Ordering a new car means decision time: How much horsepower do you want? A diesel or a gasoline engine? Or maybe electric? The choices don’t stop there: You can choose your favorite color and the type of upholstery, you can decide to have a sunroof if you like, and you can select an entertainment system. These choices alone are representative of the highly complex nature of automobile production processes. For quite some time, car manufacturers have been relying on digitalization tools to help keep these processes under control.
Digitalization makes the inherent complexity of producing cars significantly more manageable – and it helps save money. Volvo Cars, for example, was able to halve its engineering costs by using a software solution to plan and simulate its production lines. And Japanese car manufacturer Nissan managed to almost halve its development time for a new vehicle by using Siemens CAD and collaboration software.
As these examples show, the real and virtual worlds are now beginning to merge in the production world. This is being referred to as the fourth Industrial Revolution, or “Industrie 4.0.” Digital Enterprise is the product portfolio that Siemens offers for this area already today. The idea of digital production has been widely adopted, not only by the automotive industry but also by companies in industries as diverse as machine tooling and printing. One thing these companies have in common is that they are often large and sometimes have offices and production sites in locations all over the world. In contrast, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been slow to embrace digitalization technologies.