Drive technology goes digital
Sidrive IQ from Siemens provides a digital platform for drive technology based on MindSphere. The goal: a completely digitalized cycle of optimization, from design to after-sales service. Along with a rather unusual “expert,” Tim Dawidowsky, CEO of Siemens Large Drives, explains what it’s all about.
Tim Dawidowsky, as we can see, you’re not alone today …
Tim Dawidowsky: True. You could say I’ve brought some “reinforcements” with me. Let me do the introduction – this is Tim Dawidowsky, my digital twin, (gives a friendly greeting) and we’d like to do the interview together today.
That’s great. Global competition is always increasing, and everything has to become better and faster. How does Siemens help its industrial customers with this challenge?
Dawidowsky: The answer can be reduced to two concepts: Efficiency and productivity. In an ideal world, drive systems operate with no errors and no outages. However, in the real world they are subject to constant wear and tear, which often isn’t obvious to the naked eye. That’s the starting point for our digitalization strategy. You have to constantly monitor a motor, for example, and evaluate its operational data in order to identify potential breakdowns in advance and prevent them from happening.
Digital twin: Imagine that a digital counterpart of the entire drive system could communicate directly with the plant operator just like I’m communicating with you now. If something wasn’t right with my real twin, I’d know that in real time. I’d feel it, so to speak.
Dawidowsky: (laughs) But I’m doing fine, don’t worry. He’s right, however, and our digitalization strategy now makes this kind of communication possible for drive systems. Putting it another way: The operating data of our drive components is digitalized and thus also part of the digital twin. Sidrive IQ analyzes this data and communicates the results directly to the user – as a visualization, a warning, or a specific recommendation for action.
What systems are Sidrive IQ suitable for, and how exactly does it work?
Dawidowsky: It’s suitable for low-voltage applications and, in the future, also for high-voltage applications. It’s become possible to retrofit plants that are already in operation with networked drive components or connectivity elements. When motors and converters are in operation, we can use Sidrive IQ to examine their behavior in great detail. Anomalies like specific patterns in the operational data are often a sign that something isn’t working properly and that a malfunction is imminent.
Digital twin: Low-voltage motors need a small box called Simotics CONNECT to monitors what we might call the drive’s vital functions. In a human that would include pulse, temperature, and blood pressure, while in a motor we look at vibration, flow measurement, and temperature.
Dawidowsky: Correct. The box transmits this data to Sidrive IQ, our cloud-based, digital platform for drive technology, where the flood of measurement data is turned into data that can be used. Big Data becomes Smart Data. As you can see, Sidrive IQ gives plant and machine operators a very detailed overview of the status of their installed drive systems. Our service experts are also available here to support our customers with customized Sidrive IQ services, for instance with the Digital Check or with Connect Package.
Sidrive IQ gives the plant and machine operators a very detailed overview of the status of their installed drive systemsTim Dawidowsky, CEO Siemens Large Drives
This means that every part of the drive exists as a digital version and delivers huge volumes of data. How can operators maintain an overview of it all?
Dawidowsky: Let me go back to the image of the human organism, which my digital twin mentioned just now. If a problem occurs somewhere in our body, whether it’s a broken arm or a diseased organ, it will often impact on our overall well-being. The same goes for the drive train. A single defective motor can bring an entire production system to a standstill. From this perspective, these huge volumes of data are very important, because they supply a precise overview of the status of each individual component. Ultimately, the operator needs to know whether all the components are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do.
Digital twin: And to ensure the operators can always have that insight wherever they are, we provide them with an end-to-end digitalization and automation portfolio. That means the users don’t have to work through this flood of data themselves. Instead, Sidrive IQ provides a solution that helps analyze the data. Among other things, this involves the operator properly preparing the information for the different users.
Let’s come back to the question of communication one more time. Digital twin, you mentioned earlier that the plant “talks” to the operator to a certain extent. What are the specific benefits this offers?
Digital twin: Customers benefit in three ways: They get early warning of irregularities in the way the drive systems are operating, which improves system availability. Then the communication – the exchange of analyzed data – enables errors and faults to be located and rectified more quickly. And finally, preventive maintenance can be scheduled to improve productivity.
Dawidowsky: In short, we help customers make full use of all the opportunities offered by digitalization. With Sidrive IQ, they benefit from a digital platform for optimizing their drive systems – for a new dimension in terms of availability, serviceability, productivity, and efficiency. Together we work to make the future tangible. That’s also in line with the spirit of invention that’s always driven Siemens. Based on the principle of “Ingenuity for life,” we develop solutions that make people’s lives easier.
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