Embrace the digital plant to build a bridge to the future

Siemens officials call digital manufacturing ‘do or die’ in pushing for faster adoption at their automation summit in Florida.


Raj Batra, president of the Siemens digital factory division at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Siemens Automation Summit, spoke about the digital factory and its benefits for companies. Image courtesy: Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering, CFE MediaDigital manufacturing has moved beyond the hype to become essential to production's future.

"Companies now understand they have to embrace digitalization. It's a do-or-die thing," said Raj Batra, president of the Siemens digital factory division at the opening ceremony of the 2017 Siemens Automation Summit in Boca Raton, Fla., on June 27. "What this means for us is taking billions of intelligent devices and creating a bridge between digital and real world to increase value."

Despite the established potential to improve operational efficiency and to lower production costs, Batra said the adoption of digital manufacturing hasn't yet caught up to the potential.

"Many people have started, but the pace isn't fast enough, especially in small to mid-sized manufacturers," Batra said. "In some cases, it's a capital issue. Some people just don't know where to start. Some are just missing the boat."

Making the case for digital manufacturing requires plant leadership to understand that change is not just inevitable. It's essential.

"Companies large and small understand they have a lot to gain, and they understand the risks of betting on the status quo," Batra said. "These are transformative changes. If you are not disruptive, you are going to be disrupted."

In a data-driven environment, Batra cited two sets of data to make his point. On the one hand, there are expected to be 1 trillion connected devices by 2030, and the digital economy will encompass 25% of the world's economy by 2020. While half of the world's data was created in the last year, Batra noted that, "Industry hasn't kept pace with what we see in the consumer world."

On the other side, those companies that haven't changed have become the dinosaurs of the economy. Batra cited a figure that more than half of the Fortune 500 companies in 2000 no longer exist.

One of the biggest reasons for this is a lack of speed. "When we think about digitalization, time to market is the single biggest advantage. It's the most important driver of industry," Batra said. He added cultural transformation as another key change. "It's not just about capital; it's about culture. Those silos and walls and barriers are being broken down."

In touting Siemens' solutions for creating an interactive process spanning design, production, engineering, and services, Batra noted maintenance would be a key area of change in the overall drive to production efficiency.

"In the past, 90% of our time was spent diagnosing the problem, and 10% of the time to fix it. We're going to flip that."

The other major change for the future is using a digital twin of the production process to allow plant managers to simulate and troubleshoot production before the first product goes into the assembly process.

"We have to be able to model the entire design production process and create a perfect digital copy," Batra said. "If we can simulate and virtualize, we can control the physical plant behavior. It's possible to simulate how all the key elements interact before committing resources."

Bob Vavra, content manager, Plant Engineering, CFE Media, bvavra@cfemedia.com.

ONLINE extra

See related articles linked below.

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
October 2018
Tools vs. sensors, functional safety, compressor rental, an operational network of maintenance and safety
September 2018
2018 Engineering Leaders under 40, Women in Engineering, Six ways to reduce waste in manufacturing, and Four robot implementation challenges.
GAMS preview, 2018 Mid-Year Report, EAM and Safety
October 2018
2018 Product of the Year; Subsurface data methodologies; Digital twins; Well lifecycle data
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
October 2018
Complex upgrades for system integrators; Process control safety and compliance
September 2018
Effective process analytics; Four reasons why LTE networks are not IIoT ready

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
click me