demystifying digitalization

Demystifying digitalization

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November 4, 2020

How digitalization can solve the auto industry’s most pressing challenges

To successfully pivot to the upcoming electric vehicle ecosystem, auto manufacturers need to think bigger than using tech like the Internet of Things or cloud computing. They need to put digital at the core of their operations to introduce new products with true agility - and they need to start the digitalization journey yesterday.

The automotive industry is facing a range of historic challenges. With each passing year, pressure is growing for manufacturers to offer more sustainable, fuel efficient vehicles as well as commercially viable electric cars. Furthermore, vehicles grow more interconnected and computerized by the day, posing complex design and service challenges. On the other hand, the incorporation of computers in vehicles also promises a strong advantage to companies that can deliver the greatest value to customers with data-driven products.

 

Meanwhile, more and more consumers are participating in car sharing, prompting automotive companies to re-examine how they can remain profitable despite falling demand. The steady advance toward smart, autonomous vehicles also makes it imperative that manufacturers prioritize innovation and have the capacity to gracefully pivot to entirely new product categories. And of course, COVID-19 has demonstrated that the entire market can be turned on its head seemingly overnight. This shows with impressive clarity that flexibility in the adaptability of cost structures is becoming a competitive factor

 

There is no question that digitalization will be key to automotive success in the years ahead. Companies that holistically embrace digital technologies and put them at the core of their operations will be more agile, more innovative, and able to introduce new, better quality products and new digital service offerings in faster time frames.

 

In this article, we’ll explore a few key examples of how digital enterprises in the automotive space will have an invaluable advantage on their competitors.

 

Moving with true agility

Like many industries, the automotive industry is evolving at a record pace. The changes expected of automotive companies are larger and more challenging than anything we’ve seen in decades and possibly even in living memory. Companies need to be able to innovate and retrofit existing operations like never before to remain competitive as the ecosystem of the electric car becomes commonplace. But efficiently pivoting to provide quality products in radically new categories is easier said than done.

 

A holistic embrace of digital technologies will prove essential in creating the agility needed to transition successfully. As an example, digital twins will be a key part of this process. By leveraging the Internet-of-Things, cloud computing, AI and advanced data analytics, companies can create highly-accurate digital twins of their products, production, and value chain at large.

 

This offers an unprecedented level of transparency into everything from new product designs to day-to-day operations and the performance of products in real-time. It creates truly endless opportunities for optimization. As an example, a manufacturer could design, test, prototype and predict the performance of a new vehicle entirely virtually - all of which dramatically reduces the number of prototypes needed to develop a new car.

 

Combining product design, production design and service into one value flow

As competition tightens while consumers buy fewer cars, it’s crucial that manufacturers be able to deliver better products even as they transition to new categories. It will be imperative that automotive companies deliver exceptional value not only with new vehicles, but across a vehicle’s entire life cycle.

 

Digitalization provides an elegant, comprehensive solution to this problem by enabling manufacturers to combine product design, production design, and service into one value flow. Traditionally, these functions have been siloed into distinct domains. With digital twins of real-life vehicles, manufacturing facilities, and new designs alike, companies can create better products with insights from a wealth of data at every point in a vehicle’s life cycle.

 

At a digital enterprise, it becomes possible to predict the performance of a vehicle before it’s built and design new vehicles with real-time insights from driver behavior and the performance of millions of vehicles. As an example, an engineering team could leverage insights from an AI that is analyzing maintenance data from dealerships around the world on a specific car model. With next-generation data analytics, companies can understand and improve the performance of their products in a manner that would not have been possible.

 

Putting digital technologies at the core of automotive operations

The potential of technologies like AI and the Internet-of-Things alone are very impressive. But it’s not enough to use one or two of these emergent technologies. If automotive manufacturers are serious about boosting throughput, quality, and efficiently pivoting to new categories of vehicles, they need to synergistically combine technologies like the IoT, cloud, data analytics and so forth to unlock the full benefits.

 

In recent years, Siemens customers, both OEM’s and Suppliers have been leading significant automotive digitalization projects worldwide. Core of those initiatives has been to develop and implementing digital cloud-based platforms. One key goal in this endeavor has been to leverage existing on-premise IT-Infrastructure to further optimize engineering and factory-operations.  

 

However, companies quickly realized that without comprehensive digital twins of their products and their production, they were only scratching the surface of the value offered by the cloud. As a result, Siemens worked in collaboration with customers to create digital twins that offered deeper transparency by leveraging data analytics, closer integration, and identified opportunities for optimization across the entire value chain by creating closed loops between engineering and production.

 

Becoming the carmakers of tomorrow

It’s clear that automotive companies are facing unprecedented challenges. While daunting, the disruption occurring in the industry is also an opportunity for tremendous growth - but only if manufacturers can move with agility and efficiency. Digitalization will prove key to making that happen. Manufacturers need to look very carefully at their current strategy and ask themselves if they are doing enough today to digitalize for the market of tomorrow.

Most any A&D executive will agree that digitalization is key to long-term success. However, many organizations have not prioritized digitalization or they haven’t crafted a concrete plan for their digitalization journey. The difference between first-movers and others will be billions in revenue and vast gains in market share...so what are you doing today to position yourself for digitalization success?

Compared to other industries, aerospace and defense firms have quickly embraced digitalization as the future of the sector. While many leading companies are already unlocking the benefits of cutting-edge technologies like the Internet of things, digital twins, AI and data analytics, few organizations have comprehensively capitalized on digitalization.

 

With growing pressure to develop more-electric aircraft, reduce time-to-market and quickly adapt to changing regulations, A&D firms need every advantage they can get to move with agility. In this article, we’ll explore a few examples of how digitalization is radically reshaping the A&D industry.

