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BENEFITS OF DIGITAL TOOLS The executives’ guide to digital manufacturing

Oct 17, 2022

The article discusses how digital tools are enabling companies to flourish even while their markets experience singular disruptions & extraordinary challenges. It also highlights the perspective of manufacturing executives who are achieving their strategic objectives by digitally transforming their enterprises. - Sachin Sanghi, Cloud Sales Specialist, Siemens Digital Industries Software

Executives today are aware that the future of manufacturing is digital, which has become a necessary element of a successful manufacturer’s business strategy. Digital tools are essential to solve complex production problems and improve business. Companies that embrace digital manufacturing are realising reduced risks, greater speed-to-market, increased margins and an enhanced market position. Digital manufacturing software creates continuity between innovative product designs and best-in-class performance.

Improving production with digital tools

Whether the manufacturing company is a startup or a well-established multinational, whether one makes nanotechnology, airliner structures or anything in between; recent market conditions have proved that doing business in the same way no longer works. To get and keep the edge, he/she must provide exceptional ingenuity and speed. To drive the business forward – despite volatile and unpredictable market conditions - digital tools become effective change agents for implementing your vision, bringing about:

  • Speed-to-market – Accelerating tasks across all manufacturing disciplines

  • Reduced risks to company reputation – Improving quality and real-time performance feedback across the value chain

  • Increased margins – Fully employing the virtual realm before investing in actual production

  • Industry leadership – Creating innovation efficiencies and continuous improvement

Digital manufacturing has become an existential imperative. New market pressures are compressing the timetable for manufacturing executives to decide how to use digitalisation to their strategic advantage. This reality holds true for any company or industry no matter where one is in the digital transformation journey.

Addressing modern market challenges

Digitalisation promised – and is delivering – the means for manufacturers to thrive in the midst of today’s market conditions:

  • Globalisation is addressed with data infrastructure and digital management that supports design-any-where, build-everywhere initiatives

  • Mass customisation can be accommodated with digital tools that facilitate new flexibility in the design-engineer-build cycle

  • Regulatory proliferation generates a complex maze that digital systems navigate with ease as they monitor, track, enforce and document compliance

All about digital manufacturing solution

Digitalisation generates immediate returns today and sets the foundation for future success. A powerful digital manufacturing solution can transform your business by:

  • Accelerating speed-to-market with streamlined dialogue across design and production

  • Reducing risks by identifying potential manufacturing issues before they occur

  • Increasing margins with fully optimised manufacturing operations

  • Enhancing industry leadership using data-driven processes that fuel continuous improvement and growth

Siemens provides robust digital manufacturing capabilities that businesses need to stay competitive today.

Xcelerator: Catalyst for the digital enterprise

The Xcelerator™ portfolio is a comprehensive, integrated portfolio of software and services (Refer image 1). It is designed to form a software foundation for digital business transformation. Xcelerator is a catalyst, helping companies accelerate their evolution into digital enterprises, enabling them to be poised for ongoing success. Three business imperatives can be embraced that will lead to operational excellence and hence a competitive advantage:

  • Comprehensive digital twin: Companies can blur the boundaries between industry domains by integrating the virtual & physical, hardware & software, design and manufacturing worlds.

  • Personalised, adaptable/modern: The applications are flexible and scalable for new ways of working. With insights and data, one can predict and adapt products to future needs, allowing he/she to meet rapidly changing consumer preferences.

  • Flexible open ecosystem: Access to a diverse field of partners in an open ecosystem gives you the opportunity to build on the investment. The application development services along with native cloud and cloud-connected products are being offered.

Product development and production

All manufacturers, including companies that produce transportation systems, medical devices, power generation and transmission systems, printed circuit boards (PCBs), food and medicine, follow a similar product development and production process. In the simplest terms, product development and production consist of four steps:

  1. Product engineering designs products.

  2. Manufacturing engineering defines operations and production systems.

  3. Manufacturing operations schedules and executes production.

  4. Utilisation and performance assess products and production.

Many manufacturers run conventional processes that get the job done – but are not the most efficient. Operational issues, such as disconnected systems, partial automation, silos of information, lack of collaboration and challenging logistics impact quality, efficiency and the bottom line. Executives recognise that they must transform their manufacturing process to remove the barriers between these steps, streamline information flow and enhance collaboration throughout the entire process.

