Community and experience fuel productivity |

Community and experience fuel productivity

July 302012
Community and experience fuel productivity
Siemens 2012 Automation Summit
July 2012
By Bill Lydon, Editor
The themes for the Siemens 2012 Automation Summit, June 25 – 29, 2012 in Washington D.C. were community, experiences, and productivity.  Discussion about productivity included the multitude of jobs people are doing, juggling of priorities, and challenges of finding talented people. This year’s Summit featured 43 Breakout sessions, 12 hands on sessions, feedback & roadmap sessions with attendees from over 100 companies. The event had record attendance. The following are key topics discussed at the general sessions.
Raj Batra, President of Industry Automation at Siemens Industry, emphasized that productivity was a key theme at the Summit this year because it is one of the most important business topics in the world today. He feels productivity over the course of last year has been the backbone of the United States economic recovery and Siemens is committed to providing products that improve productivity. Batra noted that the U.S. manufacturing economy is trending in the right direction with manufacturing in the 34th month of expansion with over 79% capacity utilization. Global factory outputs are likely to reach 17.7% of GDP in 2012 marking the third successive year it has grown. More operations are being moved back to the United States and this is being referred to as “Reshoring.”    He feels major drivers are transportation costs, wage increases in China, currency changes, and economic demand in the U.S.  Innovation and automation are fundamental to being lean and efficient. Batra also described the importance of customer/supplier collaboration where significant improvements have been developed with customers. Batra cited Siemens relationships with Chrysler and DuPont as prime examples. He also described the use of Siemens technology in the design and implementation of the NASA Mars “Curiosity” rover.  NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) used product lifecycle management (PLM) software from Siemens throughout the development process to digitally design, simulate and assemble the Rover before any physical prototypes were built. The software helped ensure all components would fit together, operate properly and withstand whatever environment the mission would require.
Future Plant Vision
Yiannis Dimitratos, Process Technology Leader of DuPont Engineering, is charged with developing DuPont’s competitive position in automation and process control technologies.  Dimitratos shared his thoughts regarding the future of manufacturing and DuPont’s vision and steps to achieve it. He described the smart plant as having embedded intelligence by saying, “The most important challenge here is not technical, I believe, the most important challenge is how we manage our knowledge.”  His presentation was very compelling and will be more broadly described in a future article.
Automation Trends
Eckert Eberle, CEO of Industrial Automation Systems, discussed trends in the industry, specifically highlighting speed, flexibility, safety & security, and sustainability. 
Speed is required to master short product life cycles by seamless integration of the engineering tools from product design to final production automation. In the past, this has been a serial process with each design step done after the other is completed. The process includes product, process, mechanical, electrical, and automation.  Eberle described how Siemens PLM is saving time with a level of integration he terms as “serial, tool supported.”  Fifteen to twenty years from now he predicts this will be a seamless, parallel process. Part of this vision includes the Siemens Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) portal that will converge all industrial automation programming and configuration into a single design environment including drives and motion. The Siemens PCS 7 is being coupled with COMOS Plant Engineering software to provide a seamless design environment for process control applications. 
He described the need for flexibility in execution to handle increasing number of variants with make to order manufacturing, citing Audi as an example. Audi has an increasing number of product variations and they partnered with Siemens to improve operations and achieve greater efficiencies. The MES implementation was included in partnership.  
Safety and security to protect personnel and intellectual property continues to be important. Eberle described how the functionality of safety requires a holistic approach to ensure maximum protection with integration into communications, PLCs, HMIs, and other devices. This includes detecting, reacting to, and mitigating problems. He noted cyber security functions need to be integrated and become more sophisticated to protect, while being easy for customers to use.
Sustainability is achieved through environmental compatibility including energy reduction, planning, procurement, monitoring and reporting.  He cited Siemens offerings in this area of B.Data energy management system, SIMATIC powerrate energy management software, and PROFIenergy. PROFIenergy provides the framework for implementing energy saving strategies. Eberle said, “The cheapest energy is that you don’t use.”
Network Diversity
I was surprised to see a demonstration booth running SINAMICS drives with both PROFINET and EtherNet/IP (ODVA). Siemens literature noted, “They say success depends on connections. As the global drives innovation leader Siemens recognizes the growing demand for Industrial Ethernet network technology. As a result, Siemens and SINAMICS drives now offer direct connectivity to both PROFINET and EtherNet/IP.” Siemens HMI also has an EtherNet/IP interface. This connectivity is illustrated in a video.
Thoughts & Observations
Siemens has an impressive PLM offering with linkages to automation. Siemens is committed to adding to and refining this offering. There are notable customers that have embraced this approach by engaging with Siemens as a strategic partner.   Siemens is a leader in this integrated approach that is out in front of competitors and are in a unique position to deliver greater value to customers that have the scale and volume to justify the investment.
The Siemens PCS 7 is being coupled with COMOS Plant Engineering software to provide a seamless design environment for process control applications. This move to develop a PLM-like offering for the process industry will be interesting to watch. I spent some time looking at combination and it offers some nice features. The Siemens answer to the DCS vs. PLC debate is they have a process offering and a discrete offering. The S7-1200 controller offerings and TIA are not yet part of this process vision.
Siemens is illustrating a very broad and sophisticated understanding of automation and control in both what they say and more importantly in the products that are introducing.
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