 

Understanding the entire product lifecycle with the Internet of things and digital twins

One of the biggest challenges in the aerospace industry is efficiently designing, manufacturing and maintaining incredibly complex products and aircraft. Businesses must maximize profit margins all while complying with the latest standards and regulations to deliver products that can perform in a broad range of extreme conditions. With the Internet-of-Things and digital twins, aerospace and defense companies gain a huge advantage in this area.

 

With various sensors and IoT devices, companies can track the status of every single component in an aircraft. In doing so, they can rapidly generate extraordinary amounts of data which can then be used to create digital twins to study the performance and status of every aircraft in a given fleet. These digital twins are highly accurate digital representations of real-life assets, products, aircraft, machinery, production processes and even fleets.

 

This offers aerospace manufacturers an unprecedented look at how their aircraft perform over the products’ lifetimes, opening up a wealth of opportunities for streamlining product design, production design, improving quality and even optimizing maintenance schedules. Let’s explore these opportunities a little further.

 

Engineering for excellence and reducing time-to-market

A large inefficiency in the design of new aerospace and defense products is the process of quality testing and certification. Between the stringent safety standards of this industry and the complexity of the products, manufacturers typically must go through an expensive and time-consuming process perfecting new designs or changes to existing designs.

 

With comprehensive, high-fidelity digital twins of a component, engineers can design, test, and prototype any new design entirely virtually. Furthermore, they can utilize nearly instantaneous access to real-life data gathered by IoT devices in manufacturing facilities, airports, in-flight aircraft, and anywhere else their products may be found. By harnessing the expansive, rich datasets gathered by the IoT and pairing it with next-generation analytics and AI, engineers can predict the performance of new designs like never before.

 

This incredible understanding of products allows the design phase to be completed with significantly greater efficiency, boosting quality and identifying design flaws that may have gone unnoticed with traditional tools. By pairing digital twins of a product with digital twins production design, manufacturers can take this efficiency to the next-level with a streamlined, optimized production process.

 

With this platform, companies can considerably improve time-to-market, first time quality, mean time for new production introduction, and on-time delivery. In fact, with the use of these tools, one of our clients, an aircraft engine manufacturer, was able to reduce the time for engineering changes to be implemented on the shop floor from a full week to just half an hour.

 

Using data analytics for predictive maintenance

One of the most impressive capabilities of a digital aerospace enterprise is the ability to optimize services across a product’s entire lifecycle. In addition to engineering better products in a shorter amount of time, the IoT and data analytics allow businesses to actually predict when an aircraft needs to be serviced for optimal performance. By monitoring an aircraft’s performance and status in real-time, a company could prepare for any necessary repairs or maintenance before the aircraft has even landed.

 

Thinking more broadly, an aerospace company could completely rethink maintenance schedules around a digital platform, even eliminating the need for manual inspections. A maintenance team can receive a notification for any component when it falls below certain quality thresholds and avert disaster by fixing issues before they occur. In an industry where maintenance is such an enormous expense and time sink, this offers aerospace companies tremendous cost-savings and better service for their customers.

 

Will your organization be a first-mover?

Digitalization is a journey - it’s not something any organization can achieve overnight. However, the short-term and long-term gains of putting digital technologies at the core of your A&D business are enormous. The businesses that move first to capitalize on these technologies will rapidly outpace those with slower, more expensive and rigid processes for designing, manufacturing and servicing products.

 

Most any A&D executive will agree that digitalization is key to long-term success. However, many organizations have not prioritized digitalization or they haven’t crafted a concrete plan for their digitalization journey.

 

The difference between first-movers and others will be billions in revenue and vast gains in market share...so what are you doing today to position yourself for digitalization success?

With growing pressure to do more with less and boost profit margins, manufacturers can’t afford any lack of transparency in production. However, tracking materials at a facility handling thousands of units per minute is anything but easy. Siemens real-time locating systems, SIMATIC RTLS, offer a cutting-edge solution for tracking products, tools and materials with extraordinary accuracy.

As manufacturing gets more and more complex, one of the biggest challenge companies face is materials handling, especially keeping track of materials. But it only gets more difficult as we strive to decrease time-to-market, improve quality while cutting costs, and create flexible production environments.

 

With growing pressure to do more with less and boost profit margins, manufacturers can’t afford any lack of transparency in production. However, tracking materials at a facility handling thousands of units per minute is anything but easy. Manufacturers need an accurate, flexible and cost-effective solution for tracking materials. Siemens real-time locating systems, SIMATIC RTLS in combination with Location Intelligence, offer a cutting-edge solution for tracking products, tools and materials with extraordinary accuracy.

 

Eliminate search times

SIMATIC RTLS works by attaching a transponder to any relevant object such as a tool, vehicle, workpiece, or automated robot within a facility. These transponders can then be tracked in real-time using anywhere within company premises with Location Intelligence, by pairing them with infrastructure devices at fixed locations called gateways. Location Intelligence enabled SIMATIC RTLS can achieve real-time tracking accurate to the centimeter level, eliminating search times and giving manufacturers an unparalleled level of transparency into the flow of materials on the plant floor and grounds.

 

Additionally, Location Intelligence communicates the location of all relevant objects to higher level systems in real-time. This makes it a highly effective solution for navigating material flows, controlling mobile robots and vehicles, monitoring component use, and documenting the final product assembly. If a material or device moves outside pre-defined parameters, users can receive a notification immediately to fix the problem and prevent costly downtime or quality issues.

 

View the historical path of materials

Traditionally, the flow of materials and products within a facility has been a bit of a blind spot for manufacturers. With Location Intelligence enabled SIMATIC RTLS, manufacturers gain an incredibly detailed look at how materials are passing through their facility. Users can track the flow of materials over time, getting comprehensive data sets that allow them to identify bottlenecks, drive greater efficiency, or improve quality.

