

23 April 2024

four person engineering review of nexus copilot showing interface
  • Hexagon has contributed significantly to the open-source Fluid Framework data architecture that connects any manufacturing system and will integrate with Microsoft 365 creating agile, simplified workflows and productive collaboration using engineering and productivity software
  • Hexagon will roll-out applications that integrate the Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service to empower experienced employees to be more productive and assist less skilled users
  • These innovations form a significant foundation for new real-time co-engineering applications that combine Hexagon’s digital twin technologies with Microsoft Azure

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division today announces its strategic partnership with Microsoft, which aims to redefine how engineers collaborate and enable the discrete manufacturing industry to innovate faster, with more confidence, and with new solutions that combine data from virtual engineering processes with real-world measurement of manufactured products. The collaboration will offer solutions that use modern cloud infrastructure to connect manufacturing and engineering systems – including Microsoft 365 – in Hexagon’s Nexus digital reality platform for manufacturers, and help employees increase their productivity through cloud-accelerated simulation and AI.  

The partnership aims to transform collaboration across the manufacturing value chain and apply digital twins to accelerate product innovation.


Transforming how manufacturers collaborate

Hexagon and Microsoft have partnered closely on the development and scaling of the open-source Fluid Framework and Azure Fluid Relay service to support the real-time sharing of data across a wide range of manufacturing industry processes and systems, allowing data created in one system to be immediately available to any other person or machine operating in another. Under the new partnership, the Microsoft 365 ecosystem will plug into this data layer, enabling customers to connect their day-to-day office documents and processes with manufacturing tools. This gives teams the freedom to innovate with the tools they already use; for example, tooling cost data from a Microsoft Excel worksheet could be easily shared with a CAM programmer, so simplifying work practices and decision-making between roles. 

Microsoft Teams calls can become interactive working sessions, with CAD, simulations or metrology point clouds seamlessly visualised from the source data to allow on-the-spot collaboration and fast, iterative teamwork across disparate engineering and manufacturing functions. Hexagon has already demonstrated this capability in its 3D Whiteboard Nexus tool, which is also now available as an native app in Teams.


Accelerating innovation through AI and high-performance computing 

Hexagon is working with Microsoft to integrate generative AI models into its manufacturing software, helping users to make better use of their capabilities and analysing existing datasets to learn and suggest the best practices for achieving desired outputs. These AI experiences include contextual advisors, offering expert users productivity-boosting automation while also helping new users to upskill faster and achieve good results with less supervision – a valuable tool as the industry faces a growing skills shortage in many essential roles.

The partnership will apply Hexagon’s manufacturing, engineering and data science domain expertise and Microsoft Azure’s elastic computing and high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure to accelerate engineering simulations by up to three orders of magnitude, making it possible to streamline design & engineering workflows to deliver innovative products to market at greater speed. Hexagon’s machine learning technology optimizes heavy-load simulations, allowing them to run much more efficiently. Azure customers will be able to use their existing contracts to access this machine learning-accelerated compute service through Nexus – allowing teams to use the IT they already have in place.

Combining Hexagon’s measurement and reality capture technology and Nexus open-access platform with Microsoft’s cloud ecosystem creates the foundation for agile and collaborative engineering applications and industrial metaverse use cases. A digital twin utilising Azure compute for simulations can now draw Hexagon’s real-world, real-time data capture and present information to users without complex systems integration. By implementing these technologies, manufacturers can create new workflows across the product lifecycle that shorten time to market, improve factory-floor efficiencies, identify manufacturing problems in real-time and improve quality.

Stephen Graham, EVP and General Manager Nexus at Hexagon said: “At Hexagon, we’re on a mission to empower the workforce by presenting them with the best available information as soon as possible and helping them to close the gap between their optimal-performance virtual designs and the physical products that they manufacture. We have achieved a huge amount with Microsoft in a few short months by collaborating closely and applying their best cloud technologies to unlock new ways of collaborating and sharing data.

Our strategic partnership takes this to the next level, driving a shared vison and go-to-market to help our customers connect their Hexagon tools and products with third-party engineering systems and Microsoft 365. This allows for completely new workflows to be built, increasing the visibility of data, enabling sustainable innovation and increasing productivity from design & engineering to end-of-life management.”

Aleš Holeček, Corporate Vice President Office Product Group, at Microsoft said: “Microsoft’s collaboration with Hexagon is driven by a shared belief that the future of work and productivity is grounded in collaboration. Similar to how Microsoft applied the Fluid Framework to our own Microsoft 365 applications, Hexagon has extended that same open-source data fabric to manufacturing problems, enabling real-time collaboration between the many engineering disciplines it takes to make a great product, through its Nexus platform running on Microsoft Azure. It’s something that will push the boundaries for workplace collaboration for both of our platforms as we connect productivity with the engineering and operational technologies ‘makers’ need to be productive today.” 

Learn more about Nexus at https://hexagon.com/products/product-groups/nexus

Hexagon is the global leader in digital reality solutions, combining sensor, software and autonomous technologies. We are putting data to work to boost efficiency, productivity, quality and safety across industrial, manufacturing, infrastructure, public sector, and mobility applications.

Our technologies are shaping production and people related ecosystems to become increasingly connected and autonomous – ensuring a scalable, sustainable future.

Hexagon (Nasdaq Stockholm: HEXA B) has approximately 24,500 employees in 50 countries and net sales of approximately 5.4bn EUR. Learn more at hexagon.com and follow us @HexagonAB.
Media Enquiries
Robin Wolstenholme
Global Media Relations and Analyst Relations Manager
Hexagon's Manuacturing Intelligence Division
Email icon The Email ampersand icon Phone icon A touch screen phone with a circle home button icon