Thinking industry further!

Digitalization is already significantly enhancing industrial customers’ flexibility and productivity today. It’s opening up new business models for them. But the future of industry holds still more potential for every sector. Former Siemens Managing Board Member Klaus Helmrich explains in an interview how that potential can be tapped. 

Mr. Helmrich, five years ago, Siemens presented the Digital Enterprise at the Hannover Messe. Is that concept still current?

Klaus Helmrich (KH): It’s more current than ever! There was a good reason why we chose “Digital Enterprise – Implement now!” as our slogan for the 2018 Hannover Messe. In recent years we’ve been constantly expanding and refining our Digital Enterprise portfolio to make it even more useful for our clients. End-to-end digitalization of the entire value chain means that both processing and manufacturing industries can get a better handle on their extremely dynamic markets. It gives them greater flexibility and higher productivity, all while maintaining the highest standards in security. Our customers provide the examples of how well that’s already working today. Some of them are also included here in our booklet, and people can see others firsthand at our booth at this year’s Hannover Messe.

In other words, the Digital Enterprise already became reality a good while ago, and now you’re making every effort to implement it further?

KH: Yes. We’re constantly moving forward with implementing Industrie 4.0 in the manufacturing and processing industry. Which can already be done quite well with the portfolio we have today. But we’re pushing significantly further. We’re thinking ahead to the future of industry, and working on tapping the next phase of the digital transformation. We’re doing that by expanding the Digital Enterprise to include technologies of the future and deriving specific solutions for various sectors’ differing needs.

What exactly does that involve?

KH: The Digital Enterprise enables our customers to gather data, analyze it, and translate it into recommendations and instructions for action. Our focused use of artificial intelligence, edge computing and autonomous handling systems will provide an even bigger boost for flexibility and productivity in the future. Other support will come from expanded capabilities at the TIA portal and a reinforcement of our cybersecurity portfolio, as well as from our new Simatic PCS neo process control system, which is completely redefining how the process control systems of the future will work. Components like these will enable us and our customers to carry the future of industry far beyond Industrie 4.0, with a stronger focus on individual sectors’ needs.

You’re talking about enabling the next phase in the digital transformation. What do you think that will look like?

KH: When we talk about the next phase in the digital transformation, I mainly see far greater dovetailing of IT and OT (operational technology). We’re well equipped for that step, because today we already continuously connect every step in the value chain, from design and engineering to production and services. In the future we’ll intermesh that aspect even further with IT applications, such as CRM and ERP systems. Our MES systems have already demonstrated the first steps for how that can work. And we’re also hard at work on developing integrated platforms, for example with edge computing. We’ll be focusing even more intently on that work in the future. Which means we’re joining forces with our customers in thinking ahead to the future of industry. 

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