 

With a granular and extraordinarily accurate look at how materials, robotics and products are moving through a facility, manufacturers can create more efficient, optimized production designs.

 

Optimize automation with intelligent material handling

To get the most out of automation and smart manufacturing solutions, manufacturers need to provide robotics and AI with accurate information relevant to their functions. That includes location data. With highly accurate real-time monitoring of robotics, materials, and other relevant objects, manufacturers can create systems that automatically adjust to meet shifting materials needs.

 

For example, Location Intelligence enabled SIMATIC RTLS can be programmed to identify when material supply is running low in a specific area, tapping robotic vehicles to compensate in order to maintain smooth production. In other words, materials can be intelligently managed on the plant floor in real-time to drive greater efficiency and maximize throughput - all without user input past the initial set-up.

 

Unparalleled transparency and insights

In a highly fluid and competitive marketplace, manufacturers need every tool they can get to operate with efficiency and flexibility. In virtually every manufacturing setting, greater visibility and transparency is indispensable for driving flexibility and efficiency. Our solution provides an elegant solution for tracking objects anywhere on company premises that can be easily modified for new production designs.

 

The Siemens solution offers the dynamic, precise real-time location tracking necessary for Industry 4.0. Operating a digital enterprise without such a system is like working while blindfolded. The time to implement Location Intelligence enabled SIMATIC RTLS is now.

Food and beverage producers need to recognize that when it comes to digitalization, it's not a question of whether they can afford it - it's a question of whether they can afford to wait. Digitalized producers will be more agile, more efficient, more innovative, and drive record profits. What's stopping your business?

For years, the food and beverage industry has remained relatively unaffected by digital disruption. However, changing consumer demands and other market forces are putting increasing pressure on food and beverage producers to rethink the way they do business.

 

Consumer demands are changing faster than ever, with new products and trends evolving by the day. The coronavirus pandemic underlines just how fast and radically consumer demand can change. The rush for canned goods, the meat shortages, and rise in demand for foods perceived as beneficial to the immune system exemplify how quickly the market can be turned on its head.

 

However, consumer demands were already rapidly evolving and will continue to do so once the pandemic has passed. Unfortunately, changing demand is just one of many challenges that F&B producers have to contend with. Producers also need to stay abreast of increasingly competitive markets, supply shortages, shrinking profit margins, evolving regulations and more.

 

In brief, food and beverage manufacturers need comprehensive solutions for improving quality, driving efficiency, and becoming more agile. Digital transformation is without a doubt the answer to these challenges. According to the World Economic Forum, “to survive disruption and thrive in the digital era, incumbents need to become digital enterprises, rethinking every element of their business.”

 

Digital transformation will completely reshape the F&B industry - the only question is whether your organization will be at the vanguard or playing catch-up. Read on to learn more about how digital transformation addresses specific challenges in F&B.

 

Creating truly flexible supply chains

Whether it’s changing demand, supply shortages, new regulations, or expanding into new markets, F&B supply chains are constantly in flux. One of the biggest challenges in this space is efficiently and rapidly creating new production designs. F&B producers need to be able to create new production designs in a fast, cost-efficient fashion so that they can get products to market faster without sacrificing quality.

 

A digital thread for our production design is invaluable in this effort. In short, a digital thread for production design allows companies to virtually design and commission new lines. Engineers can test out different production processes, visualize and analyze new machines, and even prototype products virtually. The result is a fast, highly efficient process for designing new production with fewer errors in machines and products alike. In fact, we recently partnered with Unilever to create digital twins that reduced their innovation launch and response time by 80%.

 

In an era where time-to-market can be the difference between losing or gaining billions in market share, such flexibility in a supply chain is vital.

 

Creating better quality products

In a crowded, competitive market space with razor-thin profit margins, it is absolutely crucial that F&B producers consistently offer quality products. However, maintaining quality while increasing speed and flexibility is anything but easy.

 

Digital transformation can greatly ease this process while allowing F&B producers to reach unprecedented quality standards. For example, Siemens offers AI visual defect detection that is dramatically faster and more effective than traditional visual inspection. AI systems can identify upwards of 99% of visual defects and automatically sort products accordingly.

 

Furthermore, smart sensors with the Internet-of-Things can be utilized to provide unparalleled insight into the quality of materials and environmental factors throughout the entire supply chain. Sensors in a truck transporting produce could closely monitor factors such as temperature and humidity, automatically creating alerts when these factors exceed acceptable quality thresholds.

 

Going a step further, all of the data gathered through these processes can be collected and analyzed with Siemens cloud-based operating system Mindsphere. By leveraging next-generation analytics and AI, producers can identify points in the supply chain that are prone to producing defects or spot other opportunities for improving production. In many cases, these trends are invisible to the human eye or traditional analytics.

 

Continuous optimization for maintaining a competitive advantage

In today’s fast-paced marketplace, F&B producers need to be thinking two steps ahead of the competition. It’s not enough to have the best products and production for the current environment. Producers must be able to adapt on a dime to changing markets without dropping the ball in terms of quality or efficiency.

 

By becoming a truly digital enterprise, F&B producers are able to continuously optimize their production and products to stay ahead of the curve. Data gathered across the entire supply chain can be leveraged and fed into digital threads to drive greater value.

 

As an example, sensors on the plant floor and in transportation can gather data that can later be analyzed to unlock greater efficiency. Likewise, consumer feedback and purchasing behavior can be analyzed to improve product packaging, modify recipes, and deliver a better overall experience. Given that much of this data can be gathered and analyzed in real-time or nearly instantaneously, digitalization allows F&B producers to optimize the entire supply chain faster and more comprehensively than ever before.

