By: Kathryn Gerardino-Elagio
Manufacturing is one of the most important contributors to Asia Pacific's economy and is going through a rapid digital transformation. With unforeseen pandemic interruptions to factory operations in the past two years, smart manufacturing comes to the forefront in 2022. In fact, Asia Pacific Smart Manufacturing Market is expected to register a CAGR of 7.57% over the forecast period from 2021 to 2026, Mordor Intelligence reported.
On this note, International Metalworking News for Asia was invited to a virtual roundtable where Bas Kuper, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Siemens Digital Industries Software, along with Tim Srock, CEO of Mendix, and Vincent Lim, Vice President, and Head of Asia Pacific, Siemens-Mendix shared their perspectives on how the future of manufacturing will evolve in 2022 and beyond.
According to Bas, the company is seeing a big drive for digitalisation as a means for a closer collaboration between different functional domains within a customer. Currently, companies are not just facing a technological challenge, but an organisational one as well. "Customers, once they are convinced about the digital enterprise, must rethink their past investments and application landscape because we have observed that integration is one of their biggest challenges. The big drive for digitalisation means a closer collaboration between the customers’ different functional domains is necessary," Bas remarked.
Integration is key
During the discussion, Bas, Tim, and Vincent mentioned that integration is key and is one of the biggest challenge customers are facing. They are currently spending more on integration than on application and they are not system integrators. They want to produce something in the end. This is where Siemens have an edge on the competition because of the level of integration they provide in their portfolio.
Bas stated the partnership between Siemens and SAP. Together, the industry leaders deliver integrated end-to-end software solutions across product lifecycle, supply chain, and asset management. He stressed that it is about creating a truly integrated digital thread that unites product and asset lifecycle management with the business that enables customers to optimise production of products.
Tim on the other hand explained how Mendix can connect to many other systems as well, combining data coming from multiple systems too. This all-in-one, low-code application development platform helps organisations build multi-experience, enterprise grade applications at scale. The platform is designed to accelerate the entire development lifecycle, from ideation to deployment and operation, while enabling collaboration at each step.
"As the digital and physical word converge, people are increasingly turning to applications for solutions. Thus, the need for low-code platforms becomes more urgent and pressing. Mendix essentially provides everyone – both professional and citizen developers – with building blocks in a low-code fashion, enabling people to develop applications and deploy it where needed," said Tim.
Talking about Mendix, Bas described, "The key for us is that customers usually do not want to change much on their manufacturing solution. But because of these new insights and the benefits that can be achieved, including the pressure with digitalisation and what they are getting from the market, customers are rethinking the entire end-to-end landscape, which gives us the opportunity that we might not have had before."
A good example of what Bas is talking about is the technology partnership between Siemens and Hyundai and Kia. Like so many of Siemens customers, Hyundai and Kia is undergoing major transformations in its business; and have evaluated and assessed various alternatives. Siemens is providing next generation engineering and product data management through NX™ software and the Teamcenter® portfolio from Siemens' Xcelerator portfolio of integrated software, services, and development platform to embrace the most comprehensive digital twin.
With a traditional "build, test, break" mindset and a siloed approach to manufacturing, carmakers are struggling to keep up and deliver the next-generation car. Not having the necessary insight into real-time manufacturing performance and failure identification will eventually lead to failure, slowing down production and jeopardising their competitive position. They need to adopt a smart manufacturing approach to compete in today’s fast-changing automotive landscape, implementing multiple solutions across the disconnected branches of their manufacturing organisation.
Vincent commented, "Smart manufacturing is one of the key market trends, powered and driven by consumers. As such, Consumer-Driven Manufacturing is a concept within the Mendix value proposition. Many manufacturers are thankful for the very flexible and rapid application development platform that is Mendix – which enabled them to accelerate their digital transformation journey during the pandemic. What used to take years, you can now achieve ten times of that in a year alone."
Equal Prioritisation between Product and Process Innovation: To remain competitive in the global manufacturing scene, companies must seek to reduce costs and boost operational efficiency for their customers. To achieve this balance in the current age of digitalisation, businesses should prioritise process innovation as much as product innovation. With both capabilities managed successfully, companies can thrive and ensure business continuity and growth.
Hyperconnectivity in a Digital-first World: With the ongoing transition towards a hyperconnected and a digital-first world, companies are undergoing a digital and business transformation — but this is challenging for manufacturers with manual processes, legacy systems, siloed operations, and data. To address this, companies can tap on solutions like Siemens' Xcelerator or the Mendix Low Code platform that can easily integrate into existing systems and data, modernising core systems and improving overall operational efficiency.
System Integration and Automation amidst the Talent War: Customers in the manufacturing industry are battling a talent war. The challenge of finding skilled workers reinforces the urgency for system automation and a reduction in manual mundane processes. Attracting skilled talent is not enough. Companies should pay attention to integrating connectivity, data, digital processes, and applications into their operations to optimise efficiency while addressing labour challenges at the same time.
The Rise of Low-Code: The popularity of low-code platforms is on the rise, as it allows companies to build on and modernise existing core and legacy systems, automating tasks within workflows. Companies may run their core systems, of any shape or form, and deploy it wherever necessary. In addition, they may launch new business models and products quickly, enabling the best-in-class customer experience while adapting to a rapidly evolving market.