Siemens Summit Touts Digital Twins and Transformations

  • July 02, 2019
  • Siemens
  • Feature
Siemens Summit Touts Digital Twins and Transformations
Siemens Summit Touts Digital Twins and Transformations

By Renee Bassett, Chief Editor,

Disruption and transformation were twin themes the Siemens 2019 Automation Summit, with the digitalization of industrial processes promising the way forward to greater process stability, productivity, and maintenance efficiencies.

“Digitalization trends like AI (artificial intelligence), cloud, edge, advanced robotics and many more are merging together to transform industry,” said Raj Batra, president of Siemens Digital Industries USA, during his keynote presentation. “We’ve all been learning a new vocabulary over the past 10 years,” he said, and now many are engineering their own digital transformations.

“It seems every customer we talk to now has a digital task force,” said Batra privately. “That is exciting, because now is the time to begin,” he added: The technology “is all very scalable, and the biggest mistake is not even starting.”

The 700 attendees at the Siemens Automation Summit—including more than 250 first-timers—were not making that mistake. They were choosing among 50 breakout sessions presented by their peers, Siemens-certified Solution Partners and/or Siemens product and industry experts.

Batra explained how Siemens is there to “innovate for and with customers” in this time of industry and market disruptions: “We have a 10-year head start.” Siemens has invested more than $10 billion in merger and acquisition activity since 2007, he said, but more important is the estimated €5.7 billion invested in research and development in FY2019. That represents about a 40 percent increase over FY2014, he said.

Those investments were on display in the exhibit area of the show. Highlights included the new Simatic PCS neo process control system software with a multi-user, web-based engineering interface; the Sinamics G120X infrastructure drive for pumps, fans and compressors; the Siemens Industrial Edge data analysis platform; and the Siemens-Aruba strategic partnership for integrated networks combining information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT).


Integration of the Virtual and the Real Worlds

“You can’t just bolt on an acquisition,” Batra said. “Siemens Digital Industries is based on the integration of the virtual and real worlds of industry. It has driven our work in software development over the past decade toward delivering the digital twin,” he added. For Siemens, the concept of the digital twin “encompasses product, performance and production process” across vertical industries.

Batra encouraged companies to embrace technologies like digital twins, cloud computing and smart Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices to drive business performance. Today, he said, valves are providing data that leads to greater plant uptime. Terminal blocks are communicating their connectivity health to cloud-based systems. And Siemens’ 2019 Customer Excellence Award winners shared their advances during the keynote and in individual breakout sessions.

Dow Performance Silicones, for example, is using digital twin technology to create more stable processes. Air Products is using the Siemens MindSphere cloud-based IIoT platform to host a proprietary predictive monitoring and fault diagnostics tool—and is now expanding its business by licensing the tool to others using MindSphere.

“Data is at the core,” Batra said, and data is the basis on which industry is being transformed. The amount of production data generated expected to increase five-fold every year for the next few years, he said, so the time is ripe to tap into this emerging stream.

Form a digitalization task force. Identify a pilot project. “The keys to success are going to be speed and scale,” said Batra. “You don’t wait seven years to turn ROI (return on investment) into profit.” 

Batra explained that Siemens has been in the process of digitalizing its own business for 10 years, so the company has some experience of its own to share. In Siemens’ gas turbine manufacturing plants, for example, “we’ve used data to extend maintenance intervals by 30 percent,” he said. 

The next Siemens Automation Summit is scheduled to be held in Chicago, June 22-24, 2020.

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