Owing to the pandemic, do you now expect to see a surge in the adoption of digital technologies in manufacturing? According to you, what would be the technologies that would witness increased adoption in the sector?
The value we provide to our customers is when we can show a very close relationship between the virtual and physical world. We define this relationship as a digital twin and not all digital twins are equal; does the model support a feedback loop from manufacturing or product use back-to-the-design digital models? And can a customer act upon this linkage and confidently make decisions? Our customers have been able to respond very well to the pandemic with comprehensive digital twin solutions. They could re-plan factories based on new product mix, make changes to product design and remain agile because they could work virtually. For this reason, we see the adoption rate increasing within our customer base and an influx of new customers because they need these capabilities.
How do you think the process of innovation has & will change during the pandemic? Do you think innovation will continue to be more of human-centric or would they go back to being technology-centric?
The amount of innovation time, energy and resources that are being applied to make the world a better and safer place for its inhabitants has grown substantially in the last decade. The list of things we could not accomplish or innovate 10 years ago, which we can today, is growing comparatively. Today’s societal needs are playing a large part in the demand for solutions; as people are forced to work remotely, the process of innovation continues to be driven by humans.
How is Siemens going about helping manufacturing and other industries emerge from the pandemic-related challenges and restore normalcy?
Across the global manufacturing industries, companies are dealing with an increased amount of complexity. This was a challenge before COVID-19 – when the challenges were trying to add an exponentially increasing amount of electronics into a product or thinking about challenges like EVs and autonomous vehicles – but once we add COVID to the mix and the impact it has had on everything, from supply chains to customer demand, and the need for entirely new product lines – the amount of complexity is overwhelming.
We believe the solution is to accelerate the adoption of smart manufacturing & digitalisation and the use of comprehensive digital twin. By matching the predictive capability of the digital simulation world with the real-world impact in the physical world, companies can learn, decide and act faster than their competitors – or in this case, adapt quickly to keep up with changing external factors like a pandemic.
With the new rules of normalcy coming in, there are a lot of changes expected to come into the shop floor. How can companies maintain a vital balance in ensuring technologies do not replace human labour, but they coexist? How is Siemens helping its customers in compensating for less workforce on the shop floor?
To help manufacturers maintain employee safety in the wake of COVID-19, we have developed a workplace distancing solution that helps manufacturers simulate and manage employee exposure risks while enabling productivity throughout their facilities. By integrating our Simatic Real Time Locating System (RLTS) with a digital twin of the actual manufacturing environment, companies can optimise workflows and employee movements with proper social distancing as a constraint. COVID-19 is accelerating our adoption of cloud and IoT as part of our product lines. Our customers are also asking for remote service capabilities to understand how their assets in the field are performing without the need for a service technician to always be onsite and to remotely understand what improvements they ought to be making.
Educating & upgrading oneself to the technologies in the market is essential. How is Siemens helping its customers in the process of education & upgradation during the present phase?
We are regularly in contact with our customers and engage with them physically, digitally and at events, large & small, to help educate them about our changing offerings and the opportunities for technology to help their businesses through the pandemic. We have shifted many of our events to become virtual events, which has been very helpful for customers who previously could not spare the time or expense to attend one. In addition, as we introduce new cloud-based technologies like Teamcenter X, we will not force our customers to move to the cloud or subscription but instead, work with them to transition as it fits their business needs.
What have been some of the biggest challenges for Siemens during the present pandemic? How is your organisation working on overcoming them?
Like every other company, Siemens has been impacted by the COVID pandemic. Almost all our employees have worked remotely at some point over the past few months, with many still working remotely at this time. We’ve taken steps to enable us to continue developing and delivering solutions that speed digital transformation & best support our customers throughout this period. This has included cancelling/postponing some events and transitioning to virtual events whenever it works best for our customers.
Owing to the pandemic, goals of the organisations have changed; what are the present areas of focus for your division? How are you working on attaining it?
Siemens Digital Industries is all about how we help companies transform into a digital enterprise. We’re focused on helping accelerate that digital transformation, as the entire digital enterprise is built around a framework of software. Our vision for tomorrow is an optimised network of digital enterprises sharing data and collaborating in the design, manufacturing and deployment of products & processes across discrete and process industries – producing a network spanning start-ups, SMB and enterprise-scale participants. To realise this vision, it’s clear there are three business imperatives that every customer must embrace, turning today’s complexity into tomorrow’s operational excellence. Firstly, a comprehensive digital twin that covers the entire product and production lifecycle. Secondly, a personalised approach to digital transformation and finally, extension of digitalisation throughout the industrial ecosystem and collaboration between organisations.