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sts.components.contact.mr.placeholder Sebastian Webel
Mr. Sebastian Webel

Editor-in-Chief

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Pictures of the Future
The Magazine for Research and Innovation
 

From Big Data to Smart Data

Building a Digital Company

Smart data is more important than big data — and smart data is a Siemens specialty. Electrification, and automation through the use of self-learning programs and self-diagnostic and condition-based maintenance systems — the digital transformation is affecting all business fields.

In the future, the most important raw material will be smart data. That’s why Siemens is investing in efficiency-accelerating technologies such as flexible service models and advanced PLM software. As these new digital business models become increasingly powerful, they will transform Siemens into a truly digital company.

Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, has a population of around six million and is growing rapidly. In order to effectively manage its growth, it Riyadh is expanding its public transport system through the construction of a new 175-kilometer subway network. Siemens is helping out by supplying not only 74 driverless Inspiro metro trains for two of the six new lines, but also the electrification, signal, and communication systems to go along with them, as well as the central control technology.

With a value of €1.5 billion, the Riyadh contract is distinguished by across-the-board digitization that builds on an installed base. The WLAN-based signaling and train control technology ensures that especially during rush-hour periods the driverless trains can operate at 90-second intervals, an operating frequency that enables the system to handle 21,000 passengers per hour. Such short intervals will be achieved because the trains’ speeds and braking distances will be used to continually calculate the smallest possible distances between them. Digital control systems will also use route profiles to determine how quickly a train needs to accelerate in order to maintain a safe distance to the train ahead while consuming the least amount of energy possible. All the data that will be generated during ongoing operations will also enable Siemens to ensure that the operation of the subway system can be continuously optimized in line with customer requirements.

Riyadh is expanding its public transport system. For example with 74 driverless Inspiro metro trains from Siemens.

Growth Dynamics

Siemens is a global leader in electrification and automation systems, urban infrastructure, and health care solutions, and is a major driving force behind research and development in these areas. Examples such as the Riyadh subway system illustrate that digital services such as real-time optimized spacing between trains constitutes a major growth dynamic. Indeed, experts here are forecasting growth of seven to nine percent per year for rail-associated digital services. In addition, the market for other digital services, such as data-based forecasts for asset management applications, is expanding rapidly, as is that for vertical software such as Siemens’ Comos data platform for optimizing industrial facilities and syngo medical-imaging software.

Whether it’s the temperature of a flame in a gas turbine, the speed of a locomotive, or the capacity of a power grid — our reality is increasingly being depicted and managed in zeros and ones. This trend can hardly be expected to let up, given the fact that the computing power and data storage and transfer capacity of microchips is expected to increase another thousand-fold over the next 30 years. The consequences of such a development are already apparent, as we can no longer imagine our daily private and professional lives without digital machines. For example, a tablet computer can be used to read newspapers and magazines, turn off the lights in your backyard, control a robot, or monitor an entire power plant.

Siemens is now offering its new asset analytics services so that the condition of machines, production lines, and entire industrial facilities can be monitored online.

Data: Engine of Business Development

Data has no real value in and of itself, of course. Only after it’s placed in the appropriate context can it be used to reshape the world. In other words, smart data is more important than big data — and smart data is a Siemens specialty. Power plant technology, electrification, and automation through the use of self-learning programs and self-diagnostic and condition-based maintenance systems — the digital transformation is affecting all business fields. A good example is offered by gas turbines that are now equipped with hundreds of sensors for measuring temperature, pressure, gas flows, and gas composition. If the resulting values are properly analyzed using intelligent algorithms, it becomes possible to make recommendations to power plant operators that show them how they can further increase the efficiency of their facilities and lower pollutant emissions. This creates true added value, whether in the form of energy savings, more environmentally friendly operations, lower costs, faster processes, or greater reliability.

The new service models from Siemens’ Power Generation Services offer a good example of such an approach. Instead of the common standardized maintenance contracts used in the past, the division can now offer more flexible service contracts (FlexLTP). These take into account each customer’s specific requirements in terms of maintenance scope, intervals, and performance and offer customers greater availability and reliability than can be achieved with traditional maintenance contracts.

However, the power of digitization is most apparent in Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software from Siemens, which is already enabling more than 77,000 customers around the world to efficiently manage all information on the entire lifecycle of a product at a reasonable cost. PLM software can be viewed as both an information tool and a corporate strategy. Asthe former, it provides for a coherent data structure by consolidating different systems. As a corporate strategy, it allows globally operating companies to develop, manufacture, and launch products as a team, while ensuring that best practices and every bit of new knowledge gained are identified and documented. In other words, processes are not only depicted digitally, their creation is the result of digitization. When used in this manner, the ever-present digitization of knowledge becomes an engine of business development.

Toward a Digital Culture

These examples indicate that the application of smart data allows Siemens to develop solutions for a very wide range of business areas. However, this is about much more than “just” business for Siemens. “Our stated goal is to transform ourselves into a digital company,” says Siegfried Russwurm, Member of the Managing Board of Siemens and the Group’s Chief Technology Officer.

As a result, digitization will become a key part of all activities at the company in the future. This will generate major synergies. That’s why Siemens bundled all the technologies needed for its data-driven services in Sinalytics. Sinalytics combines Siemens proven capabilities in remote maintenance and optimization with the latest developments in data analysis, connectivity and cyber-security.

Even though Siemens is already well prepared for the digital age, the transformation of the company into a digital culture – a culture that thinks in digital terms – will continue. For example, agile software development will make it possible to get new computer programs up and running in ever-shorter cycles and in close cooperation with customers. In addition, digital platforms will be further expanded and new standards and digital ecosystems will be further developed with industrial partners. “Siemens is like a house with a solid and very modern foundation,” says Russwurm. “We can use this foundation as a basis for moving ahead with digitization and achieving profitable growth in all of our business areas.”

Hubertus Breuer
Picture credits: Picture gallery: picture 2: dpa