Monthly Archives: March 2019

How the uses of artificial intelligence impacts businesses

How the uses of artificial intelligence impacts businesses

Category : Blogs

How the uses of artificial intelligence impacts businesses

The uses of artificial intelligence are still in their infancy as the majority of early artificial intelligence adopters are trying to sell us more and more things. Advertisements are geared toward your personal preferences and purchase history. Online purchases come with suggestions of what you may also like to buy. Streaming services use algorithms to suggest which shows or movies you might want to watch next, or what music to listen to next.

For the most part, artificial intelligence is in the customer-facing side of business, such as in banking where fraud detection, remote check deposit and improving internal costs based on data received from the technology.

But in the near future, industries like manufacturing and healthcare will discover the importance of artificial intelligence.

Manufacturing will find uses of artificial intelligence to better work with digital twin technology and data collection. A prime example is in the automotive industry where companies can take a real car, put it in a test environment, collect data and feed that information into an artificial intelligence system. Engineers and designers can learn more about how that car behaves so they can make changes based on feedback.

The importance of artificial intelligence is monumental, especially looking into how businesses can thrive in the future. Where does a company start though? It’s best to start simple with a pilot program and learn how the uses of artificial intelligence can benefit your organization.

In our video “The future of artificial intelligence: The keys for adopting AI,” learn how businesses can see where data is being used and find how adopting artificial intelligence can improve everything from internal costs to better data analysis.

Click here to learn more about artificial intelligence.

By the author – Steve Hartman


Siemens MES for smart manufacturing.

Excellence in Manufacturing

Category : Blogs

Excellence in Manufacturing

Siemens PLM software garnered two top awards from IDC Research for Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) for discrete and process manufacturing.

This leadership in MES is largely attributable to the critical role it plays in Siemens’ vision for the Digital Enterprise, the comprehensive industry software portfolio that supports companies in their digital transformation, the journey towards smart manufacturing.

This award is an opportunity to share more on the importance of MES for smart manufacturing.

MES as the Key to Smart Manufacturing

“Smart Manufacturing can be most simply defined as using digital information to transform your manufacturing business to be more innovative, responsive to customers, safe and efficient, and ultimately more profitable.”

– Andrew Hughes, Principal Analyst, LNS Research, e-book “How Manufacturing is Becoming the Center of the Enterprise

You may have attended the LNS Research webcast “A Smart Manufacturing Journey in a Digital World”, or downloaded their e-book on “How Manufacturing is Becoming the Center of the Enterprise”. If you haven’t, you can download them here. Both offer valuable insights on how to embark on your journey to Smart Manufacturing.

“A large, ‘big bang’ Digital Transformation project effort right at the outset isn’t necessary. Companies early in the transformation journeys should start with limited and realistic ambitions then build upon initial successes.”

– Andrew Hughes, Principal Analyst, LNS Research, e-book “How Manufacturing is Becoming the Center of the Enterprise”

  • Both LNS Research and IDC Research agree with the Siemens vision that MES enable the level of integration and data collection that is the first step in the digital transformation to smart manufacturing.
  • LNS Research findings also show that 80% of factories do not have MES in place.

Excellence in MES

Let’s take a look at how the IDC MarketScapes work.

IDC MarketScapes provide a clear framework in which the product and service offerings, capabilities and strategies, and current and future market success factors of vendors can be meaningfully compared. The framework also provides buyers with a 360 degree assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and prospective vendors.

The analysts at IDC looked into the different offerings, compared them from different angles, and more importantly, spoke with the technology buyers and users. The assessment for the 2016 MarketScapes for MES, both for Process and for Discrete industries, states as one of Siemens’ strengths:

“The industry software division of Siemens is part of a giant group with interest in multiple industries, which considers industrial software a strategic asset going forward. This aspect should ensure customers on the commitment of Siemens to sustaining innovation in its MES products. This particularly involves deep integration with production planning, engineering and simulation, capacity planning and detailed production scheduling, quality management, manufacturing intelligence, and SCADA/HMI applications.”

– IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Discrete Manufacturing Execution System 2016 Vendor Assessment

Together with all of the above mentioned portfolio elements the MES forms a Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) platform that is the pivot of the Digital Enterprise.  Siemens Leadership in MES is largely attributable to its vision for the Digital Enterprise. MES is a critical component of our comprehensive software portfolio for the global manufacturing industry. This vision backed by best-in-class solutions is today helping companies worldwide in their digital transformation.

