A Look Into Sophisticated Manufacturing ProcessesBy Alejandro Enríquez | Wed, 07/14/2021 - 06:00
Q: Experts say 5G technologies will be better be adopted through manufacturing applications. What are Siemens’s advancements in this regard?
A: 5G is an important technology for the future of IoT applications as it offers a bandwidth between 1 and 5 gigabits per second, which is 10 to 20 times what we have today. 5G networks increase device density to 1 million devices per square kilometer. For a manufacturing space, this will be essential. Also, it will maintain low latency so different devices can react quickly. This will be an essential characteristic for the safety of the factory of the future. In autonomous vehicles, for instance, latency and quick responses are vital for safety.
There will be many 5G applications, including mobile robots, autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) for logistics operations, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and 5G-enhanced maintenance that will allow technicians to provide real-time support. Network reliability is also important because industrial applications have zero tolerance for errors that could impact production.
At Siemens, we have advanced global 5G standards for the industrial sector. In 2019, we deployed our first 5G network in Germany at a test center in the automotive sector. At this facility, we installed AGV to facilitate operations across the floor. We also incorporated different industry protocols for data processing. Siemens’ Scalance product line is designed for industrial communications. We have been working on the 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation (5G-ACIA) since 2018, which began by generating norms for the sector and aims to make the factory of the future a reality.
Q: What is your perspective on additive manufacturing and how is Siemens contributing to these technologies?
A: We are present across the value chain of 3D printing and additive manufacturing. These technologies are a new manufacturing method that answers to the needs of the consumer, including digitalization and software development. We are also present in the simulation of the manufacturing process that tests both products and machines. We optimize the system installation and enable the mass manufacturing of customized products.
Siemens has invested more than €500 million (US$610 million) to test additive manufacturing alongside our customers. This segment has been growing for many years now and we have used these technologies since 2012 in the production of energy and railway spare parts. We have over 200 components for energy generation coming from additive manufacturing that are printed on-site, saving a lot of resources and time.
Siemens works alongside its clients and startups to support additive manufacturing. In the automotive industry, we worked with Bugatti to print components made of bionic titanium. These are really specialized components that reduce weight by 50 percent and adhere to other specifications for advanced auto systems that demand high performance.
Q: How does Siemens support other companies to fulfill their carbon neutrality goals?
A: Sustainability plays a central role for Siemens. Globally, we aim to be a carbon-neutral company by 2030. In Mexico, we have been carbon neutral in all of our operations since 2020. We have a product portfolio designed to help our clients reduce their carbon footprint and 46 percent of our global sales came from our sustainable portfolio. In 2020, we reduced 7 million cubic tons of CO2. Between 2012 and 2020, we helped our clients reduce their CO2 emissions by 150 million cubic tons.
We implemented a project in Mexico to decentralize energy through Siemen’s technology at our Queretaro plant, where we installed more than 1,100 solar panels and reduced our annual production of CO2 by 800,000 tons.
We are implementing a new energy model that involves all parts of the supply chain. It is not just about reducing emissions at the facility where the final product is assembled, but to reduce emissions throughout the entire supply chain. At our plant in Germany, we are implementing traceability systems based on blockchain, in which every company involved in every link of the chain registers its carbon footprint, allowing us to trace a product’s entire carbon footprint. This innovation will allow us to assess carbon neutrality goals. It will play an important role in implementing more sustainable operations. This system introduces transparency on carbon neutrality and allows us to get inputs to design better sustainability strategies.
Q: How has Siemens’ Mindsphere supported companies through the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: Mindsphere is our IIoT ecosystem where we capture information and generate insights to make manufacturing operations more efficient. The pandemic is the perfect example of the benefits of digitalization. Never in history has a vaccine been massively produced in such a short period of time, which was achieved thanks to digitalization and the involvement of tech companies in the production of the vaccine. A part of vaccine production is based in the Mindsphere, which allowed some of our clients to use digital twins to draft manufacturing lines and test them in the digital world before moving to physical facilities. If companies had followed the traditional process, the mass production of vaccines would have taken years.
Siemens has been involved strongly in the development of the digital twin. Manufacturing operations connected to Mindsphere allowed for an almost automated production of the required vaccine doses in 30 percent less time and with 10 percent less scrap.
In Mexico, using the Mindsphere at our plant in Guanajuato allowed us to optimize the cycle time by 25 percent to deliver transformers 25 percent faster and at a lower cost. This Mindsphere analysis also allows for significant energy savings that allowed us to obtain an ROI in less than a year. Mindsphere can also contribute to the food and beverages sectors. For example, we worked with sugar company Sucroliq to improve its supply chain both upstream and downstream.
Q: What is Siemens' role in the development of electromobility?
A: Electromobility is here to stay; all indicators are pointing to an electric future. Electric mobility, including buses and trains, is growing even faster than the GDPs of the countries that use it. Many countries have set EV sales goals to address their sustainability concerns.
Siemens supports electromobility systems, electric chargers and other elements that require economies of scale and we are in talks with important players to manufacture EVs.
Moreover, we are automating several aspects of the manufacturing process to reduce the cost of the vehicle. We are using AGVs for internal logistics and we are setting the automation standards for automakers Tesla and Volkswagen. We provide them with the full cycle of digital twins from the very conception of their projects. We work the full digital enterprise cycle.
Siemens is a German company focused on electrification, automation, and digitalization. It is one of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies and a supplier of systems for power generation, transmission and medical diagnosis.