How to become a digital enterprise?

Listed below are the questions most frequently asked about the Digital Enterprise Suite and Industrie 4.0. Simply click on a question to be taken straight to the answer.

Industrie 4.0 focuses on the digitalization of the manufacturing industry as part of the IoT (Internet of Things), while IIC goes further and is more generally formulated – for example, it also addresses healthcare, energy, and IoT itself.

Industrie 4.0:

The future-oriented Industrie 4.0 project forms part of the German Federal Government’s high-tech strategy. The goal of Industrie 4.0 is to develop a forward-looking strategy which prepares the German manufacturing industry for the internet age. Key focus areas include:

  • Horizontal integration of the entire value creation process through corresponding technical IT support
  • Seamless integration of all engineering tools along the entire value creation chain
  • Vertically integrated, networked production systems

For the 2015 Hanover Fair the Industrie 4.0 platform was restructured, led by the German government, resulting in a management group chaired by companies such as Festo, SAP, Siemens, Telekom and the Confederation of German Industry (BDI). The private sector, academia, policy makers, and unions work together under one roof on common goals, such as undertaking pre-competitive activities in the field of Industrie 4.0. The intention is to prompt meaningful coordination, without the wild proliferation of regional regulations, such as those that arose during the initial stages of mobile telecommunication.


  • IIC was founded in March 2014 and its members include technology companies of all sizes, including research establishments, universities, and governmental organizations. Siemens has been a member since January 2015.
  • IIC is a network intended for the exchange of best practices and for promoting the growth of an “Industrial Internet”. It focuses on the accelerated development, adaptation, and extensive use of networked machines and devices as well as intelligent data analysis.

Siemens and Industrie 4.0/IIC:

  • Siemens follows all activities and participates in those relevant to business success – both from a technical and from a geographical perspective.
  • As an international company, Siemens is involved in both IIC and initiatives such as Industrie 4.0 or those from other consortia. The Company has taken a leading role in the newly-founded Industrie 4.0 platform.
  • The wide variety of approaches taken by the various initiatives is stimulating in many respects. For example, fostering cross-border communication and understandings between the initiatives can enormously shorten the path to global perspectives and standards.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry is a worldwide topic. Fundamental discussions on the future of this industry and the importance of digitalization are being held everywhere. These discussions are driven by the challenges being faced around the world, and include topics such as:

  • The need to bring new products to market in increasingly-shorter timeframes
  • The increased flexibility required for the individualization of products and quickly changing markets
  • The efficiency improvements necessary due to the continued desire for shorter development times or savings in resources/energy

There are various international initiatives that are meant to pave the way to the manufacturing of the future. Some examples are the German “Industrie 4.0” and the “Industrial Internet Consortium” (IIC) in the USA. Simultaneously, governments around the world are investing in initiatives to strengthen or revive their manufacturing sectors. These are also areas in which Industrie 4.0 technologies are needed.

  • In Germany, the subject is driven primarily by the government and various associations. Some examples of ways in which the German federal government actively supports Industrie 4.0 are by means of projects for autonomics, production technologies, smart data/smart services and IT security. On these topics, which are decisive for digitalization, there is still a great need for research. The continuation of the efforts being made to strengthen research and innovation must not lose momentum, to ensure that Germany, and Europe as a whole, do not fall behind other regions.
  • In the USA, the subject is addressed by company consortia, for example IIC or the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition.

In addition there are initiatives to strengthen the respective manufacturing industry, e.g.:

  • The U.S. Government is supporting manufacturing innovation through the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), an initiative by President Obama to bring together industry, academia, and government partners to leverage existing resources, collaborate, and co-invest to advance manufacturing innovation and accelerate commercialization.
  • In the Indian peninsula, the “Make in India” program aims to encourage the ovations, simplifying investment, strengthening the manufacturing infrastructure and extending qualifications with the goal of increasing the growth of the Indian manufacturing industry to over ten percent per annum.
  • In China, comprehensive economic reforms by the government have given industry much greater room to maneuver. In the program “Manufactured in China 2025”, innovations are placed at the heart of industrial development – from “Made in China” to “Created/Innovated in China”.

Industrie 4.0 came about as a result of customer requirements and the reason for its existence can be found in their systems. Siemens’ portfolio includes major elements that not only satisfy such requirements, but are capable of being implemented. The Siemens solution for Industrie 4.0 is the “Digital Enterprise”. The path to the digital enterprise comprises four core elements that logically build upon one another:

  • Digital Enterprise Suite – a comprehensive portfolio of software-based systems, developed over the course of 15 years, based on Teamcenter as a collaborative platform. It’s role is to seamlessly integrate Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Manufacturing Execution System/Manufacturing Operations Management (MES/MOM), Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) and „Lifecycle and Data Analytics“. Siemens intends to extend and complete the Digital Enterprise Suite in coming years.
  • Industrial Communication
  • Industrial Security
  • Industrial Services

Siemens has all of these four core elements in its portfolio. These allow customers to invest in future-proof solutions for a step-by-step realization of Industrie 4.0, today.

The primary focus is on customer requirements:

  • Shortened time-to-market through an integrated chain of tools running from product design through to production and subsequent maintenance
  • Increased flexibility through the integration of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Manufacturing Execution System/ Manufacturing Operations Management (MES/MOM), and automation
  • Improved efficiency due to shorter development times and savings in resources and energy

Based on these requirements, in the process and manufacturing industries, Siemens developed a holistic approach designed to intuitively integrate its customers’ value creation chains. And rather than stopping there, Siemens also developed its own value creation chain, featuring seamless technical data interchange with supplier networks. This integration of the value creation chain is only possible by means of digitalization coupled with industrial software. Furthermore, the integration is unique in that it is a single source for know-how regarding industrial sectors and processes, industrial hardware and automation, and the combination of software and data analytics.

Mars Rover: PLM software aided NASA in its development of “Curiosity”. The functions required in a highly challenging environment were determined by advanced simulation – first undertake virtual development and testing, and then build.

Eisenmann, a mid-range German company: PLM software was used for the construction and simulation of a dip coating line for the automobile industry. Provision of the necessary process parameters for optimal programming of this complex plant – three axes for drive, hoisting and rotational movements of various body types and dipping curves.

Amberg is often named as an example of Industrie 4.0. Special characteristics of this facility are:

  • Since opening in 1989, production volume has increased eightfold with almost the same number of employees (approx. 1200)
  • Minimum fault quota (quality level 99.9988 percent)
  • Over 1,000 product variants using SIMATIC control technology
  • Around fifteen million products a year – a product leaves the factory every second
  • From initial production steps to delivery, around 1,000 SIMATIC controllers are used
  • 75 percent of the value creation content is managed by intelligent machines and computers, 25 percent depends on an employee decision with the assistance of information technology (digitalization)

Since many of today’s corporate activities are supported by software, the focus is now on the seamless digitalization of the company’s core processes across the entire product creation, and software tools support this. In the future, no part of the value creation process will be able to exist without its own digital map. This can already be seen in ideas concerning the potential product and continues on with the engineering of the product, its production, its commissioning and its use, and even the new services offered in conjunction with the product or derived from it. One of the main aspects of a digital enterprise is that it seamlessly reproduces its value creation processes in digital form and links these to one another.

The path to the digital enterprise comprises four core elements that logically build upon one another:

The Digital Enterprise Suite a comprehensive portfolio of software-based systems for the discrete manufacturing industry, developed over a 15-year period, which covers all requirements of the industrial value chain. Its backbone is Teamcenter, a software platform for collaborative product data management [= uniform data platform (data backbone) from Siemens]. Teamcenter allows employees anywhere in the world to access the same database for the purpose of seamless and more efficient integration and cooperation. Tecnomatix and NX are used for design and planning. In actual production, products such as the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) SIMATIC IT and the comprehensive Siemens automation and drives offering from the Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) portfolio have proven themselves across the globe.

Industrial Communication – based on Industrial Ethernet and the corresponding SCALANCE network components, open and future-proof PROFINET and OPC UA, and in combination with Industrial Identification – based on a comprehensive spectrum of RFID and optical identification systems. Siemens offers customers a comprehensive solution and service package from an all-in-one provider.

With Industrial security, i.e. IT security for automation, with its “Defense in Depth” concept, Siemens presents a broad portfolio of products and services for industrial use. This portfolio includes plant and network security as well as system integrity.

With the Siemens range of industry services, for example data-based services such as Plant Data Services, Plant Security Services and MindSphere. With Mindsphere, Siemens provides its customers the basis for new, data-based service business models. MindSphere, developed as an open IoT operating system, runs on the SAP HANA cloud platform. Siemens customers and other providers will use MindSphere to develop, extend and operate apps in the cloud. Intelligent data analysis and evaluation can now help to support industrial decision processes, making a decisive contribution to increases in productivity. In this context, for some time now digitalization has not only meant the provision of a fast-growing volume of data generated on a worldwide scale – it now also means collecting data; analyzing its relevant content, so called smart data, deducing conclusions; or even developing completely new business and service models. In the end, MindSphere is clearly creating a great deal of added value.

The digitalization of industry, with links to both the virtual and the real world, not only demands “big data” but also “smart data”, i.e. the intelligent use of data as well as automation and process know-how.

A technical understanding of both of these worlds coupled with a profound comprehension of industry business models is both necessary and advantageous. First and foremost, experienced companies – from automobile manufacturers and electrical technology providers to machine builders – posses this.

It is completely clear that no company can renew its entire software and IT infrastructure overnight. In the end, it’s all about starting in the right place and making the necessary transformation economically viable through a long-term program of migration and renewal. It is better to start with a quick first digital step – by introducing, for example, a common data backbone such as Teamcenter – than to wait for possible new developments or standards.

Cyber security is a major challenge and an important competitive factor in a digitalized economy.Often what is missing is the necessary awareness that inadequate overall strategies for IT security – even in the manufacturing process – can result in great danger. With the “Defense in Depth” concept, Siemens supports companies by thoroughly checking their security strategies and developing effective measures and/or countermeasures.