Building a future with digital manufacturing

Digitalisation is profoundly changing the world for the better. Progressive manufacturers are already using digital tools but recognise the need for a more comprehensive approach to improve their business and become more competitive in today’s challenging markets. The digital manufacturing are used to achieve four key objectives:

  1. Accelerate innovation – Rapid technical advances and growing demand for mass customisation lead to rapid introductions of new products and innovations.

  2. Engineer flawless production – With lot and batch sizes shrinking, manufacturers want to anticipate every issue and resolve it virtually before the first production run.

  3. Ensure quality & efficiency – Instead of choosing between quality and efficiency (historically raising one reduced the other), manufacturers use digital technologies to make gains in both.

  4. Orchestrate production excellence – Maintain a reputation for end-to-end optimal performance with data-driven optimisation across the enterprise.

Using digital manufacturing to create a digital twin is crucial to meeting these objectives.

Digital twin: Workhorse of digital enterprises

In the virtual realm, a comprehensive digital twin represents every aspect of a product’s life, from design all the way to in-use performance, including the processes employed to manufacture the product. The comprehensive digital twin is used to simulate, predict and optimise the product and production system before investing in physical prototypes and assets. It provides valuable foresight prior to production as well as insights that drive continuous manufacturing improvements.

  1. Speed-to-market – How digital manufacturing accelerates innovation?

    For a competitive advantage, the manufacturing enterprise incorporates innovative designs, materials and manufacturing processes on a seemingly continuous basis. How can introducing these innovations bolster – and not disrupt – product and process performance? The key is a tighter collaboration between product design and manufacturing engineering, enabled by the digital twin. Operating in a common digital ecosystem and sharing a common data infrastructure, design and manufacturing engineers are empowered to collaborate directly.

  2. Reduced risk – How digital manufacturing helps engineer flawless production? (Refer image 3)

    The digital twin reduces risk and costly downstream issues by enabling accurate production planning, simulation and validation. It helps a manufacturer quickly identify and resolve any issues that may arise during production. With timely collaboration between manufacturing engineering, manufacturing operations (production) and business systems, digital twin helps companies to:

    • Accurately and completely verify resource availability, capability and capacity prior to actual production

    • Perform virtual validations that identify and facilitate the resolution of potentially costly problems

    • Proactively consider engineering or supply chain changes to better plan the required process changes

    • Use closed-loop insights from production to perform virtual analysis of recurring issues

    • Perform corrective actions and impact analysis for error-proof incorporation of changes in production

  3. Better margins – How digital manufacturing ensures quality and efficiency?

    The market forces of globalisation and mass customisation spawn uncertainty and the need for flexibility in the manufacturing enterprise. Product and process variation continues to grow, and global to local manufacturing requirements and supply chain dynamics multiply the complexity. Under these conditions, the executive must think creatively to ensure better margins. To achieve and maintain this required flexibility, manufacturers must digitally connect manufacturing engineering, manufacturing operations and the performance of plant resources in concert with enterprise and automation systems.

  4. Industry leadership – How digital manufacturing orchestrates production excellence? (Refer image 2)

    Many executives today are spearheading a cultural shift in how data is shared, communicated, and used across their organisations. This data-driven approach helps them achieve production excellence in fluid market conditions. Data-driven manufacturing helps remove the guesswork and allows companies to better predict what will happen, improving their response to real-time trends on the shop floor.

Ultimately, they can realise closed-loop processes that can help them anticipate well in advance any unforeseen issues arising in production. For instance, IoT and data analytics generate actionable manufacturing insights that bring about continuous improvement, reducing production costs and improving quality. Data-driven manufacturing enables companies to orchestrate production excellence end-to-end, from design concept through production and product performance – & back again. Companies can realise immense benefits and transform into digital manufacturers by implementing data-driven manufacturing.

Image Gallery

  • Image 1: Siemens Xcelerator, makes digital transformation easier, faster and at scale

  • Image 2: Factory design and simulation capabilities help create the digital twin

  • Image 3: Advanced robotic simulation with automated motion planning

  • Sachin Sanghi

    Cloud Sales Specialist

    Siemens Digital Industries Software

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