Digital twin is the new buzzword in the tech industry these days. According to Tony Hemmelgarn, president and CEO of Siemens Digital Industries Software (a computer software company and a business unit of Siemens), the idea of a comprehensive digital twin can make an excellent guide to a company’s digital transformation focused on business value. “By matching the predictive capability of the digital simulation world with the real-world impact results in the physical world, companies can learn, decide and act faster than their competitors; even adapt quickly to keep up with changing external factors like a pandemic,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in an interview. Excerpts:
How has the current scenario affected Siemens and its customers?
Like all companies, Siemens has been impacted by the Covid pandemic. Almost all our employees have worked remotely at some point over the past few months, with many still working remotely. We’ve taken steps to enable us to continue developing and delivering solutions that speed up digital transformation and best support our customers throughout this period.
While the pandemic has impacted the ability of many of our customers to design and manufacture as intended, we’ve also been amazed by some of the innovative things the Siemens software community has done in response to this global health crisis. In response to the urgent need for ventilators, automotive and aviation leader Vinfast Group started producing them -this required the expedited design and manufacturing of entirely new products. The key to making this pivot successfully has been digitalisation and the use of the digital twin. The idea of a comprehensive digital twin can make an excellent guide to a company’s digital transformation focused on business value. By matching the predictive capability of the digital simulation world with the real-world impact results in the physical world, companies can learn, decide and act faster than their competitors-or in this case, adapt quickly to keep up with changing external factors like a pandemic.
What has been Siemens’ approach to tackle the changing technology roadmap?
Changing work conditions present an opportunity for our community to increase its skills and abilities with Siemens software. We offered free 30-day subscriptions to our online learning memberships. The community had free access to a rich set of video-based learning, labs and other engaging training content that can improve proficiency in the products they already use and build skills in new Siemens solutions.
A free version of the Mendix application development platform is available for anybody, and many of our solutions are available for free to students and startup companies. Siemens also made available to students and instructors a free 12-month license of the student edition of Mentor’s flagship PADS Professional PCB design software. In addition, we’re working with our customers to enable home use of some of our products.
How has Siemens’ technology helped customers drive business recovery and growth during this time?
In response to the urgent need for ventilators, we’ve seen automotive and aviation leaders including GM, Ford, Virgin Orbit, Israel Aerospace Industries and Vinfast Group start to produce them, as well as Dyson, whose teams have started to manufacture ventilators in the United Kingdom. Also in the UK, teams from across Siemens have joined other manufacturers-including Airbus and Rolls Royce-in a consortium to rapidly scale-up production of ventilators for the NHS. Seven Formula One racing teams have come together as part of Project Pitlane to scale production of existing ventilator designs, as well as reverse engineer existing medical devices. Volkswagen and Faurecia have launched a joint effort to manufacture personal protective equipment.
Are companies leveraging additive manufacturing to tackle the pandemic?
Yes, absolutely. Many companies have turned to additive manufacturing to meet demand for new products. Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Boeing are now 3D printing face shields. Siemens opened its Additive Manufacturing Network to medical providers and 3D printing suppliers and 40 different healthcare entities, 20 engineering companies and 120 new suppliers have joined the network to help design and print needed parts and supplies. After the publication of the Medtronic PB560 ventilator bill of materials, the Siemens Digital Industries Software team has converted, analysed and created the first assembly planning work instructions to help anyone working to create their own ventilator. Some companies are now developing tests and medical devices in weeks instead of months.
Siemens Heathineers has developed a diagnostic that can identify Covid-19 in three hours and Bosch developed a Covid-19 rapid test in six weeks. Abbott Labs quickly brought to market a molecular point-of-care test. Cyient has partnered with Molbio Diagnostics to make Covid-19 testing devices and chips for faster prognosis.