Smart products from smart factories: Digitalization is accelerating innovation and transforming every industry

Smart products from smart factories: Digitalization is accelerating innovation and transforming every industry

By: Chuck Grindstaff President Siemens PLM Software


At the same time that innovation cycles are getting shorter, products are becoming more complex. We are talking about everything from smart automobiles to smart watches. Now, the same technology that is transforming products is also transforming the way products are made.

Manufacturing is becoming smarter with maturing additive manufacturing technology that is changing the fabrication process. Smart sensors and controllers are enabling flexible automation and advanced robotics co-existing with humans are enhancing efficiency.


What was possible five or ten years ago, and even what's possible today is only scratching the surface of where these technologies will be in the very near future. The implications are profound for our more than 140,000 Siemens PLM customers. And of course, we have many customers that are leading this industrial transformation to a digital enterprise in order to realize innovation. Local Motors is a fascinating example of a technology company transforming the way we think about manufacturing. Their platform combines global co-creation with local micro-manufacturing to bring hardware innovations – like 3D-printed cars and other products – to market at unprecedented speed.


Digitalizing the business model


Digitalization is the digital thread that weaves information throughout the entire value chain from ideation through the manufacturing process and into product utilization. And it’s the digital twin, an accurate digital representation of a product, its production process or its operation, which allows you to see into the future to visualize products as well as predict and optimize real world performance. Only a fully digitalized business model with a consistent digital thread and accurate digital twin has the power and flexibility to tightly integrate the core activities, speed up processes and optimize production operations.


For One Aviation, an extreme example of the value of the digital twin is a rendering that enabled them to showcase the advanced technology inside their aircraft. This rendering was developed jointly with One Aviation, Siemens, HP, Lightworks and NVIDIA and is a unique mock-up using NX i-Ray+ life-like rendering, taking advantage of light reflections, material definitions and scene setups


Caption: The digital twin – visualizing the real world – art imitating life, imitating art


Read more about building a digital company in Pictures of the Future.

Transforming product development


Smart products have become extremely complex and require a new approach to design utilizing systems-driven approach based on digital models integrating all mechanical, electronics and software design elements. Through these digital models, product performance is simulated and optimized digitally, without physical prototypes.


3D printing is bringing about an industrial revolution in design and manufacturing, where products are printed, not machined. Creativity and innovation in product development is no longer constrained by traditional fabrication processes. Products are designed using volumes and constraints to define the performance parameters. Advanced CAD tools digitally optimize the design for objectives like strength, weight and physical performance.


HP recently introduced the world’s first production-ready commercial 3D printing system. Based on HP Multi Jet Fusion™ technology, the new 3D prototyping and manufacturing system will ignite the next industrial revolution by producing superior quality physical parts up to 10 times faster and at half the cost of current 3D print systems. Siemens is collaborating with HP to support Multi Jet Fusion technology elevating 3D printing from prototyping to production.


Transforming manufacturing


Once a design has been digitally validated, simulation of the production process closes the loop between ideation and realization. Production can be simulated and verified virtually to define how the devices will connect and work together. This extends the digital thread through the manufacturing stage to actually specify how this product should be made before physically commissioning the factory floor.


The Digital Enterprise Software Suite – The Siemens holistic difference


As digitalization continues to accelerate innovation, Siemens portfolio is evolving to ensure we are helping our customers transform their operations from ideation to realization and utilization and from the top floor to the shop floor into a digital enterprise with the most complete solution portfolio for digitalization in the industry, the Digital Enterprise Software Suite.


Published On: June 21st, 2016