Interview number 1 of our virtual round table: Rainer Brehm, Head of Automation Systems and Products at Siemens Digital Industries
IEN Europe: What are the main challenges when talking about digitalization? How to limit the side effects of the digital adoption?
R. Brehm: One of the challenges is to build up expertise around digitalization topics. For small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, this is an obstacle that should not be underestimated. That’s why, as an integrated solutions provider, we already offer complete, scalable and open solution packages alongside our extensive product range as well as special services that make it easier for companies to realize their digital transformation one step at a time. The best way to tackle digitalization is to get going. Start by implementing small ideas and exploring the new possibilities. Digitalization doesn’t happen overnight – it’s more of a journey. Especially when addressing complex topics, scalable solutions that build on each other can help customers to embark on their own digitalization journey without being overwhelmed by obstacles.
IEN Europe: What’s the role of IoT in today’s factory? Why is it so important to undertake the digital transition?
R. Brehm: Companies in the manufacturing industries today are operating in highly dynamic markets, and are under pressure to be more flexible, cut their time to market and increase their efficiency while meeting rigorous quality and safety standards. To overcome these challenges, they need intelligent automation concepts – conventional ones just aren’t up to the job. Through the targeted use of artificial intelligence combined with edge and cloud computing, on the other hand, it is possible to boost flexibility and productivity significantly. Technologies like these offer huge potential for transformation, the magnitude of which can’t yet be foreseen. The fundamental prerequisite for intelligent automation concepts is the efficient interaction of all automation components – from the field level right up to the corporate management level. The only way to make this succeed is by networking individual machines, devices and the production facilities.
IEN Europe: How much is digitalization part of your company’s strategy and why?
R. Brehm: We're convinced that our customers' future flexibility and productivity requirements can only be met by means of digital, intelligent automation concepts. Throughout the entire product creation cycle, our customers are already relying on Siemens to help them tap potential by using virtual product and production models – known as digital twins – to gain early insights into the later real world, enabling them to achieve a high level of optimization as soon as the facility is commissioned. Perfect vertical integration into the operation of the production facility opens up further opportunities for improvement: the data generated by the machines provides valuable feedback for the subsequent simulation cycles. That's why we at Siemens Digital Industries are focusing strongly on expanding our end-to-end portfolio in the area of automation and software solutions with future technologies such as artificial intelligence, edge and cloud computing. This is generating new opportunities for increasing productivity and flexibility. So digitalization isn't just reflected in the Siemens Digital Industries name – it's part of our DNA.