 

Digital transformation won’t wait

The technology for true digital transformation in the F&B industry already exists. In fact, the technology is becoming more advanced and offering greater potential with every passing day.

 

Unfortunately, many F&B producers are still daunted by the digitalization process or assume they don’t have time to transition to a digital enterprise. However, Siemens is already partnering with F&B producers to help them smoothly and effectively undergo digitalization.

 

F&B producers need to recognize that it’s not a question of whether their organization can become a digital enterprise - it’s a question of whether they can afford to wait. Contact us today to learn more about how we’re helping producers like your company craft a digital strategy for tomorrow.

Did you know that the average food recall takes 57 days after the FDA is notified? Food and beverage producers need a reliable tool to prevent disastrous recalls. With blockchain-enabled traceability from Siemens, they can track and trace any product in a matter of seconds. If you haven't looked into implementing this technology yet...then what are you waiting for?

As food and beverage producers face growing pressure to do more with less, they face a familiar challenge: product recalls. With supply chains expanding across the world and an increased focus on bringing products to market faster than ever, it becomes increasingly difficult to prevent expensive mistakes.

 

In fact, 56% of food and beverage producers report one or more recalls every year. There’s no question that a recall is expensive: on average, a recall costs 10 million dollars in direct expenses and 60 million dollars in indirect costs such as lost sales and brand damage. 

 

One of the most catastrophic effects of a recall is the lasting damage to a company’s reputation and market share. 15% of consumers report that they simply would not buy a product ever again after a recall, while 21% would avoid any product from the same company.

 

Exacerbating this issue is the proliferation of counterfeit food and beverage products. By some estimates, as much as $1.5 trillion worth of counterfeit products are sold every year. Counterfeit products muddy the waters even further, creating further consumer distrust and damaging many national and international brands.

To address these challenges while maintaining efficient, flexible supply chains, F&B producers need a comprehensive solution for accurately tracking and tracing their products. With blockchain technology, F&B producers can unlock an unprecedented level of traceability to quickly respond to recalls, build consumer trust, and more.

 

Save millions in recall damages with lightning fast track and trace

The traditional methods of tracking and tracing defective products are simply too slow. By the time a company is able to identify the source of the defect and locate defective products, it’s often too late to avoid the worst of the losses. A 2017 report from the Department of Health and Human Services reported that food companies took an average of 57 days to recall items after the FDA was notified. Part of why it takes so long is the sluggish nature of manual track and trace methods.

 

With the blockchain, F&B producers can utilize a secure, transparent ledger for every transaction and quality control check in a supply chain. By its very nature, the blockchain is decentralized and encrypted, protecting it from tampering from any party. As a result, every organization involved in a supply chain can rely on the data to accurately and efficiently track products. F&B producers can identify where defective products are in a matter of seconds, avoiding disastrous recalls and saving tens of millions of dollars.

 

Build consumer trust with greater transparency

As millennials slowly become the biggest spenders on F&B products, producers are having to dramatically adjust their strategy to cater to this demographic. One defining characteristic of millennials is their lack of brand loyalty - rather than choosing a product based on the brand, they are more likely to consider features such as whether it is organic, fair-trade, locally-sourced, and even the product’s COfootprint. More than baby boomers or Gen X, they look to brands to provide verifiable data on their products. In fact, 70% of millennials would switch to another brand if it provided data to back product claims, while 86% will pay more for a transparent product.

 

The same technologies that can be used to trace defective products can also be used to give customers insight into the production process and supply chain. Producers can put a QR code on products that consumers can read with an app. In a matter of seconds, consumers can view what raw ingredients are in a product, where each ingredient was sourced, which organizations helped produce it, and so forth. As consumers demand more and more transparency, this tool could prove vital in gaining market share.

 

Turn data into actionable insights with MindSphere and the blockchain-enabled trusted traceability solution from Siemens
By using the Siemens Blockchain enabled Trusted Traceability solution, F&B producers can closely monitor products throughout the entire supply chain. For example, a producer can have a highly accurate record of the temperature and humidity of all their products throughout production, transportation, storage, and so forth. 

 

In combination with MindSphere, Siemens’ cloud-based and open IoT operating system, producers can consolidate all of this data in one place and turn it into meaningful insights. In the event of a defect, a producer can easily identify where the defect occurred by referencing data from their IoT network.

Furthermore, producers can use the solution to get automatic reports when an environment or product falls short of quality thresholds.

 

For an even broader application, the solution can be utilized to analyze data from across the supply chain to identify processes that are liable to producing defects or spot opportunities for further optimization.

 

Entering an era of farm-to-consumer transparency
F&B producers are entering an era of farm-to-consumer transparency. Blockchain-enabled traceability offers an unparalleled ability to create a single-source-of-truth and undisputed record of every transaction in a supply chain. The ability to quickly contain recalls will be game-changing in this industry, let alone the opportunities for building consumer trust and optimizing production.

 

It boils down to one question for F&B producers. If you’re not planning on integrating blockchain-enabled traceability in your supply chain... then what are you waiting for?

It's hard to drive operational efficiency without understanding the true nature of bottlenecks and movement patterns in your facility. The SIMATIC Real-Time Locating System offers a way for manufacturers to track materials, products, and individuals in real-time across the plant floor - and glean crucial insights on how to improve throughput while cutting costs.

For most businesses, the coronavirus pandemic has proved to be one of the most difficult challenges in decades. Manufacturers in particular have faced an array of complex issues with maintaining operations while preventing outbreaks and ensuring adherence to safety protocols.

