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Our operational units make an important contribution to innovation at Siemens: shaping Siemens’ present and future with market-leading technologies and innovations, and providing the excellent business practices that enable our company to exploit its full potential. Find out more about the current research topics of our Divisions.
At the beginning of the 1990s, only a few hundred medium-sized and large power plants were operating in Germany. In the meantime, the number of electricity suppliers has increased to several million. And this trend is set to intensify around the globe. Future electricity supply systems will consist of millions of small and larger decentralized generation units. The result will be a vast increase in complexity, thus demanding an infrastructure based on an advanced clean energy model that will make “Energiewende 2.0” possible.
From sustainable generation through resource-saving transmission to demand-oriented distribution in networked buildings, production facilities and mobility applications – Siemens’ portfolio already includes electrification solutions that cover the entire energy value chain.
In parallel to this, the company’s researchers have developed technologies that support energy stability and resource conservation in tomorrow’s energy landscape. That landscape will consist of millions of small and larger decentralized generation units. To ensure these cover demand reliably, electronics, power electronics and information and communication technologies will be integrated more than ever, for example through new converter technologies and ever more powerful software.
The more volatile power generation becomes as a result of renewables, the more urgently we will need technologies in the future that enable large volumes of electricity to be stored over a long period. Siemens is focusing on chemical solutions and is also developing electrolytic methods for converting CO2 into compounds such as ammonia, carbon monoxide or ethylene, which are valuable for the chemical industry.
In order to increase industrial value creation, leading companies are working at top speed to realize the next stage of manufacturing – with the aid of digital automation. Companies are aiming to achieve advantages through networked, flexible manufacturing operations that dynamically organize themselves to create extremely customizable products.
Over the course of the next 15 to 20 years, Industrie 4.0 is expected to bring about a paradigm shift that can justifiably be called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Long before Industrie 4.0 became a buzzword, Siemens recognized that manufacturing companies needed to drastically reduce their throughput times and significantly increase their flexibility. The reason for this is the ever growing trend toward customized mass production coupled with the need to reduce the use of raw materials and energy – demands that are being driven by competition.
Our Company set a course for such digital automation of production systems back in 1996 when we introduced the Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) portal. It enabled companies to orchestrate the components of their production activities and tightly integrate software and hardware using, among other things, our programmable Simatic controllers, the global leaders ever since the first system was launched in 1958.
Since then, Siemens has not only constantly enhanced its Simatic range and the features of the TIA portal but is now also pursuing complete digital representation of the physical value chain as its ultimate goal. Specifically, this means providing a portfolio of hardware and software products that supports seamless connection of development, production and suppliers in all areas that are based on data interchange.
Is data the 21st century’s equivalent of oil? Will machines plan their interactions themselves in the production environments of the future? Questions like these are occupying the minds of specialists at Siemens and its customers. What is already clear, however, is that digitalization is the most important growth driver for the future.
Data is not valuable in itself. Only in context is it useful and able to help us re-shape the world. What counts is not big data but smart data. Thanks to our data analytics, which we are already using to monitor and check some 350,000 systems all over the world – systems such as gas turbines, traffic control centers in more than 200 cities and entire skyscrapers – using advanced IT measures to ensure data security.
Digitalization is one of Siemens’ specialties. Power plant technology, electrification and automation through self-learning programs, self-diagnostics and state-based maintenance – the digital transformation covers all of these businesses.
What’s more, we have given substance to the concept of the Internet of Things for Siemens. In our electrification and automation domains – the real world – we have invaluable expertise that we link to the virtual world of digitalization. In our approach, we use web technologies to turn devices and machines into the starting point for digitally-networked industries. Specifically, this means that such technologies do not send unfiltered data to cloud applications, but that they interact with each other and understand each other because the transmitted data includes its meaning. We connect our knowledge from the devices and link it to our expertise from all other sectors. Whether it’s energy suppliers, traffic control centers, buildings, manufacturing or process industries, we can generate added value for our customers. We want to build on advanced technologies like these. We recently polled hundreds of our customers about this. Many said that Siemens is a thought leader when it comes to digitalization. It is, of course, even better to realize the future than just think about it. We are already working on this together with our customers – in the digital and real worlds.
With MindSphere, Siemens links physical products and production facilities with digital data. This allows for innovative solutions, making it possible to bring prod-ucts to market more quickly and more efficiently, with better quality. Designed as a cloud-based, open operating system for the Internet of Things, MindSphere combines device management, simple connectivity, the necessary data storage, and the corresponding infrastructure to perform virtualized data management that can be deployed in the shortest time. Companies can use it as the basis for their own digital services, whether in the areas of predictive maintenance, energy data management, or resource optimization. Mechanical engineers and plant engineers can use the platform to monitor machine fleets spread across the world for service purposes, reduce their downtimes, and offer new business models. MindSphere also forms the basis for data-based services from Siemens, including the predictive maintenance of machine tools and integrated drive systems. MindSphere is yet another important building block in the company’s digitalization strategy, which will make Siemens the leading company for digitalization.
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