In an interview: Yürki-Erik Voss

Sales manager of the Siemens MTS division (Machine Tool Systems)

An interview by Katherina Lamsa for CNC4you 

The path to digitization is prepared by people and for people 

If you prefer to read the interview ...:

(Transcription of the video)

Katharina Lamsa: Mr. Voss, this year Siemens celebrates 60 years of CNC control. So, tell me, what have changed over the years at Siemens CNCs?

Yürki-Erik Voss: 
Quite a lot. Just looking back: Incredible 60 years!
Of course, the functionality, the capability of the systems changed a lot. From the first very basic controls – from our todays perspective – towards after approximately 30 years to first full digital controls like 840D powerline, 840D solution line, and of course intermediate milestones like introduction of ShopMill or ShopTurn, the first programming interfaces that allowed to interact in a graphical way directly with the machine without using G-code. And the latest and greatest news is the introduction of SINUMERIK ONE, the first digital native CNC offering a lot more opportunities for the future!

K. L.: Speaking of digitalization: “CNC” stands for computerized numerical control, so these are computers that are programmed. And in addition, machines today are connected, and product data can be transferred digitally by interfaces – so of my understanding: this is digitalization already. So: Why do we need a new CNC? Or in other words: What is different with SINUMERIK ONE?

Y.-E. V.: 
First of all: Not every machine tool user is on the same level as another one. So, there is a huge variety in sophistication that you see in the market, and of course SINUMERIK ONE stands for the digital twin. We have coded the digital twin directly into the heart of SINUMERIK ONE, allowing in a way that have never seen before to simulate the product and the production process with an accuracy that nobody could achieve, as we use the same code for simulation that will be in the actual physical machine then later on. And that of course offers a huge advantage with regard to optimization and productivity, in the end.

K. L.: 
When you talk about digitalization in the machine tool industry, can you give a few examples of the benefits it brings to the manufacturers and machine operators? 

Y.-E. V.: Of course with SINUMERIK ONE with the digital twin you are able to simulate the part, the part program itself, to optimize it cycle-timewise, optimize it quality-wise.

So at the time, you first touch the machine you have a more or less readymade NC program. You need a lot less setup time, and you need of course less time to actually produce a part and to bring the whole production process up to speed. So, in the end, it’s all about productivity gains.

I can now achieve the next quantum leap in productivity!
Yürki-Erik Voss, Siemens Machine Tool Systems about SINUMERIK ONE

And on the other side, beyond SINUMERIK ONE, digitalization for Siemens is of course our products around SINUMERIK Edge, allowing high speed interfaces into the control, adding functionality without burdening the control zo much, connecting the machines to the cloud, and by that, gaining a transparency,  that allows you to optimize the whole production setup.

And, what is most important to us, we use all these different elements of digitalization – of SINUMERIKs interpretation of digitalization – in our own factories like Bad Neustadt or Tuebingen, and by that not only gain productivity ourselves but also ensure that what we sell to our customer really works. And on top of that, especially with Bad Neustadt we like to invite customers there and show them what works and probably doesn’t work, to share experiences, and by that help the customers to learn from the mistakes we made, to benefit from what we generated already, and for us of course it’s an opportunity to get feedback and to learn and to improve on a daily basis.

K. L.: 
Despite all these possibilities or even advantages you just listed, there are still enough users who are struggling with digitalization. What hurdles do you see when you talk to customers, and how do you help them?

Y.-E. V.: 
I believe the answer to that is twofold. Number one is about understanding what is in for me as a customer. What is the benefit I gain by investing into digitalization. And on the other hand it’s about bringing the people on board, to take away fears about the job, about “Will I be able to perform what is expected to me, and just looking into that, it’s clear that you have to start at the local situation of each individual customer. So there is not one answer to digitalization. We have to look at the optimization potential and the needs of the customer and then see what is the best way to benefit from digitalization – is it transparency and then overall optimization, or is it process optimization, do you need to speed up certain processes, and this again depends on the individual customer and you have to look at the situation and therefore Siemens is follow up a way where we support our customers, offering them the opportunity to analyze their situation, come up with a digitalization plan - and if they want to – we of course support on the journey towards digitalization.

K. L.: 
When it comes to people, apparently companies find it difficult to find skilled workers for their CNC production. So in your opinion, who is better prepared for digitalization as a user? Is it the young digitally trained person or is it the experienced machine operator? 

Y.-E. V.: Both of them, I believe. You need the experienced guy to understand what you are actually doing: the cutting process, the machine, what works, what maybe doesn’t work, where do you have problems.And on the other hand bring in new, fresh people who are probably already digital natives, and bring in completely new perspective into the topic. That of course has a headstart with regard to new technologies, but in the end you will need both - experience and the openers to walk new ways - and bring both together. So, in the end this is a team approach, and this is what I actually like most about digitalization beside being innovative is the interaction between people and bring all these opportunities and potentials together. 

It is important to have the right mix of employees, a real team! 
Yürki-Erik Voss, Siemens Machine Tool Systems

K. L.: I can imagine that staying close to the customer is probably being the most important point for mutually successful future of digitalization. What exactly is Siemens doing to stay close to the customer?

Y.-E. V.: 
Staying close to the customer is always to a certain degree a challenge for a big company. We have very good long-term relationship with the machine tool builders, sometimes going back the whole 60 years. There we are very good, customers rely on us and we rely on them, and that works fine.

The challenge comes when we discuss the application itself to the machine tool user. That is not our direct busines partner. But it’s extremely important to understand what they want, what they feel, what they need in future.

We have different ways to address this, so number one of course media like CNC4you, like what we are doing today.  We use our Digital Experience Centers here, and we are in one of those today, where we experience ourselves what does it mean to use a machine tool and what kind of ways are there to improve and to get more productive.

We have – on top of that – a big team of user supporters, globally, that support customers in their way how to use Sinumerik controls … and of course we are always looking for new ways to interact with customers, one of them of course social media, and all the ways of “digitalization” in communication.

I’m really looking forward to use that in the upcoming years to improve, to get more feedback from customers and in the end bringing more value to our customers.

K. L.: Great! Thank you so much for the interview!

Y.-E. V: You’re welcome! Thank you, Mrs. Lamsa!  

I can only say to all customers: You are cordially invited! We like to show what we have learned and pass it on.
Yürki-Erik Voss, Siemens Machine Tool Systems


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