Evidence of Digitalization’s Rise

June 28, 2017
At the 2017 Siemens Automation Summit, the case for industrial digitalization was strengthened with plenty of evidence that the trend is moving beyond planning and into action.

“More than 50 percent of the Fortune 500 has disappeared since 2000 and the main reason cited for this is digitalization,” said Raj Batra, president of the Digital Factory Division of Siemens. For incumbent companies that don't embrace digitalization, “this digital disruption is shaving 45 percent off their revenue growth and 35 percent off their EBIT,” he added. “Incumbents don't like to disrupt their model, but they're going to have to. Companies large and small have to learn there’s a lot to gain from digitalization and a lot of risk by not going down this road.”

Siemens’ support of and interest in the digitalization of industry has been clear for years now. At the Siemens 2017 Automation Summit, this focus was supported by additional evidence that the digitalization concept is increasingly being actively implemented rather than just considered as a likely future state for manufacturers and processors.

Batra noted that, although digitalization is clearly gaining ground across industry and “the intensity and focus on digitalization has never been stronger,” the digital maturation of industry is not occurring as fast as it needs to in order to secure the future viability of many industrial operations.

In some cases, this slowness to transform is “due to capital issues,” Batra said, “and in other cases, companies are not sure where to start. It’s also due to the need for cultural transformation within companies.” Despite these issues, “companies are starting to understand that they have to embrace digitalization,” he said.

A key driver behind the embrace of digitalization is that “time to market has become the most important driver in industry today,” Batra said. Companies that are first to reap more profits have the opportunity to disrupt a market in their favor. The key to improving time to market is to embrace digitalization from the design and planning of a product and its production to the engineering and execution of that product and into after-sales services, Batra added.

Citing evidence of the transformative power of digitalization, Batra referenced Callaway Golf, which has reduced its time to design and produce new golf clubs from years to months and grown its market share as a result—even during a period of slow growth in the golf market. Batra also cited Maserati, which cut its engineering time by 30 percent and tripled its production rates with digitalization, and Newport News Shipbuilding, which is transforming itself into a digital shipyard using Siemens technology to build its new Ford class of carriers.

Batra also cited Adidas' plans to create digital speed factories that can quickly customize products to customers’ requests. Adidas' old timeline for new shoe production was 18 months from design to delivery. Siemens is supplying the automation and simulation technologies for these factories—one of which already exists in Ansbach, Germany, and another that will soon be built in the Atlanta area. “The Siemens simulation technologies used by Adidas in these factories will allow for the complete simulation of a shoe before a single seam is sewn,” Batra said.

At the Automation Summit, Batra recognized four of Siemens’ customer companies for their embrace of digitalization:

  • Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, transitioned from batch manufacturing processes to continuous manufacturing with the implementation of a PCS 7-based line control and SCADA (LC&S) system in its Gurabo, Puerto Rico, plant. The LC&S, along with Siemens process analytical technology, comprises the plant’s central control system in its continuous manufacturing line. The Siemens Process Analytical Technology (PAT) package, which contains configurations for all PAT applications, acquires data from the PAT analyzers and interprets the data using chemometric models developed by Janssen. It then provides results and diagnostics information to the LC&S system. With these digital control technologies in place, Janssen became the first pharmaceutical company to receive FDA approval to change from batch to continuous manufacturing for an approved product—Prezista—which is used for the treatment of HIV.
  • Intec Automated Controls Inc., a controls integrator in the aerospace industry, was recognized for its work with Siemens in the development of the Boeing Fuselage Automated Upright Build (FAUB) cradle control system. Siemens supplied the control system for FAUB, which included computer numerical controls (CNC), servo motors, PLCs, HMIs, industrial networks, drives, control products and industrial power supplies. Before FAUB, Boeing workers installed thousands of rivets in the fuselage manually, a process hard on the workers’ bodies and susceptible to error. The new FAUB manufacturing process uses robots to install rivets in the forward and aft sections of the fuselage. With no fixed tooling in the six stations of the fuselage assembly, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) deliver assembly cradles to the stations, which can each build a forward or aft section in any station. Workers manually connect power to the cradles, after which the Intec control system takes over to align the pitch, roll and yaw axes. The system provided by Intec interlocks to a Simatic IT manufacturing operations management system, cell controllers and the AGV system.
  • Shaw Industries Group Inc., the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, is building a new plant to meet growing production capacity needs. The company selected Siemens to provide the plant’s programmable logic computers (PLCs), drives, industrial networks, human machine interfaces (HMIs) and controls, all tied together with Siemens' Totally Integrated Automation portal. The new Shaw plant in north Georgia was the first major installation in Shaw’s commercial division to use safety PLCs and safe communications to I/O and drives, which saved wiring/installation cost while providing improved diagnostics. Shaw is also now using Siemens' Safety PLC solution as a standard in all its commercial plants to replace legacy programmable safety relays.
  • Tenaris Bay City, located in Bay City, Texas, is a supplier of tubes to energy industry companies as well as other industries. The company will use an automated system to produce a seamless pipe in its new $1.8 billion manufacturing facility. By fully automating this plant, Tenaris is able to improve operator safety, product traceability and plant efficiency. Tenaris Bay City uses Siemens' TIA Portal as the plant’s automation foundation, as well as Siemens PLCs, HMIs (wireless/mobile and standard), SCADA, networking, controls, low voltage and medium voltage motors, variable frequency drives, mechanical drives, motor control centers, switchgear and services. Upon completion later this year, Tenaris Bay City will be the largest TIA Portal installation in the world.

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