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The name Ducati conjures all sorts of pleasant associations among motorbike lovers: passion, design and racing. Let's see how digitalization is making motorbike dreams come true.
Digitalization – the facts
Ducati – a prestigious brand with passionate fans. But passion alone cannot earn the company a single cent. As a result, Ducati has committed itself to innovation and is now profiting from digitalization. Still, Ducati is only one example. You can find others wherever you look: gas turbines, trains or medical imaging technologies: The fusion of the real and digital worlds is reshaping the face of our economy and society, virtually every aspect of them.
Data are the driving forces of this evolution. They act as the raw material of the 21st century and, unlike crude oil, reproduce at lightning speed. Sensors are tracking our world with unparalleled precision. When we do such things as monitor our pulse while jogging or use a navigation system while traveling in our cars, we constantly generate data. Such data are not just produced in our private lives. Industry churns them out as well to do such things as measure the temperature of engines or the load in the electrical grid. Data are continuously measured, stored and analyzed. By 2020, stored data around the world are expected to reach 44 zettabytes, a tenfold increase in seven years. There is no end to this trend in sight. Actually, all indications are pointing in the opposite direction – 180 zettabytes are expected to be reached by 2025.
For Siemens, digitalization involves the application of new technologies like data analysis, Cloud or the Web of Systems. The virtual and real worlds are being fused. In this process, Siemens is working to help its customers boost their productivity along their entire value chain – from design, engineering and operations to production and service. Specifically, this means several things: faster time to market, enhanced flexibility and minimal system downtime.
Digitalization is Siemens' leading growth area, fueling gains of 7 percent to 9 percent annually. Siemens also enjoys a distinct advantage over companies that work strictly with software: the company's hardware is being used around the world – in places like trains, wind power plants and production lines. Siemens intends to complement this hardware business with its software expertise to create added value for its customers. Approximately 17,500 software developers work at the company to perform this job.
The Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter described creative destruction as the golden path to sustained growth. New technologies emerge and clear the way for superior business models that put an end to the old ones. Once, these technologies were known as the steam engine or the automatic loom. Today, the new opportunities created by digitalization are transforming entire markets. One good example is Uber, the new way to get around a city: It is a service that reflects the lifestyles of a globalized society and creatively destroys old structures. Digitalization made its way into the motorcycle business a long time ago. The essence of success in this business – just like with the automotive industry – is development time, model updates and production costs. The Italian motorcycle company Ducati saw that the times were changing and began at an early stage to exploit the digital revolution.
Digitalization is in no way new territory for Ducati. The first NX installation (then still Unigraphics) was put into operation in Bologna as long ago as 1998. Since then, not only has the company's development process fundamentally changed, but the motorbikes boast more and more electronics and software all the time. Andrea Forni, Technical Director at Ducati, explains just how important this issue is.
Mr. Forni, do you have a favorite bike?
Part of my job is to test lots of different types of bikes, both Ducati bikes and those of our competitors that we use as reference. I’m passionate about all Ducati motorbikes, but if I really have to pick a favorite, it would be the 1199 Panigale Superleggera.
What does digitalization have to do with Ducati motorbikes?
The world is becoming more and more digitalized and our products are also following this trend. An obvious example is the way that we design our bikes, making good use of the opportunities provided by digitalization.
Your products already feature software. What advantages does this provide for Ducati riders?
We use software to improve performance as well as safety. For example, depending on the level selected, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) can help an experienced racer to reduce their lap time on the track or can improve safety when riding on low-grip surfaces on open roads. For future products, we will introduce more and more riding assistance systems. Furthermore, we will improve infotainment systems, taking into account the potential that motorbikes can offer, which is quite different to that offered by cars, of course.
Why is digitalization an issue for you as a motorbike manufacturer?
Digitalization gives us the strategic opportunity to improve our products and to optimize the design and development processes for our bikes. Thanks to digitalization, we can very efficiently develop a multitude of projects simultaneously, using a consistent engineering approach. Thanks to digitalization, we can work with our suppliers no matter where they may be located, among other things. This accelerates the development process.
Digitalization fosters the automation of production environments, and completely automated plants are being envisioned. However, craftsmanship is part of Ducati’s philosophy. How do you see this panning out?
The bike assembly process is a very complex process that couldn’t really be fully automated. In production, we use digitalization to help the operators to do their job better and with less effort, not to replace them. Furthermore, manual assembly is a feature that differentiates Ducati from its competitors.
20 years ago, could you have imagined working the way you do today?
The rate at which new technology has developed has been so quick that it would have been very difficult to predict what has happened in just a few years.
"I grew up with motorbikes. That's why I work for Ducati. It's a passion. Digitalization helps us to avoid errors. In the past, we used a classic torque wrench. Nowadays, an electric wrench saves details of every action – for our customers' safety. For me, this is the future."
"Digitalization is making our motorbikes faster and more reliable. I'm proud of that. After all, when you know every individual part of a motorbike, your passion grows. Before I started here, I knew very little about motorbikes. Nowadays, I love riding them! Ducati makes people's dreams come true – and that's something very special."