 

On the one hand, physical distancing and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) usage are vital to keep employees safe and production running smoothly. On the other hand, ensuring that employees abide by these protocols is a logistical nightmare. Last but not least, if someone does test positive for COVID-19, the shutdown of a facility, manual contact tracing, and disinfection/cleaning procedures can be incredibly costly.

 

Manufacturers need a reliable solution to keep their employees safe and healthy while maintaining operations. Siemens’ SIMATIC Real Time Locating System is the answer to this challenge. This advanced platform uses small transponders and gateways to track individuals and materials throughout your facility in real-time. Furthermore, you can leverage cutting-edge analytics to gain crucial insights on the movement of employees and materials within the facility, as well as visualize movement patterns for deeper understanding.

 

In short, SIMATIC RTLS is a state-of-the-art, highly efficient solution for elegantly ensuring physical distancing at your facility. Allow us to elaborate on how it works.

 

Keeping employees safe by ensuring distancing with the SIMATIC Real Time Locating System

With SIMATIC RTLS, companies can assign every employee a wearable transponder that transmits tag ID, location data and timestamps. This information is gathered at infrastructure devices called gateways throughout the facility. The system can then determine if two or more people are too close together. Furthermore, employees will see a visual indicator on their tag warning that they must move further apart.

 

Of course, while workforce distancing is crucial to keep employees safe, there will inevitably be times when employees will pass within 6 feet of one another. For this reason, businesses can tailor the solution to trigger an alarm after a time interval that they deem most appropriate, which is typically 1-10 seconds.

 

The SIMATIC RTLS platform can also be fully tailored to the customers’ needs, such as ensuring transponders are only active in certain areas of a given facility. Likewise, privacy concerns can be easily addressed by encrypting data to make it only available to authorized personnel such as HR.

 

Using smart solutions to anticipate and prevent the spread of dangerous diseases

The biggest concern for the spread of COVID-19 within an organization is any area where people are gathering, especially on a regular basis. SIMATIC RTLS compiles data over time and offers customers unparalleled insight into how employees are moving about within the facility and where they may be congregating. This makes it easy to quickly identify potential hotspots or areas where violations regularly occur, allowing businesses to implement preventative measures before an outbreak.

 

Furthermore, SIMATIC RTLS can be used in combination with camera systems and video analytics to ensure PPE is being used properly. Siemens’ video analytics tools can detect up to 20 people in a frame without occlusions, as well as analyze what they are wearing and how they are acting. If the cameras observe that individuals are wearing proper PPE, the system can suppress alarms, offer a greater leniency period, or otherwise relax physical distancing rules to ensure realistic adherence to safety protocols.

 

Siemens’ video analytics can also be used to ensure employees are wearing typical industrial PPE, such as welding shields, face masks, or helmets. This is valuable as an efficient method of ensuring OSHA compliance independent of COVID-19 concerns.

 

Improve operational efficiency with tracking beyond COVID-19

While COVID-19 is a top concern for many businesses at present, SIMATIC RTLS can be used by manufacturers for a variety of applications including asset tracking and logistics. By granting manufacturers the ability to track products, materials, equipment and personnel in real-time, this platform opens a wealth of options for eliminating bottlenecks and improving throughput. The ability to visualize and analyze data from location tracking makes it easy to identify patterns, gather actionable insights and develop improved processes.

 

To give you an idea of how SIMATIC RTLS is broadly useful in industrial settings, allow us to share how we use the platform at one of our own facilities.

 

How Siemens uses SIMATIC RTLS to keep employees safe and drive efficiency

We first implemented SIMATIC RTLS as a solution for COVID-19 cases at our gas chromatograph plant in Houston. Several employees had tested positive, which meant sending these individuals home for two weeks in self-quarantine as well as rigorous cleaning and disinfection throughout the plant.

 

To keep employees safe and avoid these disruptions, we implemented SIMATIC RTLS with SieTrace to ensure physical distancing of 6 feet among the employees at the facility. All 80 employees at the facility received RTLS tags that display an alarm when employees linger within 6 feet of one another. Additionally, we have been collecting risk scenario data in a database which is then visualized with our SieTrace application.

 

With SieTrace, manufacturers can review detailed reports on violations that may have occurred anywhere from the last few hours to those from several weeks ago. With this information, hotspot areas can be readily identified and addressed. Additionally, contact and path tracing can be done automatically, eliminating the need for imprecise and time-consuming manual contract tracing.

 

Although the platform is currently being used to ensure employees are minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, this facility is also planning on expanding the RTLS system into other use cases such as tracking chemical bottles.

 

Unprecedented challenges require groundbreaking solutions

Virtually no manufacturer had a foolproof response plan for this historic pandemic. To keep our facilities in operation while prioritizing employee safety, manufacturers must look to innovative new solutions. The ability to track the locations of hundreds of employees or more in real-time with accuracy down to centimeters is one such solution. 

 

Any savvy manufacturing leader knows we will continue to face truly difficult challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The question is, what new strategies and tools will you implement to address them?

Did you know that a single cyberattack can cause $18 million in damages for a large manufacturer? As our plants become more digitalized and more employees work from home, industrial security is an issue we simply cannot ignore. What steps are you taking today to ensure your organization stays ahead of rapidly changing cyber threats?

As industrial machines, equipment and systems grow more and more connected, manufacturers are more vulnerable than ever to cyberattacks. The same technologies and platforms that allow companies to drive unparalleled efficiency and quality also increase the risk of crippling cyber-attacks.

 

Malware, traditional cyber-attacks, phishing, and malicious insiders are all disturbingly common threats to manufacturers. Regardless of the variety, cyber-attacks are also enormously expensive. A recent study from Frost & Sullivan reported that on average, a large manufacturer loses $10.7 million in direct costs and $8.1 million in indirect costs from a single attack.

 

Cybersecurity has already been growing more important, but it is especially crucial with record numbers of employees working remotely. Combined with the steady advance of digitalization in industrial facilities, it is clear that manufacturers need a comprehensive, state-of-the-art solution to protect against cyber threats. Siemens Industrial Security Services answers this challenge, paving the way for a safe, seamless and secure digitalization journey.

 

A three step process to securing your industrial network

Protecting complex industrial OT systems from the evolving, myriad threats of cyber-attacks is not a simple process. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution - every network will have unique vulnerabilities and characteristics that must be accounted for. Manufacturers must take great care to ensure that they are carefully reviewing their network and OT systems from top to bottom and rigorously safeguarding them against potential threats.

 

Siemens Industrial Security Services follows our end-to-end approach with a three-step process for ensuring your OT system is protected. The first step is a security assessment. For most manufacturers, cybersecurity is simply not their area of expertise - and compromise is not an option when it comes to protecting your network.

 

Our security service experts comb through your network for specific vulnerabilities and security risks with assessments aligned with IEC 62443 and ISO 27001 international standards. We also ensure the recommendations meet your policies, plant-specific network, and manufacturing processes. Altogether, this stage provides you with a clearly defined roadmap for safeguarding your network against cybersecurity threats.

 

Building a state-of-the-art security program

Once we have a comprehensive understanding of your network and any security gaps, we are able to get to work building a state-of-the-art security solution. We implement proven, cutting-edge security solutions that are adapted to fit seamlessly into an automation environment.

 

Our experts use tools from well-known and respected organizations in OT security and make sure they are properly implemented to protect your network against threats without interfering with daily processes. From cybersecurity training to automation firewalls and routine data hygiene, our team ensures your network has rock-solid protection against threats of all varieties.

 

Malware never sleeps - and neither should your cybersecurity

No organization on Earth is immune to cyber-attacks. One of the biggest challenges in cybersecurity is staying abreast of rapidly evolving cyber threats. Even the most advanced security systems require continual, routine updates to ensure protection against the latest malware and other threats.

 

Furthermore, the rapid technological advances and digitalization occurring in the manufacturing sector can easily create new vulnerabilities in otherwise secure networks. To keep your network safe, it is crucial to regularly reassess and update your cybersecurity platform - as well as monitor for new threats.

 

In the optimization phase, Siemens works with your organization to continuously adapt your security platform to stay ahead of new threats, technologies and regulations. Siemens offers end-to-end monitoring for proactive protection, vulnerability and patch management, and remote incident handling to quickly address any issues. Lastly, Siemens is able to monitor legacy equipment across different vendors, making it easy and flexible to keep your network secure.

 

One of the most impressive tools in our optimization portfolio is industrial anomaly detection. In short, this tool passively monitors industrial automation equipment for anomalies. By using this tool in combination with AI and machine learning, it can rapidly identify and flag suspicious behavior for further investigation. As the tool does not interact whatsoever with the automation, there is no risk of harming equipment or otherwise interfering with production.

 

Siemens - the trusted partner for industrial security solutions

Manufacturers are spoiled for choice when it comes to industrial security partners. But there’s a reason why leading manufacturers have chosen Siemens for a process this important. Siemens brings a truly unique blend of proven expertise in not only industrial security, but also first-hand experience with digitalization and manufacturing at our own innovative facilities.

 

As a leader in next-generation automation technologies, there is no partner better suited to bring your facility to industry 4.0 while also protecting it against tomorrow’s cyber threats. In an area where compromise is not an option, it’s hard to imagine settling for anything less.

One of the most common missteps with implementing innovative new technologies is losing sight of the desired business results. It's not enough to have the most advanced AI platform in manufacturing - you have to apply it in a manner that helps you improve your unique products while driving true efficiency.

For all the buzz around data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), manufacturers have hardly scratched the surface with these technologies. Thus far, analytics and AI have seen relatively limited application in manufacturing. While their utility is indisputable, few companies have considered how they may holistically integrate these technologies into their process to unlock greater value.

 

A couple of great examples are the areas of quality and predictive maintenance. AI and analytics allow us to achieve tremendous efficiency in these spaces, delivering better products for our customers while dramatically streamlining the manufacturing process.

 

How AI and Analytics enable predictive maintenance

For most manufacturers, downtime is the single greatest source of lost production. While all downtime is expensive, unplanned downtime is especially damaging and can easily lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars lost per hour. The challenge is accurately predicting when each machine will need maintenance across large fleets.

 

AI provides a highly effective solution to this challenge. Machine learning algorithms can analyze large, complex data sets and identify patterns or trends that otherwise could not be recognized. As a result, AI can help manufacturers predict machine failure and breakdowns well in advance and prevent costly downtime.

 

Leveraging video and data analytics to improve quality

Defect detection has always been one of the biggest challenges in manufacturing. The reality is that the human eye will only ever spot a portion of defects passing through the facility. While it remains to be seen whether AI and analytics could achieve a defect-free facility, there is no doubt that these technologies can dramatically improve detection.

 

Study after study has shown that AI can identify more than 99% of defects before they leave the plant floor. As an example, a food production facility may use video analytics to inspect produce, and sorting unwanted materials. Alternatively, video could be utilized to measure splashes in the welding process across a fleet of machines and mark products that may require further inspection. In brief, AI offers the ability to rapidly identify defects or unwanted materials and sort accordingly with an astonishing degree of accuracy.

 

Beyond defect detection, existing process data can be used to create machine learning algorithms to predict the quality of new product designs. This can shave large amounts of time of effort off the testing process, saving money and allowing businesses to bring products to market considerably faster. As time-to-market grows ever more important, this technology offers a significant advantage for manufacturers.

