Siemens drives forward the Digital Enterprise
To meet the upcoming challenges posed by the Industrie 4.0 vision, Siemens is placing its trust in the Digital Enterprise. “For us, the Digital Enterprise has long since ceased to be just a vision”, explained Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG Klaus Helmrich, speaking at the Hannover Messe press conference on 13.04.2015 (Fig. 1). The Munich, Germany based international group is already providing products and solutions for the digital future across every sphere of its activity. These selectively leverage the many possibilities opened up by digitalization, which assumes divergent forms in different industries.
The path to the Digital Enterprise encompasses four logically interacting elements: The Digital Enterprise Software Suite, industrial communication networks, automation security and business-specific industrial services.
Digital Enterprise Software Suite
The Digital Enterprise Software Suite comprises software products used in the discrete industries which cover all the requirements of the industrial value chain: its backbone is formed by Teamcenter, a software platform for collaborative product data management. Tecnomatix and NX are used for design and planning. For real manufacturing, products such as the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Simatic IT and the Simatic S7 controller portfolio have proven successful the world over.
Industrial communication networks
When it comes to industrial communication, Siemens offers a comprehensive range of coordinated communication networks, from the AS interface to Industrial Ethernet together with the relevant switches of the Scalance X family.
Security in automation
Siemens already offers a broad portfolio of Industrial Security products and services designed specifically for industry within the framework of its “Defense in Depth” concept. This encompasses both plant and network security as well as system integrity.
Business-specific industrial services
Siemens offers a range of classical industrial and data-based services such as Plant Data Services, Plant Security Services and Plant Cloud Services. Its Plant Cloud Services for industry are based on an open cloud platform using SAP Hana technology. The aim is for Siemens customers to be able to use these to develop, extend and operate apps in the cloud.
Today, smart data analysis and evalu-ation provide an invaluable aid to industrial decision-making processes, and also make a decisive contribution to enhancing productivity. “Digitalization has long since ceased to stand just for a rapidly growing internationally generated mass of data”, continues Helmrich. “Digitalization also refers to the collation of data, the ability to analyze its content and use it to draw conclusions, or to develop totally new business models – and therefore finally to create considerable value.” Thus, digitalization is revolutionizing business activity the world over: Companies are now able to work more closely and more quickly with partners, to communicate directly with end users and to selectively address their specific needs.
At the same time, industry is faced with the enormous challenges of minimizing the time-to-market while improving flexibility and efficiency. Helmrich explained: “Only those with the ability to make intelligent use of large quantities of data will be able to secure decisive added value for their customers”.
While movement towards Industrie 4.0 forms a focal theme for discrete industries, it is also increasingly under discussion in the process industries. Digitalization with its consistent data model is playing an ever more important role in particular when it comes to the lifecycle of process plants. The supporting pillar here is the service backbone: Based on its existing electrification and automation portfolio, Siemens is driving forward digitalization in the process industries, too (Fig. 2).
Although the production processes of most of the process industries also encompass discrete elements, such as packaging in the pharmaceutical industry, their requirements differ from those of the discrete and also the hybrid industries. The process industries are currently impacted by the volatility and heterogeneity of the global markets, by high location-dependent cost pressures, by energy and resource efficiency as well as a demographic shift whose repercussions include a shortage of skilled engineering and plant operating personnel.
This is why enterprises such as Siemens are focusing on three key fields of action: The digital plant, modularization and production excellence. The definition and implementation of the Industrie 4.0 vision are supported at Siemens by a whole range of approaches such as a joint data model based on the Comos portfolio for lifecycle engineering and plant management, the combination of preconfigured operating units using standardized interfaces aided by the extensive automation portfolio, alongside energy-efficient operation, remote services, remote diagnostics and predictive maintenance (Fig. 3).