Alejandro Preinfalk
Executive Vice President of Digital Factory & Process Industries and Drives
Siemens
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View from the Top

Digitalization for Smart Lifecycle Management

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 11:05

Q: What makes Siemens different from other network systems providers?

A: Our main differentiator is the digitalization concept we apply. Ours begins at the first stage of CAD (computer- aided design) simulators, ensuring the development of a concept’s strengths and characteristics right from the start. Beginning the process earlier than any other product vendor while being present in the design process has allowed us to analyze how the product could be manufactured efficiently. The evidence of how much we believe in our product is that we use it in our main automation factory in Germany. The system allows us to produce 1 million Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) a month and more than 1,000 different versions of each system. Each product we manufacture is autonomous enough to tell the machine what needs to be done, allowing us to reach a quality standard of 99.99 percent perfection while offering great flexibility to companies that run on tight deadlines.

Every producer has its own style when manufacturing cars but our goal is to create customized mass production. This means that standard components are the base of the product but there can be many variations according to the demand of customers. Siemens’ offering keeps costs down while allowing customers to tailor their products and solutions, reducing a manufacturer’s need to hold large inventories.

Q: What innovative solutions does Siemens provide to the automotive industry?

A: Automotive is one of the key verticals we serve and our portfolio matches the industry directly. From power generation and distribution solutions to automation, we can design future-proof manufacturing suited to the automotive sector. Siemens helps industrial customers measure gas and steam consumption in their plants to ensure energy is used as intelligently as possible during manufacturing processes. All industries are looking to save resources and cover demand. Technology and data can make huge changes when put together. We classify automotive as a discrete manufacturing industry and in that segment automotive is a trendsetter.

Q: How do you participate in technology integration processes?

A: It is much easier for new companies or major expansions in existing companies to try new technologies or concepts. In established systems, it can take longer to measure risks and select the right solutions. One of the best examples of how our technology can help is Maserati. We reduced its time-to-market by 50 percent by building a digital twin of the production line before it was physically implemented using the complete product lifecycle management (PLM) portfolio. Our advanced automation simulators can show even the system’s PLCs down to the welding cells, as well as the movements of robots and the conveyor. This allows us to show an extremely realistic representation of how a line could be improved. Ergonomics play an important role in the automotive industry as assembly areas require many more operators than in other industries. Thus, a worker’s movements can be digitally analyzed in detail.

Q: What would you highlight as the company’s primary success in its involvement in Industry 4.0?

A: We serve all the major players in the industry, not only OEMs. Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies offer the greatest opportunity for us to add value because integrating these players’ concepts into the same database makes the whole chain more reliable. This is the main concept of Industry 4.0, upgrading from the automated islands of Industry 3.0 that lacked network interconnection.

Q: What innovations are you currently developing?

A: Siemens speculates that software and digitalization will become prominent in manufacturing, including smart data and lifecycle management. In the mobility segment, sensors in vehicles can analyze data within the unit to schedule the most efficient and appropriate maintenance for the vehicle. Siemens’ key driver is using digitalization to optimize technological advances to be more competitive and to improve the overall industry’s structure. We consider Mexico an exciting market in which to participate following the Energy Reform and as the main manufacturing hub for the Americas.