 

In short, video and data analytics in combination with AI provide a seamless, highly effective tool for boosting quality and driving efficiency in the manufacturing process.

 

Manufacturers need an innovative, value-driven partner for analytics and AI

One of the most common missteps with any new technology is losing sight of the desired business results. AI and analytics are both incredibly powerful tools, but it’s important to remember that they are tools all the same. They only hold value if they are applied properly and in service to a greater goal.

 

Siemens offers holistic experience with analytics and AI and we offer comprehensive expertise for digitalizing and optimizing various manufacturing processes. We have a proven track record of implementing and fine-tuning analytics tools to deliver incredible results for our clients.

 

It’s not enough to merely have analytics technology. Manufacturers need a partner who will help them unlock the greatest possible value from analytics and AI by producing better products more efficiently. If you want to learn more about how Siemens can help your organization get the most from these tools, contact us today.

Sure, the technologies at the core of digital transformation like AI and predictive analytics are extraordinary. But at the end of the day, savvy leaders know every technology is a tool - no more, no less. To successfully transition to a digital enterprise, it's crucial to understand the underlying business challenges, the desired business outcomes, and how to best use technology to get there.

With each passing day, more and more business leaders are recognizing the benefits of digital transformation. Executives are coming to understand the full potential of putting digital technologies at the center of their business processes to drive efficiency, agility and greater profitability overall.

 

However, the cost, time, effort and time required for a true digital transformation can be daunting. The technology is already here for digital transformation, but few organizations have realized their full potential. Furthermore, precious few business leaders have a concrete plan for undergoing this significant transition.

 

According to Accenture, “only 13 percent of businesses have realized the full impact of their digital investments, enabling them to achieve cost savings and create growth. The optimal mix of technologies could save large companies up to $16 billion.”

 

In the rush to become digital enterprises, systems integrators and similar businesses will play a crucial role in assisting transformation.


Gartner reports that “By 2021, 90% of global organizations will rely on system integrators, agencies and channel partners to design, build and help implement their digital experience strategies.”

 

Siemens is already working with businesses across the globe to facilitate their successful digitalization. We offer our client’s unique value in that we operate our own factories around the world. As a result, we have firsthand experience with the same challenges our customers are facing. Our experiences are embedded in the projects and solutions we deliver, creating tremendous value for our customers. With deep experience in industry verticals, automation, operational technology, software and services, we can offer unparalleled expertise when it comes to digital transformation.

 

Digital transformation must be guided by clearly defined business outcomes

Choosing the right partner for the digitalization process is crucial. With a process as complex as digital transformation, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Gartner reports that “Successful digital business service engagements are defined by the client business outcomes they seek to achieve, not by the specific technologies and processes providers employ to enable those outcomes. The market, unfortunately, is more focused on the latter.”

 

The advanced technologies at the heart of digitalization are extraordinary, and it’s not hard to find impressive case studies on the cost-savings, quality improvements, and efficiencies gained with them. However, digitalization partners must always focus on the desired outcomes before assessing what technologies will comprise the best solution.

 

There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to the digitalization journey. Technologies that are invaluable for one organization may provide marginal utility at best for another. At Siemens, we design and implement solutions that support clearly defined business objectives. The result is measurable business outcomes that strategically address your unique challenges.

 

A trusted partner for collaborative, end-to-end digital transformation

The Siemens Digital Enterprise and Digital Services group in the United States is the trusted partner to customers in digital transformation projects across OT and IT. We offer dedicated consulting, development, integration, implementation and optimization services that support your journey to a digital enterprise. Our broad portfolio of services and digital assets allow us to deliver data-enabled digital solutions that create measurable business value and a positive return on investment.

 

With our extensive digitalization expertise and comprehensive industry knowledge, our experts support you on your journey to become a digital enterprise. The three stages of consulting, implementation/integration, and optimization are based on our end-to-end approach, in which we are there to support you from the start of your digitalization project through to the stage of continuous improvement. We work with you to develop the best possible approach and coordinate the solution that addresses your company’s specific needs.

 

Crafting a road map to get from where you are to where you need to be

The digital transformation journey starts with analyzing the current level of digitalization. On that basis, we then develop a digitalization strategy that’s tailored toward the customer’s unique needs. The output of that work is a clear roadmap that explains the steps required over a period of time. Digital transformation is not something that happens overnight. It’s a journey that occurs over an extended period. Our team partners with your organization to develop a clearly defined, well-articulated roadmap to guide this complex journey.

 

The next step is to design the individual solution elements and to ensure that it can be implemented and integrated with existing systems and solutions, in order to deliver the strongest business value. As a result, our customers benefit from achieving shorter times to market, greater efficiency and flexibility, and higher product quality.

 

Cybersecurity solutions for digital enterprises

Of course, cybersecurity concerns are of the utmost importance. With the proliferation of the Internet-of-Things, companies must take great precautions to ensure that increasingly digitalized processes are secure from any threats.

 

To protect our customers, we offer a comprehensive portfolio for industrial security services including security assessments, scanning services, consulting and security monitoring services. Furthermore, we provide solutions for anti-virus, whitelisting, network segmentation, endpoint protection, anomaly detection, vulnerability detection and management capabilities. Altogether, these solutions ensure your digitalized operation can run smoothly without fear of data leaks, malware interruptions or other security breaches.

 

Leveraging analytics and artificial intelligence

Analytics and artificial intelligence are two technologies driving revolutionary changes in manufacturing and business in general. By leveraging these tools, companies can use Siemens Predictive Services to identify machine failures before they occur. Downtimes are expensive, especially when they’re unplanned. The unpredictable failure of an individual section of a production line can put all your production out of action for several days or longer. With Predictive Services, thanks to the accumulated know-how of our service experts combined with cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, you can see into the future and avoid unpleasant surprises through optimized maintenance planning.

