Siemens Automation Summit: Cost-effective ways to reduce risk, limit cost, improve effectiveness

As U.S. manufacturing roars back to life, resolving engineering challenges and maximizing return on investment were among goals of Siemens Automation Summit and the Siemens Answers for Industry Conference, in Charlotte, NC, June 8-10, 2010.

By Mark T. Hoske June 8, 2010

As U.S. manufacturing roars back to life, resolving engineering challenges and maximizing return on investment were among goals of Siemens Automation Summit and the Siemens Answers for Industry Conference, in Charlotte, NC, June 8-10, 2010. Opening statements at the summit from Raj Batra, president, Industry Automation Division, Siemens Industry Inc., covered “Driving Technology and Innovation Together.

The events, held regionally last year to help with travel budgets, moved again to a national format, “a sign that the U.S. Manufacturing recovery is taking hold. After the most severe downturn in more than 80 years, this is a welcome sign to all of us,” Batra said in an opening welcome.

As of early June 2010, Batra said, U.S. manufacturing marked its tenth successive month of growth; productivity increased in first-quarter 2010 by more than 6%, consumer spending increased (2 million iPads sold in less than 60 days after launch), housing starts and existing home sales were up, and the U.S. economy grew 3% (in real gross domestic product, GDP) in first-quarter 2010, all proof of economic resiliency. A year ago, U.S. auto industry was on life support and one-third of manufacturing capacity was standing still. We’ve had a tremendous bull run, he said, pleased that recovery has arrived now, rather than years from now, as some had feared.

Innovation matters, and the U.S. is the best source global source for innovation, Batra said. Citing statistics from a Plant Engineering magazine survey of 1,000 plant engineers, the “Changing world of the plant engineer,” there’s a war underway for high-technology talent. Top concern registered by the respondents was the state of the economy. The second largest concern was job security and globalization, including outsourcing to markets where the labor costs are lower. The third largest concern was finding employees with the right skills to replace workers expecting to retire in the next few years.

These changes offer great opportunities, since innovation represents the greatest opportunity for anyone in manufacturing or industrial jobs today, Batra noted. 

Industrial-strength opportunities

Opportunities for manufacturing are many, including:

  • A Siemens wind blade manufacturing plant in Fort Madison, Iowa, that created 600 clean energy jobs.
  • Siemens technology is driving four of the five largest U.S. solar installations. Solar photovoltaics in the U.S. provides 340 MW of power, growing to 2,700 MW in five years. For polysilicon production globally, 34% is in the U.S.
  • Adding smart grid functions will help manage power flow and reduce power outages, which cost the U.S. $150 billion a year. Grid R&D has lagged behind other industries’ modernization in the past 50 years. Industry, which consumes two-thirds of all energy, has a vital role to play in defining how the smart grid manages functions, interconnecting more than 9,200 electric generating units, 1 million megawatts of capacity over 300,000 miles of transmission lines.

Intense investments are required

• $1.3 billion in venture capital invested between 2005-2009;

• $11 billion in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act; and

• $1.5 trillion (forecast) over next 20 years according the Brattle Group.

Investments will help energy sources become more reliable, efficient, secure, and sustainable, with more emphasis on two-way communication to the grid, plant-wide asset management, and effective data use.

Efficiency, sustainability

Energy efficiency efforts include support of the Profinet extension, called PROFIenergy, which helps monitor and control energy use by putting unused loads in sleep mode, Batra said. Because industrial equipment can consume up to 60% of the energy during idle periods as it does during production, a lower-power standby mode is desirable. The PROFIenergy extension triggers standby, power down and wake up from a central location. Working with Siemens, Mercedes Benz piloted PROFIenergy technology, reducing energy costs during non-productive periods (such as nights and weekends) by 75%. 

Siemens sustainability efforts in place since 1971 have resulted in the largest portfolio of green products globally, worth $32 billion last year, Batra said, adding that the company has abated 210 million tons of C02 for customers, as a result. As a company, Batra said, Siemens aims to use its technologies to help reduce:

  • Energy consumption by 20%;
  • C02 emission by 20%;
  • Water consumption by 20%; and
  • Waste production by 15%.

Product life cycle management

Effective product lifecycle management adds efficiency to the supply chain, and 75% of all manufacturing costs are pre-determined in the product design phase, Batra said.

Adding to the company’s product lifecycle management (PLM), Siemens recently acquired Comos, a supplier of PLM systems for process industry plants. At the Comos user conference in Brazil in May, Petrobras representatives talked about integrating Comos into its process control system, Batra said, noting that two engineers in charge of commissioning said they completed a year’s worth of work in two weeks. Siemens is the only company offering PLM solutions for discrete and process industries, Batra added.

Siemens User Advisory Board

Integration: The Siemens User Advisory Board expressed preference in co-locating Siemens Automation Summit and the Siemens Answers for Industry Conference “to expand the available seminar content, showcase demos, and pool of attendees available for potential recruitment into the user community,” said Dennis Inverso, chairman, Siemens User Advisory Board, in a printed welcome statement. Inverso is principal consultant, DuPont Electrical & Instrument Control Systems Group. Those involved in the UAB include, along with Siemens staff, AE Solutions, Air Products, Cargill, Dow Chemical, DMC Inc., DuPont, and Sony DADC. The co-located event was said to include more than 90 seminars, feedback sessions and roadmap discussions along with a solutions showcase.

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– Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering content strategist,, part of CFE Media,

Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.