In business, there is a constant drive to find ever-more efficient design and production processes and today many business owners are looking at digitalisation and automation to find those gains and get ahead of the competition.
Andrew Peters, managing director of Siemens Digital Industries in Congleton, spoke about how the site there has gone through a digital journey, and how other businesses can do it too to improve productivity and profitability, at the Made in the Midlands Expo held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on June 20.
Digitalisation – for example through collaborative robotics (cobots), process simulation and cloud analytics driving process improvement – is already becoming commonplace in workplaces and it is helping to increase productivity levels.
However, he acknowledged that there are barriers to taking up digital technologies for SMEs, such as a lack of awareness of what is out there and what it can do, and a limited ecosystem that means they cannot always try out new technologies.
In Congleton, Siemens is pioneering digitalisation, automation and data connectivity to accelerate the company’s global competitiveness. For example, they are now able to produce a digital twin of a new product, which can reduce the time to market as it means it cuts out having to produce many physical prototypes or making costly and time-consuming redesigns. This means the product is optimised in the virtual world, so it is right first time in the physical world.
Siemens also has a digital twin of the production process – something that wasn’t possible in the past – which means it is optimised in the virtual world, including ensuring the physical layout of the machines involved in the process is as efficient as possible.
In addition, the capability of the production systems and processes are established as part of the manufacturing engineering design. Complex systems can be simulated and optimised quickly.
The highly integrated flow of information allows end-to-end business processes to operate as one connected solution. By connecting manufacturing resources, it can provide better insights to aid decision-making. Instead of the dis-jointed data systems of the past, there are now intuitive process management systems.
Peters said that businesses considering digitalisation should start their digital journey small and understand what is happening with that, before moving on to bigger projects.
However, it is clear that digitalisation and automation will only become more commonplace in manufacturing companies over the years to come.Back