  • IDC recognizes Siemens as a leader for its MES software capability and strategy in both discrete and process manufacturing

By The Author –  


New technology in industry_platform economy

New technology in industry is creating a platform economy

Category : Blogs

New technology in industry is creating a platform economy

Twenty years ago, product-centric companies dominated a list of the most valuable companies in the world. The list was a Who’s Who of automotive, manufacturing, oil and gas, and brick-and-mortar retailers. Today, platform-based businesses rule. This new economy forces product-centric manufacturing companies to rethink how they transform digitally to survive and thrive in a data-rich market. It’s no secret that new technology and new approaches eventually supersede the old.

We’re witnessing one of these periods now. As manufacturers look for ways to radically redefine processes through the hype of the sharing economy, online platforms, the end of money and all the other buzzwords people use today, digital twin evolution will lead to platform economy, a state Viktor Mayer-Schönberger foresees in his book Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data.

Digital twins, which evolve from decades of simulation and analysis in engineering, are high fidelity models for actual physical objects such as a product or production process. Using computer aided-designmodel-based system engineering and multiphysics simulation tools, a designer or engineer creates a digital representation for a physical object or process.

The digital twin is no longer science fiction. For example, NASA used this approach to design, engineer and produce two Mars rovers: Curiosity and InSight. Since you can’t build a Mars environment on earth, you simply bring Mars to the computer and digitally test your Mars rover. Just imagine how the world would change if the aerospace vehicle design practices are widely adopted by most manufacturers for products suchs as cars, aircrafts, ships, home appliances, smartphones, conveniences and so on.

This might be a comprehensive model spanning over multiple layers, including integrated circuit (IC), printed circuit board (PCB) systems, to a system of systems, to optimize often conflicting performance objectives such as weight, space, structural strength, fluid dynamics, thermal features, electromagnetic interference and even aesthetics. This also might consist of a simulation model for how a robot functions in a factory or how a multi-step manufacturing process, say for custom-designed shoes, takes place. A digital twin of a robot guides how it works by simulating the digital geometry and telemetry required for tasks. This allows a manufacturer to validate that a plant or process will deliver the desired results before ordering expensive machinery, devices and software.

In both cases, digital twins have the potential to radically change the way we design, manufacture and use products in much more efficient and controlled manner. It allows manufacturers to meet growing consumer demands for individualization, delivery speed and price in a world of uncertainty.

Rethink the five building blocks of an enterprise-as-software platform

In a platform-based economy, whether the focus is producing a 3D-printed car or space vehicle—or allowing a customer to design a pair of sneakers and receive them in a few days—the common theme is a need for fast and flexible orchestration. This is only possible with the digitalization of five building blocks of an enterprise in any manufacturing ecosystem.

The five building blocks include:

  • User
  • Maker
  • Product platform
  • Interconnected plants, and
  • As-operated products.

User behaviors are stored in digital user profiles, which continuously “learn” what users need and want. A digital assistant oversees trade-off analysis, design space exploration and the optimization of multiple objectives. Within this framework, all products become a software platform; plants are interconnected and connected with makers and users; and a product-in-use owns its online health system. This makes it possible for the system to automatically send data to the manufacturer via the Internet of Things.

The five building blocks interact and form a platform to enable a digital platform economy where rapid iterations of product orchestrations and flow production with a lot size of one are made possible. Novice small enterprises and new, alternative business ideas will prevail. Present stakeholders should fear loss of predominance and influence. The way of doing business in the near future will be dramatically different from today: fewer intermediaries, many, many more diverse markets, and digital services for your digital self.

Shining3D, a startup based in Hangzhou, China that makes 3D printers and scanners, works with us and leverages our digital twin toolbox to offer a platform for makers, including high school students. Makers can log onto the platform, build a reference geometric model by consulting peer makers online or scanning any physical objects, personalize their design as they wish in a video gaming-like environment, print them out, and a 100 percent personalized product is born. If their designs are too complex to print at home, makers may send it to a central factory which will take over to make it and ship it back to the makers. Platform-based economy is at work for them.

Start the digital transformation journey to prepare for a platform economy

“It’s hard to see the picture when you are inside the frame,” said engineer and venture capitalist, Eugene Kleiner. We are amidst the revolution of the digital twin, and all our individual and social interactions are being redefined by its irresistible force. It’s a big mistake to adopt a wait-and-see approach toward digital twins because this framework is a big digital disruptor, and consulting firms like Gartner agree.