"Of course I know Siemens – the name is famous around the world! I think it's good that we work together because digitalization gives us new opportunities to become even better. You have to move with the times. Our engines for example are more powerful than ever before. That's important if we're to remain successful."
"I'm a motorbike freak and ride a Ducati myself – like most people here. In the summer, we go out touring together. Naturally, our work is great fun. Digitalization and craftsmanship aren't a contradiction. Progress makes my work easier. I look forward to seeing what the future brings!"
The making of a Ducati
Craftsmanship and passion about the product are essential characteristics of the Ducati mythos. But when you are talking about the bottom line, mythos is hardly a worthwhile investment. This is why digitalization was integrated into Ducati – and why it has rejuvenated the motobike's spirit.
A Ducati is not some run-of-the-mill bike. To see why, you have to look no farther than the name given to the riders of the red two-wheel dream: »Ducatisti.« An unforgettable sound, stunning design and a touch of racing flair – this is the combination that causes the pulse of all Ducatisti to pick up a beat. The motorcycle maker produces 28 models. The Borgo Panigale main plant produced more than 43,000 motorbikes in 2015, and the company itself made over 54,000 bikes around the world – a record for Ducati. In the process, the company applies human muscle in place of robotic power. In Via Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, much of the work is still done by hand. As a result, it takes about 90 minutes to completely assemble a motorcycle.
The company has no intention of abandoning its employees' craftsmanship. At the same time, it knows that it must boost its efficiency and productivity to be successful in its highly competitive business. To meet this challenge, Ducati is working with its strong partner Siemens to digitalize the development process. Siemens' PLM solution has significantly increased the speed of product development. In the past, development was done step by step. With the help of Siemens' NX software, several teams are now working in parallel on the same project. As a result, a new model can be developed much faster, even though the use of electronics and software in the product has been massively increased. Market introduction time has plunged from 40 months to 24 months in the process. The company's product line can now be updated annually. Accessories are also introduced to the market along with the new models. The result: Ducati develops better motorbikes faster without losing the essence of the brand itself – passionate Ducatisti.
Digitalization – looking ahead
Digitalization is Siemens' biggest growth field. In this area, the company is profiting from its long tradition in production technology. Siemens is a strong partner here for its customers as shown by the example Ducati. But the biggest changes are still to come, says Thomas Hahn, Chief Expert Software at Siemens.
Mr. Hahn, as regards development, Ducati relies on digital products and solutions from Siemens. But its production work is largely done by hand. Now tell me the truth: Does this approach really have a future in terms of »Industrie 4.0« and the spread of automation?
Digitalization brings increased flexibility and efficiency to production without compromising quality. New opportunities and business fields are opening up for the production industry. After all, mass production will be able to fulfill more and more individual customer needs. Up to now, you had a clear "either/or" situation in production. Today, you can make the widest range of products in a single plant with minimum retrofitting. But you will certainly still have work done by hand. There are simply products and brands whose customers want it that way.
The possibilities of digitalization are far from exhausted.
Which trends do you expect regarding digitalization?
The possibilities of digitalization are far from exhausted. The specification phase is just getting under way. We still must determine which impact digital change will have on individual steps in the value chain. But you cannot just look at this issue from a purely technical point of view. A political framework must be defined, and it must be done so not simply on a national basis. The Internet knows no borders. For this reason, creating an international framework is extremely important. And, not least, the issue is a social question. Digitalization is changing the world in which we work, and professional career profiles must be modified to reflect this evolution.
What does digitalization mean to Siemens?
The issue has two aspects for us. Siemens operates nearly 300 plants around the world. As a result, we are users of Industrie 4.0 in production and profit from increased efficiency and flexibility. On the other hand, we are a provider of digital products and solutions for the entire value chain. In particular, we offer automation solutions. Entire markets are changing in this regard – a development that we anticipated to a certain degree and we are now able to offer the necessary solutions as a result. You see this most clearly in the service business. Predictive maintenance and remote services are examples of how we offer added value to our customers and profit ourselves from the new business fields.
We call »Industrie 4.0« the next Industrial Revolution. When will the big bang occur?
We call the introduction of the assembly line by Henry Ford in 1913 the Second Industrial Revolution. Back then, there was no big bang that changed everything. Assembly-line production was a success model that quickly spread. Looking back, we clearly see that this change represented a revolution. In a similar fashion, digital change will gradually result in a revolution, and industry will be changed forever as a result. We at Siemens saw this coming. Today, around 17,500 software developers are working on connecting the real and virtual world. Specifically, this means that we are adding a digital dimension to our sweeping industry knowledge and our manufacturing know-how. This makes us a strong partner for our customers.
The Hypermotard 939 SP
Passion and Siemens software - where else could such a partnership be better forged than in Italy? It is a partnership that is producing singular motorbikes that excite people around the world. Bikes like the Hypermotard 939 SP that a thrilled Ducatisto is riding from Bologna to Munich.