To lead in manufacturing, U.S. must lead in digital

To lead in manufacturing, U.S. must lead in digital

By: Raj Batra, President, Siemens Digital Factory Division, U.S.

 

 

Companies that don’t give value to society shouldn’t exist. The most competitive business strategies strive to make a difference. This is what Siemens believes, and why the company launched its Business to Society platform. Blog posts in this series, like the one below, capture a key part of what Business to Society means to Siemens: It’s about addressing some of America’s biggest challenges as part of the company’s core business strategy. Siemens’ 50,000 U.S. employees are making a difference by helping to close the skills gap, supporting U.S. R&D, reducing carbon emissions, driving breakthrough medical innovations, and advancing America’s security, infrastructure and economy. Learn more at: https://www.siemens.com/us/en/home/company/sustainability/business-to-society.html

 

In a recent op-ed in Time, Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens AG, presented a strong case for why workers should not fear the rise of industrial robots: “…humans andmachines,” he wrote, “will each play a critical role in manufacturing’s success.”

 

What I particularly took note of was the proof that Joe provided: None other than the most digital factory in the world, Amberg Electronics Plant in Germany.

 

There has been concern that digital manufacturing will negatively impact our greatest strength as manufacturers – our workers. Yet in Amberg, modern machines haven’t eliminated jobs; they’ve changed them. The same numbers of workers – retrained for digital manufacturing – has increased productivity by more than 1,000 percent and has increased product quality to an incredible 99.99 percent.

 

Why is this relevant as we approach National Manufacturing Day? Because it shows us what we need to do to continue strengthening U.S. manufacturing: We need to combine the very best in human and artificial intelligence. This is about investing in workers to help them acquire modern manufacturing skills while also striving to make our factory floors as digital as possible. If we do that, digital manufacturing will not only be a win for workers; it will change the game for efficiency, productivity and today’s key factor – speed to market. So far, Siemens’ customers implementing a digital strategy are experiencing up to a 50 percent reduction in time-to-market, up to 30 percent reduction in engineering costs, and up to 50 percent increased throughput.

 

Now the question is: How do more U.S. manufacturers transition to becoming digital enterprises? Let’s start with just one piece of this: data.

Data is the most valuable raw material in the world, and the sheer volume of it is growing by leaps and bounds every day. Almost all of the world’s data was created in the past couple years.

But here’s the thing: Very little of this data was used in any meaningful way.

 

This is why one of the most powerful investments U.S. manufacturers can make is to gain access to their data in order to inform better decisions about their machines and their operations.

 

This in no way requires an operational overhaul. Taking out every piece of legacy equipment is not necessary to be a digital manufacturer. For example, MindSphere, our open operating system for the internet of things, connects easily to legacy infrastructure. You can connect a machine to MindSphere and get data into the cloud within 15 minutes..

 

Pursuing digital enterprises will benefit companies of all sizes – and it’s a journey. There’s a stepwise migration every manufacturer can make, from making a smart investment in robotics, to pursuing the digital twin, to connecting machines to the cloud.

 

Each step along the way makes a manufacturer more competitive. And as more businesses take these steps, U.S. manufacturing also gains an edge in our competitive global economy.


Earlier posts in this series:

Introducing our New Business to Society platform – Judy Marks, CEO, Siemens USA

 

Why Robots Will Improve Manufacturing Jobs – Joe Kaeser, CEO, Siemens AG

 

Become Part of a New Energy System – Lisa Davis, Member of the Managing Board

 

How We Can Strengthen U.S. Power Infrastructure – John Kovach, Global Head, Distributed Energy Systems

 

Published On: October 4th, 2017