Roland Busch, CEO, SiemensRoland Busch, CEO
The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused the manufacturing sector to accelerate digital transformation and smart manufacturing practices across the production lines. That said, to stay competitive, manufacturers must devise and implement multiple new and agile approaches for monitoring products and enhancing quality control. Smart Manufacturing solutions connect energy systems, buildings, and industries, improving efficiency and sustainability significantly. By utilizing advanced technologies such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Big Data analytics, enterprises can re-define workflow processes and manage supply chains, creating a change that targets increased performance of the production lines. Manufacturing companies are working with customers, and partners are focusing on creating an ecosystem that both intuitively responds to the operational needs and helps achieve their business objectives. Industrial robots play a vital role in smart manufacturing, creating a virtual and connected ecosystem. It collects data associated with equipment, which enhances efficiency and scheduling. It also predicts and mitigates any unforeseen error. Furthermore, smart manufacturing technology supports the customers to thrive and progress sustainable development initiatives to protect our planet for the next generation. Smart manufacturing is also expected to balance supply and demand, enhance product design, optimize manufacturing materials, and significantly reduce waste.

In the current scenario, the smart manufacturing market is competitive and consists of several major players. One of the most prominent players in the market is Siemens. The company is a leader in creating innovative manufacturing technological solutions for more resource-efficient factories and resilient supply chains to smarter buildings and grids, cleaner, comfortable transportation, and advanced healthcare. Siemens empowers customers to transform the industries that form the backbone of economies, changing every day for billions of people. The company’s facility in Amberg, Germany, is an immaculate 108,000-square-foot high-tech plant. The smart machines coordinate the production and global distribution of the company’s Simatic control devices - Op centre, the digital brain of more innovative manufacturing. It is a harmonized, holistic portfolio of manufacturing operations management (MOM) capabilities for advanced planning and scheduling manufacturing execution, quality management, manufacturing intelligence and performance, and formulation, specification, and laboratory management. Opcenter expands and leverages legacy products’ heritage, including Camstar, SIMATIC IT, Preactor, R&D Suite, and QMS Professional solutions to enable the digital transformation of manufacturing. “It is precisely this kind of future-focused innovation and collaboration that is driving cutting-edge manufacturing today,”-Helmuth Ludwig, CEO, Siemens Industry Sector, North America.

“The paradigm shift in the industry— the real manufacturing world is converging with the digital manufacturing world to enable organizations to digitally plan and project the entire lifecycle of products and production facilities.” Ludwig adds. The endless variables and incredibly complex supply chain can maze the production process and require far exceed a traditional factory’s capabilities. Organizing its material flow, sequencing its operations, or even just intelligently scheduling its 1,100 employees to meet the requirements of an ever-changing job is beyond the capabilities of any single technology or any single tool.And yet, according to a research study conducted on the plant in 2010, the Amberg factory only records about 15 defects per million and enjoys a high reliability and traceability rate on its expansive lines. The solution to making all future smart factories work is creating a dense mesh of integrated technologies and cooperating into a more innovative and efficient whole.

It is precisely this kind of future-focused innovation and collaboration that is driving cutting-edge manufacturing today

The key to success for the Amberg plant is the integration of three specific critical manufacturing technologies—product lifecycle management (PLM), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and industrial automation. By acquiring these manufacturing technologies, companies can focus on aspects like shortening their innovation cycles, getting transparency into their operations, raising individual productivity through knowledge sharing across their organizations, and minimizing risk by building more predictability into dynamic environments.

Historically, companies that build printed circuit boards (PCBs) mainly focus on electronics and electromechanical production aspects. And most times, the mechanical design changes overlook the electronic characteristics in production and vice-versa. For more than 170 years, Siemens has built its business on pioneering technologies that have led the manufacturing industry forward. With its smart manufacturing software solutions, Siemens’ Smart Manufacturing solutions equip manufacturers with the tools they need to respond to market changes and disruptive innovation rapidly. A change made in one specific area can be considered across all the related hardware, software, and electronics disciplines, preventing potential problems and making planning more efficient. This helps businesses achieve visibility and trust in their production processes and allows all stakeholders easy access to the correct information on time.

Recently, Siemens announced a partnership with Google Cloud to optimize factory processes and improve productivity on the shop floor. The technology leader in industrial automation and software intends to integrate Google Cloud’s leading data cloud and artificial intelligence/ machine learning (AI/ML) technologies with its factory automation solutions to help manufacturers innovate for the future. Manufacturers will be able to harmonize their factory data, run cloud-based AI/ML models on top of that data, and deploy algorithms at the network edge by combining Google Cloud’s data cloud and AI/ML capabilities with Siemens’ Digital Industries Factory Automation portfolio. In addition, applications such as visual inspection of products or predicting the wear-and-tear of machines on the assembly line will be automated. “Siemens is a leader in advancing industrial automation and software, and Google Cloud is a leader in data analytics and AI/ML. This cooperation will combine the best of both worlds and bring AI/ML to the manufacturing industry at scale. By simplifying the deployment of AI in industrial use cases, the company aims to help employees augment their critical work on the shop floor. However, integrating it into automation and the network is a complex task, requiring highly specialized expertise and innovative products such as Siemens Industrial Edge. “The potential for artificial intelligence to radically transform the plant floor is far from being exhausted. Many manufacturers are still stuck in AI’ pilot projects’ today – we want to change that,” said Axel Lorenz, VP of Control at Factory Automation of Siemens Digital Industries, in a recent press conference.