But the high temperatures outside the Mandalay Bay Conference Center didn’t keep away about 600 Siemens users from the expanded event, about triple the number at last year’s conference.
The 2005 conference had been expanded to include users of Siemens manufacturing execution systems in what was previously a process automation users event. And this year’s event took things a step further by bringing in additional end-users from discrete automation and motion control areas. The change, based on feedback from past attendees, was billed as a way to highlight the breadth of Siemens solutions, and to better enable sharing of best practices across different product segments and industries.
Kicking off the 2006 Automation Summit opening session was Tom Kopanski, vice president, Automation and Motion Division, for Alpharetta, Ga.-based Siemens Energy & Automation Inc. (www.sea.siemens.com). The conference theme was “Winning Together,” and Kopanski stressed Siemens’ belief that collaboration and innovation are among keys to success in today’s challenging manufacturing environment. By collaborating and working closely with Siemens in areas of “radical innovation” such as radio frequency identification (RFID), for example, customers can mitigate risk while gaining experience in the technology, he said. This can provide a competitive advantage when the time comes later to make a large-scale RFID investment.
Other opening day speakers included James Tomlinson, head of automation for MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas. Tomlinson discussed use of Siemens technology for building automation in the 5005-room MGM Grand—the world’s second largest hotel—and for theatrical automation at the Cirque du Soleil show on the property. Also on the program was Tom Fitzgerald, executive vice president and senior creative director for Walt Disney Imagineering, which recently signed a 12-year global development agreement with Siemens.
Aubert Martin, president of Siemens Energy & Automation, also stressed innovation, as well as Siemens’ commitment to the U.S. market, during comments made to a press gathering on Monday prior to the conference. Siemens is a top 10 patent recipient in the United States with some 11,000 patents, he said. Out of some 70,000 U.S. employees, nearly 7,000 are involved in research and development, with some $900 million spent on R&D in fiscal year 2005.
The United States represents about 20 percent of Siemens worldwide sales, said Martin. U.S. sales grew by more than 13 percent to $18.8 billion in FY2005, he noted, up from $16.6 billion in FY2004. “We have strong growth in the United States, partly coming from organic growth, and another part coming from acquisitions,” Martin added. “Just since January 2004, we’ve spent $3 billion for acquisitions, and $12 billion over the last 11 years.”
At the Summit, Siemens announced an enhanced Solution Partner Program, designed to bring together Siemens’ global technology solutions with the integration expertise of partners. “Our Solution Partners are critical to the Siemens business strategy,” Kopanski said. “They leverage Siemens products to meet customers’ needs in specific industry segments.” As part of the expanded Solution Partner program, the 2006 Summit for the first time included a Partner Pavilion area, where some 30 Solutions Partners were exhibiting.
Also new for this year’s user conference was the recognition of five U.S. companies for outstanding achievement and use of Siemens technology. Martin presented Siemens Customer Excellence Awards to the companies at an evening reception. The award winners were: Air Products and Chemicals, Wichita, Kan.; Astec Industries, Chattanooga, Tenn.; CoilPro Machinery, Southington, Conn.; E&I Sales, Tulsa, Okla.; and Prism Systems, Mobile, Ala.
- Wes Iversen