Digital enterprise captures all plant processes

Siemens Industry Automation CEO sees digital design and simulation key to manufacturing growth.


The convergence of products and systems with software tools on a digital platform will help deliver on the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) in manufacturing. That was the main message from Anton Huber, CEO of Siemens Industry Automation Division, at the opening of the Siemens 2014 Automation Summit in Orlando on June 25.

"The Internet is accelerating all of our businesses," Huber told the more than 500 attendees at the opening of the three-day summit. “The Internet of Things has trickled down into the automation area." 

At the 2013 Siemens Summit in New Orleans, the company demonstrated its Totally Integrated Automation (TIA), providing full integration from devices to the enterprise. Courtesy: CFE Media, Mark T. Hoske

With this acceleration, Huber said, has come increasing complexity in all aspects of the manufacturing process. That has driven data throughout the enterprise, and increasingly to the plant floor. 

"We believe at the end of the day, all processes will be digital," said Huber. "If you do all the work digitally because you're using simulation software, then you'll have to have integration with all of your partners."

That will require what Siemens is calling a Digital Enterprise Platform. "We call 'digital enterprise' the digital representation of physical world," Huber said. "You'll want to design your product, run your product and see how it all fits together. When you're sure it will work, then you'll invest money with the physical assets."

Maintain legacy, develop digital

One decision Siemens made almost a decade ago was to maintain legacy systems while developing new software and digital solutions. As data management has increased along with the increasing complexity of products and systems, it's been important to keep the data available at every stage of the production process. "When start going toward a digital enterprise, you want to make sure all legacy components feed the data backbone," Huber said.

It's also affected product lifecycle issues, which Huber noted also is shorter as strategies such as additive manufacturing are creating greater opportunities to deliver custom products to consumers.

- Bob Vavra is content manager, Plant Engineering,; proofed and posted by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media. 

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