Building digital twins requires a fast, flexible, cloud-based IT framework that extends across an organization and into a supply chain. There’s also a need to embrace an open source framework. Some view this as a threat to intellectual property and trade secrets. A new merit system based on participant contributions along the supply chain may be required.

For businesses that get the digital twin concept right, the initial results can be transformative. It’s possible to explore product options and factory configurations like never before—using Scrum, Lean, DevOp process or fast iteration. This makes it possible to understand how and where to invest in technology—and how to get the most out of digital technologies.

To extract the maximum value from this platform economy framework enabled by digital twins, business leaders must fundamentally rethink their business model, their product architecture and their supply chain. It’s vital to change some basic assumptions about how to design factories and create products. Once most manufacturers master digital twins and offer digital services rather than products via a pervasive computing IoT platform, the era of platform economy will emerge.

By the Author – Dr. Frank Fang


Obsolete parts production_3D scanning preserves history

Address obsolete parts production with the digital twin

Category : Blogs

Address obsolete parts production with the digital twin

There’s more to a manufactured part than what’s visible. Every component contains a wealth of historical information about its design and the manufacturing processes that went into creating the part. Unfortunately, much of that information gets lost when organizations sell a product, end its production or when workers retire.

The problem becomes more apparent when demand increases for once-obsolete parts or products. Think about all the changes happening in the auto industry. An average of 3,000 or more parts per car model will become obsolete each year.

What happens when car enthusiasts want to bring an old Chevy truck back to life? Once mass production stops, parts become hard to find or manufacturers must stockpile inventory, which results in higher costs for obsolete parts. This is known as a “long-tail problem.”

So how do you address the long-tail for mass-produced obsolete parts? 3D scanning serves as insurance for manufacturing tooling and design data, so manufacturers can create a digital twin of that antique or obsolete part and make it available when needed.

Securing spare parts: A digital insurance policy

3D scanners provide manufacturers with the ability to make digital copies of parts to ensure they have backups of qualified tooling surfaces. This means they can bring old products back to life for new revenue opportunities or quickly reproduce quality parts when a component fails. The aftermarket auto industry is just one of many examples of ways manufacturers can use 3D scanning to reintroduce old product lines. The ability to make a digital copy of a tool before shelving it for retirement allows manufacturers to reintroduce the product faster than competitors.

Advancements to 3D scanning software are also helping manufacturers quickly verify product compliance. For instance, the aerospace and defense industry must address frequent regulatory changes, which can create challenges for products that have been in existence for decades. Think about Boeing’s B-52 bombers built between 1952 and 1962; 76 of them remain in active service.

Each time a regulatory change occurs, parts must be recertified. Modern 3D scanning software helps streamline the verification process. For instance, advanced 3D scanning software allows designers to create a trace link between a requirement and a product structure. This feature removes a great deal of complexity, time and potential errors from commonly practiced verification processes.

They also can correct quality issues with minimal downtime. For example, Siemens recently worked with a manufacturer that encountered a quality problem with an injection mold for a rubber gasket. The customer scanned the mold and came back with nominal dimensions to make a quality tool again.

The customer did this without any original records or drawings of the tool. In other words, the customer brought the tool back to life by scanning its surface and creating a digitized copy of it. Now, if the tool breaks again, the company can easily recreate it using the digital twin—avoiding costly downtime and responding to customer needs quickly.

Securing intellectual capital for future value

Another potential benefit of 3D scanning is the ability to preserve years of knowledge about products. Business strategies change over time, and the company may want to consider selling the product line. Or, the company may want to position itself as an acquisition target. If critical product information isn’t readily available or lost over time, the manufacturer may struggle to attract investors.

A digital scan can serve as a type of archive for intellectual capital. It provides potential suitors with confidence that they can manufacture the part with minimal guesswork or extensive design planning to begin production. 3D scanning software also helps manufacturers preserve the knowledge they often lose when experienced workers retire. New employees may require significant training to build an existing product, especially if it’s a complex design; but the digital twin provides new employees with the tools they need to build quality parts without extensive onboarding.

3D scanning and reverse engineering help manufacturers remain agile in an increasingly competitive market. Whether it’s resolving quality issues, resurrecting older product lines or securing tribal knowledge, the digital twin is already proving to be a game-changing technology for manufacturers’ peace of mind and competitive advantage.

By the Author – Ryan Haylock