Digitalization Changes Everything

By Sharada Prahladrao

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Summary

Presentations by Siemens, a Global Sponsor at this year’s ARC India Forum, “Driving Digital Transformation in Industry and Cities” emphasized the point that digitalization changes everything.  In this context, digitalization changes everything Siemens%20India%20Forum%201.JPG“everything” ranges from design; processes; strategies; and time-to-market to making better, more informed decisions.  Collectively, digitalization is transforming the global industrial landscape.

The company believes that manufacturers and other industrial organizations must transform their businesses into digital enterprises and this should extend across the entire value chain. This resonates well with what ARC Advisory Group advocates through its Digital Transformation Council.  As we learned, the Siemens Digital Enterprise, a comprehensive portfolio of industrial software and automation, is designed to integrate and digitalize business processes. 

The key takeaways from the three presentations that Siemens executives made at the recent ARC India Forum include:

  • A robust digital ecosystem enables digitalization
  • It is imperative to understand, plan and have a clear-cut digitalization strategy
  • Creating a digital twin merges the physical and virtual worlds
  • Integrated security is essential
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Siemens’ Approach to Digital Transformation

The keynote address by Sameer Prakash, Head-Digital Enterprise, Siemens was about the Digital Enterprise, the company’s structured approach to digital transformation.  Manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to improve speed, flexibility, quality, and efficiency levels; simultaneously ensuring health, safety, and environmental issues.   Giving the example of speed and time-to-market in the automotive sector, he said that scaling up to meet the consumer demand is imperative.  Processes must be flexible as consumers want customized products at the same price as mass-produced products.  Not only does the final product have to be sustainable, even the resources (energy consumption, CO2 level, etc.) must be controlled.  Digitalization addresses all these requirements, said Mr. Prakash.  He provided case studies of Siemens’ solutions across industries, such as chemicals, aerospace, and machine building.  

Digital Enterprise

Siemens designed its Digital Enterprise approach to provide end-to-end solutions for process and discrete industries.  It is designed to digitalize their business processes to integrate the entire value chain.   This is a holistic approach comprised of offerings across the value chain and digital technologies can be implemented at any point, said Mr. Prakash.  He explained that from the end user perspective it is prudent to have a digital strategy before embarking on the digital journey.  Implementation can be done in stages depending on the focus areas within that strategy.  But without a clear strategy in place it will be a “piecemeal” approach, he said, and the benefits will not be realized.  In this context, he spoke about end-to-end solutions for all industries:  numerous starting possibilities, brownfield or greenfield, and standardized and open interfaces.  

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Digital Twin

Further, he spoke about how the process creates a digital twin that merges the virtual with the real worlds to help optimize operations.  The digital twin makes it possible to simulate, test, and validate in a virtual environment; and then deploy on the shop floor or production environment.  He explained how a digital twin of the entire process was made at the company’s brownfield factory at Kalwa.  This is now used to support product variations on the same production line.  Integrating and digitalizing processes forms a closed loop, explained Mr. Prakash.  Then this data is sent to the cloud for storage, analysis, and to support predictive maintenance.  He touched upon Siemens’ pilot projects in India on artificial intelligence and traffic signaling systems. 

Case Studies

Case studies provide an insightful view of the company’s approach and tools.  Mr. Prakash’s presentation showcased the benefits of the digital twin through these success stories:

  • The digital twin technology helped a passenger vehicle maker in India reduce time-to-market by 30 percent and energy cost by 20 percent; and the integrated system ensured product quality.
  • In a tire curing press, the digital twin helped resolve mechanical issues before commissioning; and during commissioning it decreased time, efforts, and risk.

Advanced Automation Control Solutions

The next speaker from Siemens, Sheetal Paralikar, Emerging Verticals, Factory Automation, Digital Industries, spoke about advanced automation control solutions for industry and cities.  Her presentation provided more detailed explanations about the challenges that manufacturers face and the advantages of the digital twin.   Today, customers want everything (customized product, high quality, quick delivery etc.) at a reduced cost, she said. And to meet this demand, suppliers require flexible solutions.  Integrating and digitalizing the entire value chain is key to remaining competitive.  

Elaborating further about the digital twin she said that it provides continuous feedback of product, production, and performance to optimize operations.  Siemens’ portfolio offers virtual commissioning solution scenarios across the entire value chain, said Ms. Paralikar. In this context, she showed how digitalization optimizes a tunnel system’s entire lifecycle; what-if scenarios are created, so that operators are trained and learn how to react/respond in emergency situations, etc. 

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In addition, Ms. Paralikar said that edge computing combines the benefits of local data processing and cloud-based data processing.  Edge technology offers machine builders and system integrators the flexibility to update and make changes to plants and machines, as needed,  throughout their lifecycle.  Next, she spoke about how edge computing can be used as a smart bridge to leverage the value of OT/IT integration for seamless operations. 

Cybersecurity and Network Transparency

Vivek Roy, Head – Industrial Communication & Identification, Process Automation, Digital Industries, Siemens focused on cybersecurity and the need for network transparency.  He explained how digitalization has enabled growth across industries, globally.  Industry 4.0 has caused changes in various areas from:

  • Manual operations to fully automated remote operations
  • Isolated silos of information to full production transparency
  • Manual warehouse management to automated guided vehicles

To remain successful, three key elements need to be considered: availability and application performance, transparency, and security, opined Mr. Roy. Digitalization results in closer connection between the IT and OT domains; but there are underlying differences between the two, he said.  Further, he spoke about addressing the critical requirements of industrial networks: high availability, robustness, security, flexibility, determinism, etc. 

Security is about technology, processes, and people and must be addressed by all stakeholders – product supplier, system integrator, and asset owner, he explained.  To this end, the company has developed a holistic, defense-in-depth approach (based on the lines of IEC62443 standards) to cybersecurity.

Further, Mr.  Roy spoke about standards and structures.  Siemens introduced SINEC NMS, a network monitoring tool designed to provide predictive, preventive, and corrective measures to improve network transparency for the customer’s industrial network.  A case study demonstrated that this tool reduced network complexity and efforts; and provided device-independent configuration function and firmware update function for single or multiple network components.   

Conclusion

Siemens’ presentations and case studies at the ARC India Forum showcased the company’s expertise and offerings to all stakeholders at different stages in the digital transformation journey.  An interesting angle that emerged was that now collaboration is the norm; not just within the organization - but with other solution providers, combining strengths and accelerating global industrial growth.

 

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Keywords: ARC India Forum, Digitalization, Global Sponsor, Siemens, Digital Twin, Collaboration, Siemens, ARC Advisory Group.

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