 

But our Predictive Services offer value beyond simply averting disaster. This platform offers well-grounded analyses of the condition data, sources of error, and specific recommendations from our experts with insights gleaned from artificial intelligence. As a result, you can not only prevent machine failure, but make holistic changes to reduce maintenance costs and make the entire process more resilient.

 

Oftentimes, digitalization initiatives focus on risk reduction and optimization from the perspective of asset availability. Typical projects emphasize maximum machine uptime while avoiding unplanned downtime. While this is certainly valuable, it falls short of the full potential offered by analytics and AI. Our AI-based solutions can deliver greater business value by increasing throughput, lowering scrap/waste, increasing finished product quality, and/or reducing resource input.

 

It’s time to think bigger and design the future of your business

The AI solution described above is a perfect example of the gap between the potential of a truly digital enterprise and the limited application of these technologies we see today. Many organizations are taking the first steps in capitalizing on the solutions offered by Industry 4.0. However, few businesses grasp the full potential of digital transformation - and even fewer are taking the necessary steps to revolutionize their business processes.

 

What appears to be a small gap now will soon become a staggeringly wide divide. The result will be vastly greater market share, profits, agility, and customer experiences for those that start the transformation journey early. Here at Siemens, we are ready to help you be at the forefront of the digital transformation happening in your industry. The question is, are you ready to design the future of your business?

In a rapidly evolving world with ever-shifting markets, agility is everything. By putting digital technologies at the center of how they operate, businesses can respond to new trends and changes with more agility than ever. Digital transformation isn't about short-term gain - it's about growth and profitability for the long run.

Executives in virtually every industry are facing a turning point. With every passing year, it becomes clear that many traditional business processes are becoming irrelevant or antiquated.

 

The refinement and advancement of technologies such as cloud computing, blockchain, AI, and the Internet-of-Things has set the stage for radical changes in manufacturing, as well as business in general. Over the next several years, we are going to see a tremendous divide between those who digitally transformed their organizations early and those lagging behind.

 

Although virtually every executive understands the importance of technology, many leaders don’t fully understand the revolution that is occurring across entire value chains. Even fewer still have a concrete plan to transform their business processes before the competition. According to Gartner, “Despite the digital transformation hype, 54% of leaders say their organization doesn’t have a clear vision for transformation, and only 11% have scaled digital business transformation.”

 

The businesses that are late to transform will be leaving billions on the table - if not closing their doors. At the same time, initiating change at this scale is anything but easy.

 

Before we dive further into these topics, let’s take a moment to review some basic concepts regarding digital transformation.

 

What Is digital transformation?

In short, digital transformation is the reimagining of business in the digital age. It’s about leveraging cutting-edge technologies to build a business that can move with true agility in response to the breakneck pace at which markets are changing.

 

As part of digital transformation, companies create new business processes or modify existing ones. In many cases, this also includes reshaping customer experiences to meet evolving business and market requirements.

 

The result of digital transformation is becoming a digital enterprise - an organization with digital technology at the center of how it operates. At a digital enterprise, technology is at the core of how it produces products and services, seizes competitive advantages, creates value, and generates revenue.

 

Organizations that successfully transition to digital enterprises gain a tremendous competitive advantage. By putting digital technologies at the center of their processes, they become more economically efficient and more capable of dynamically responding to shifts in the market. Becoming a digital enterprise positions your organization for long-term growth and profitability in a rapidly changing world.

 

Why digital transformation cannot be ignored
If your competitors aren’t already undergoing digital transformation, it won’t be long before they start. Regardless of your sector, digital transformation offers a plethora of opportunities for creating new business models, improving operational efficiency, enhancing customer experiences, and differentiating your products/services, among other benefits.

 

In the automotive industry, companies are becoming more and more focused on providing connected mobility and transportation solutions. Digitally enabled services will prove crucial in the development and manufacturing of software-driven, battery-operated, and artificially intelligent autonomous vehicles.

 

Sectors such as aerospace, defense, and consumer-packaged goods are finding themselves in similar situations. As manufacturers contend with new competitors, technologies, and consumer demands, digitalized processes grow increasingly important.

 

Digital solutions like analytics are dramatically changing how A&D companies design and manufacture products. In CPG, manufacturers are recognizing the tremendous potential for improving operational efficiency with the help of blockchain, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

 

Government entities like the Department of Defense are beginning the process of digital transformation as well. The DoD has already published a detailed transformation strategy, and began their own digitalization projects in 2019. Cornerstones of the strategy include cloud, artificial intelligence, command, control, communications and cybersecurity.

 

The message for leaders is clear: digital transformation is not a question of if, but a question of when. The sooner organizations can digitalize their business, the sooner they reap the benefits of being a holistically digital enterprise.

 

Is your company falling behind?

It’s obvious that digital transformation is a must for success in the years ahead. Unfortunately, most businesses today are not taking full advantage of digital technologies. According to Accenture, “only 13 percent of businesses have realized the full impact of their digital investments, enabling them to achieve cost savings and create growth. The optimal mix of technologies could save large companies up to $16 billion.”

 

Most businesses have a long way to go before they become a truly digital enterprise. Here at Siemens, we are partnering with a variety of leading organizations to facilitate their successful digitalization. Our organization already operates our own factories across the globe. We understand the challenges our customers are facing firsthand - and we have experience addressing those same challenges with cutting-edge technology.

Begin your digital transformation

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Begin your digital transformation with confidence: Our experts have the professional expertise and commitment to support you. Talk to us and let our experts advise you through the consulting, implementation, and optimization phases.