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Far & wide

Released at: 09:01, 06/08/2015

Far & wide

Mr. Christian Beckers, Vice President of Siemens Vietnam and Head of Digital Factory, Process Industry & Drives, tells VET how digitalization is shaping the future.

■ What technology trends will be dominant in the decades ahead? 

The world’s energy supply must be placed on a new and sustainable foundation. Electrical power that can be generated, transmitted, and consumed efficiently will become a comprehensive energy carrier to a far greater extent than it is today. Global energy demand is growing three times as fast as the world’s population. What’s more, a new era of automation and digital services is dawning. In the coming 30 years the computing power, storage capacity, and data transmission rates of microchips will increase a thousand-fold and digital machines will become multifaceted assistants in daily life and the workplace. By 2050 almost as many people will be living in cities as are alive in the world today and for the first time in history there will be more seniors than children and young people.

For Siemens, Digitalization is a driving force of the production of the future, and the Future is Digital.

Today, data is the raw material of the global economy and, in contrast to other raw materials, the volume of data is continuously increasing. According to analysts at the International Data Corporation, the volume of digital data stored worldwide is expected to increase by a factor of 40 to 50 between 2010 and 2020. Today, more data is generated hourly around the world than the amount recorded in books throughout history. Nonetheless, data does not embody any intrinsic value. It’s not the volume but the content of the data that is crucial. 

The important thing is not big data - it’s smart data! For example, in a large gas turbine hundreds of sensors measure temperatures, pressures, currents, and the compositions of gases. A person who analyzes these values correctly can give the operator of the power plant recommendations on how to adjust the plant so as to make it more efficient and reduce its pollutant emissions. In order to do so, such a person must have information about the equipment and about how it performs in operation, as well as the relevant algorithms to evaluate the data. This results in genuine added value for the customer, who can then save energy, operate a facility in a more environmentally-friendly manner, reduce costs, speed up processes, and increase the plant’s reliability.

■ How has smart data been applied by Siemens?

The use of smart data enables Siemens to develop new solutions in all of its areas of operation: the networking of transportation systems, smart grids and virtual power plants; the digital factory with highly automated and flexible production facilities; and the computer-assisted assessment of healthcare data. For example, Siemens operates remote-maintenance centers on several continents. Around 250,000 facilities are connected to these centers, which process more than 10 terabytes of data each month. This amount is expected to increase ten-fold by 2020. The centers analyze the data from almost all of the systems, from traffic lights, traffic computers, trains, and ship engines to thousands upon thousands of buildings, steel plants, paper factories, wind and gas turbines, X-ray machines, and computer tomographs.

■ Could you elaborate on the digitalization trend and share some of Siemens’ project highlights in this field?

Siemens is seeing the most dynamic developments in businesses that provide digital services, which are posting growth rates of 7 to 9 per cent annually. Siemens wants to exploit the opportunities offered by digitalization even better in the future because added value for its customers lies more and more in software solutions and intelligent data analysis.

Siemens has developed the concept of the Digital Enterprise Platform, which combines software tools for all value processes, from the design of the product to production planning to the actual production. As its core, the Digital Enterprise Platform comprises Siemens Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Software as well as Totally Integrated Automation (TIA), the open system architecture that covers the entire production process. This core permits the exchange of information between virtual product development, simulation, and production planning with engineering and the execution of actual production. It is supported by customized services along the entire value chain.

Examples for the PLM software applications include Teamcenter, NX, and Tecnomatix. Teamcenter manages and exchanges data between the software solutions from Siemens and those of other manufacturers. Teamcenter connects teams of developers that are distributed across locations as well as companies and their suppliers, thereby creating a common and uniform source for product, process, and production data. NX, meanwhile, is one of the leading CAD/CAM/CAE software packages (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing/computer-aided engineering) for detailed 3D models in product development. It enables engineers to virtually create, simulate, and test their products and the machines required for production. The Tecnomatix software has been developed for the virtual design and simulation of production as a whole. With this procedure, referred to as digital manufacturing, companies can plan production while they are still working on product development.

All of the above PLM software have been introduced and launched on Vietnam’s market with a number of big customers such as Samsung Vietnam, Canon or Nike Vietnam. Siemens Tecnomatix has enabled manufacturing companies like Nike Vietnam and Ching Luh, a 20,000-worker Taiwanese Nike manufacturing plant in Vietnam, to operate more efficiently and optimize resources. 

Besides PLM software, automation software such as TIA Portal is widely used in Vietnam. TIA Portal helps Vietnamese customers to reduce the engineering time from 30 - 50 per cent, which also helps to save cost and effort. 

Last but not least, Siemens is focusing on Digital Factory, where virtual worlds keep merging with real production and create competitive advantages for its customers. With its Digital Factory offerings, Siemens can help increase its customers’ production efficiency and thus enable them to bring their products to market more quickly while increasing their productivity and flexibility at the same time. 

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