Video: Productivity, networking, cyber security, energy efficiency
Raj Batra, president, Industry Automation Division, Siemens Industry Inc., explains (in the 2:45 minute video) key concerns and opportunities for manufacturers today. These include:
- Network topologies
- Cyber security
- Energy efficiency and control-system integration.
During the ARC Advisory Group 2012 Forum, Batra told Control Engineering and Plant Engineering that Siemens did a qualitative assessment of 500 C-level manufacturing executives in many vertical industries. Batra said results show they want to know how to increase productivity.
"In operations,” Batra said, “they want to do thorough automation and energy efficiency improvements, are looking at available advances, and want to put innovative products into the marketplace. We’ve invested in the Siemens TIA portal, $1 billion in 5 years, to ensure the automation platform has superior usability. Being on a common platform delivers a 30%-40% reduction in automation time for design. Savings derives from working on automation design from one screen. Moving from disparate packages to one integrated platform is easier to use and moves design time from days and hours to minutes and seconds."
Additional comments: Manufacturing innovation, education
Beyond the video, Batra also explained how manufacturing has been a bright spot in the U.S. economy recently, and capacity utilization is higher in many industries, pushing beyond 80% in many. Capital expenditure (capex) investments also are healthy, with strong positions and investments from many. Manufacturing today seems to be more strategic to the enterprise, he noted, providing an innovation-oriented culture.
The manufacturing innovation environment provides high-end design opportunities to put many capital improvements in place.
"Manufacturing is ripe with legacy systems and has to be modernized. A new regime of people coming in has fresh thoughts, with mid- and longer-term perspectives. When utilization levels exceed prior high-water marks, then there’s greater clarity and urgency where investments are needed," Batra said. "With the booming automotive market, especially power-train projects, they’re investing heavily in automation just to keep up with demand. Koreans and Germans have automation-rich industries and are more practiced in mid- to long-term thinking.
"We’re seeing longer-range planning evolving here, with baby boomers and with new people coming into the industry, especially those with higher-end expertise. Younger people become adept in core technologies within a year, and while they’re very capable, there’s not enough talent to go around. We’re working on promoting apprentice programs, K-12 in STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] skills, to help create the workforce of future. We don’t see the needed degrees in manufacturing, sciences, and mechatronics."
He said that Siemens, for instance, has been working to excite youth about engineering, with 11 academic partners in the “Go PLM” program, and the company has contributed approximately $11 million in-kind donations last year to education programs, including First Robotics, to help younger people enter the workforce more qualified.
– Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media content manager, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering