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Transformation: Now imperative and an opportunity

Source:International Metalworking News     Date:2020-08-13
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With many parts of the world still imposing travel restrictions and mass gatherings, attending industry conferences and exhibitions has now become impossible. In light of these difficult and challenging circumstances, Siemens Digital Industries Software launched the 2020 Media & Analyst Conference virtually, wrote Kathryn Gerardino-Elagio for International Metalworking News for Asia.


President and CEO Tony Hemmelgarn opened his keynote speech by explaining that the times of crisis have historically driven innovation. “Transformation is now an imperative and an opportunity. And COVID-19 may be the ultimate catalyst that pushes humans to completely embrace digital transformation,” he declared.

Moving on, Tony shared a few customer stories that showed their resilience in a time like this. One example is Vinfast.  He disclosed, “Vinfast – our customer that we helped stand-up an automotive factory in 21 months by becoming a digital enterprise – wanted to manufacture 55,000 ventilators per month to help. In just over three weeks of researching ventilators, Vinfast engineers have succeeded in improving and mastering ventilator manufacturing technology from scratch. What allowed Vinfast to transform so rapidly and so effectively during this time is: A digital mindset.”

Digital mindset

Tony explained that the Xcelerator portfolio helps create a digital mindset, it speeds the digital transformation cycle and unlocks a powerful industrial network effect. “Xcelerator blurs the boundaries between traditional stand-alone engineering domains such as electrical, mechanical and software. It is how we help companies remain resilient and transform into a digital enterprise large or small,” he described.

Tony justified Siemens strategy on three business imperatives: 1) Digital twin:  Must cover the entire product and production lifecycle, and must include a closed-loop to ensure actual performance data is fed back into models that are continuously refined. 2) Personalised approach: Many paths and no single approach. Companies need to work at their own pace. Siemens believes people in the future will not only be users of technology but will increasingly be shapers, and even developers of it as well. 3) Open eco-system: Siemens helps create industrial network effect –suppliers, customers, partners and distributors, collaborating within an ecosystem.

Comprehensive digital twin

Tony asked the audience to picture being requested to suddenly change a production mix overnight by shutting down certain product ramp ups due to a crisis.

“You need to redesign a new factory layout because of product mix, while working at home. The layout must ensure a safe work environment for employees following physical distancing requirements. Not all digital twins are created equal. How do you restart manufacturing, while keeping people safe,” he queried.

Tony responded, “With our technology, companies can continuously measure distances between workers provide real time visual feedback to employees regarding their spacing from others. When two employees are in a risk scenario (e.g., less than six feet apart), their badges will display a warning, alerting them to the situation.”

He further stated that data collected over time can be analysed to identify “hot spots” where risk scenarios occur frequently. Such situations become easily actionable via the digital twin enabling them to iterate and optimise safety and productivity and validate a redesign of the entire operation before more costly physical changes are made.

Personalised Adaptable/ Modern

Siemens believes employees in the future will not only be users of technology, they will be shapers & even developers of it as well. “Mendix provides a cloud native, enterprise grade security and full ALM support platform. They are building customer friendly personalised online portals to support

350,000+ farmers, distributers, retailers, & wholesalers. By doing this, you quickly achieve goals for sustainability, education, & supply chain management,” he remarked.

Flexible open EcoSystem

Talking about a flexible open ecosystem, Tony mentioned, they have customers switching from their traditional products to building ventilators, face shields and other products to address the human needs of the pandemic. He introduced, “One way to quickly respond is with additive manufacturing (AM). But what about the supply chain needed and design expertise? No company can do it all by themselves – they need an Eco-System.”

“Our AM Network has been reviewed before. But the difference it can make, is it responds to rapid innovation. Throughout the crisis, we have had more than 70 purchasing organisations, 120 suppliers and 40 AM knowledge experts, who joined the ecosystem of our AM network to address the human needs of the crisis,” he expressed.

Teamcenter Share and Teamcenter X

During the course of Tony’s speech, he revealed two new products: 1) Teamcenter Share: a design centric project collaboration and 2) Teamcenter X: an instant-on PLM across the lifecycle.

“If you are using generic cloud storage solutions for networked hard drives, we think we have a better solution: Teamcenter Share. This is a cloud-based design centric project collaboration with an engineering focus. The second new offering, Teamcenter X, is a cloud-based instant-on PLM service that helps companies of all sizes to immediately address engineering and business needs, such as design collaboration, document, BOM management, change, and requirements management across the lifecycle,” he cited.

Taking measures

As Covid-19 imposes strict measures and urges people to change their work and life routines, it’s important to understand how companies are adapting to these unprecedented circumstances.

“Like all companies, Siemens has been impacted by the COVID pandemic everywhere. Almost all of our employees have worked remotely at some point over the past few months, with many still working remotely at this time,” Tony answered.

He disclosed, “We’ve taken steps to enable us to continue developing and delivering solutions that speed digital transformation and best support our customers throughout this period. This has included cancelling or postponing some events and transitioning to virtual events whenever it works best for our customers.”

While the pandemic has impacted the ability of many of Siemens customers to design and manufacture as intended, Tony said they were also been amazed by some of the innovative things the Siemens Software community has done in response to this global health crisis.

“In response to the urgent need for ventilators, we’ve seen automotive and aviation leaders Vinfast Group start to produce them – this required the expedited design and manufacturing of entirely new products. The key to making this pivot successfully has been digitalisation and the use of the digital twin. The idea of a comprehensive digital twin can make an excellent guide to a company’s digital transformation focused on business value,” Tony quoted.

In closing, “By matching the predictive capability of the digital simulation world with the real-world impact results in the physical world, companies can learn, decide and act faster than their competitors – or in this case adapt quickly to keep up with changing external factors like a pandemic,” he finally commented. 

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