We have Experience and Application Centres for Digital Innovations
Published on : Wednesday 01-12-2021
Bhaskar Mandal, Head, Digital Industries, Siemens Limited.
The debate over climate change and the need to act is now gaining traction. To what extent can digitalisation contribute to mitigate this crisis?
The world’s resources are finite, and we all need to make more with less. In other words, we need to become more efficient and flexible so we can drive sustainable innovation for a world we want to live in today and tomorrow. Digitalisation and automation are the game changers to meet these challenges. At Siemens, through automation, digitalisation, and the intelligent use of data we drive the industrial Internet of Things, enabling industry to manufacture products that are more sustainable, make production smarter and thus more resource-efficient, ensure greater transparency of a product’s CO2 footprint across the supply chain. With our Digital Enterprise portfolio and Digital Twin approach, we support our customers to raise the sustainability of products, plants and processes by saving finite resources through infinitely available data – in all verticals of the discrete and process industries.
Perhaps more than any other trend, Digitalisation has provided a level playing field. So, what explains the divide or the procrastination?
Industry 4.0 and digitalisation has evolved over the past few years and is gaining acceptance among various manufacturing verticals. Evidently, players in both discrete and process industries have begun to see the long-term benefits of a Digital Enterprise – speed, flexibility, quality and efficiency of production or assembly as well as enabling new business models. The question is no longer about implementation but about thinking ahead toward true digital transformation.
The Covid pandemic is said to have acted as a catalyst for digitalisation. What is the ground reality in terms of increased interest in digital transformation?
Earlier, the business drivers of Industry 4.0 were focused on productivity, cost reduction, faster time to market, competitive advantage, sustainability and innovation. The goal was to make businesses function better and efficiently. However, when I look at the road ahead for Industry 4.0, the need of the hour is to relook at our business models and ensure a sustainable one. It needs to be looked at holistically right from design to production to services. In doing so, all available technologies, especially Industry 4.0, must be evaluated to maximise the traditional KPIs as well as the emerging ones listed above. Only with this outlook, can our industries in India emerge stronger in the coming times.
With the transformation of the Kalwa unit, Siemens has showcased the potential of brownfield assets. Has this influenced other industries to follow suit? What are the other Siemens initiatives on the digitalisation front to help the Indian industry in general, the SMEs in particular?
To address how Indian Manufacturers can utilise digitalisation to address growing manufacturing challenges, we transformed our Low-voltage Switchgear factory in Kalwa, into a globally benchmarked Digitalised Factory in 2017. It is now a perfect showcase for Indian enterprises especially SMEs in terms of mastering increasing product and process complexity, reducing time to market, adapting to changing market requirements, deliver individualised products and secure continuous product improvement. In addition to implementing digital technologies in our own manufacturing facilities, we also have built labs and digital experience centres for educating, assessing and providing Indian manufacturers to ‘touch and feel’ Industry 4.0 related technologies and learn/explore relevant domain specific use cases. We have Experience and Application Centres for Digital Innovations in Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Noida and Gurgaon where our engineers work together with our customers to develop digital innovations and PoCs for various applications including data analysis and machine learning. Siemens has been fully committed and we believe in the potential of the Indian Manufacturing industry. Towards this, we have been supporting and involved with all stakeholders be it our customers, the industry, academia, institutions and the regulatory bodies.
What are the tech trends that are most likely to resonate in 2022?
Trends and developments in the world of IT like artificial intelligence, edge computing, machine learning, and digital marketplaces as well as new forms of collaboration are providing additional momentum and are changing industrial workflows. This is the next stage in the digital transformation.
When we talk about the next phase in the digital transformation, we mainly see far greater dovetailing of IT and OT (operational technology). We’re well equipped for that step, because today we already continuously connect every step in the value chain, from design and engineering to production and services. In the future we’ll intermesh that aspect even further with IT applications, such as CRM and ERP systems. Our MES systems have already demonstrated the first steps for how that can work. And we’re also hard at work on developing integrated platforms, for example with edge computing. We’ll be focusing even more intently on that work in the future. Which means we’re joining forces with our customers in thinking ahead to the future of industry.
Combined with today’s or even tomorrow’s computing power it becomes possible to integrate advanced analytics into automation. For example, AI can learn to identify upcoming machine failures to realise predictive maintenance or can help a robotic hand to handle parts it has not been programmed for. AI code can run in the cloud, as well as on edge devices right next to the machine for even shorter reaction times.
Edge Computing and Artificial Intelligence can be used to increase availability and productivity and to optimise Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE), thus enabling closed loop analytics. Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) decide how best to use parts to make production more flexible. Artificial Intelligence can also support engineers to significantly reduce programming times and virtual reality enables to reduce travel costs in new ways of global collaboration. Industrial communication, e.g., Industrial 5G, is crucial for these applications. Digital platforms like the Additive Manufacturing Network enable distributed manufacturing for an overall increase in production flexibility worldwide. To master the growing complexity, an innovative web-based process control system provides outstanding usability and highest efficiency.