As the digitalization of the world economy progresses, Siemens plans to be ever closer to its customers to help them realize the potential of this revolution. Starting in 2017, the company began establishing 20 Mindsphere Application Centers across around 50 locations in 17 countries globally with about 900 software developers, data specialists, and engineers. After Germany, the largest footprint of these centers is found in the United States with eight centers in Austin, Atlanta and other cities. There customers can design and implement digital solutions for data analysis and machine learning with a special focus on Mindsphere, Siemens’ open, cloud-based operating system for the Internet of Things (IoT).
On March 27 Siemens held its U.S. Innovation Day 2018 at the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) in Chicago. Under the theme of ‘Unlocking the Potential of Digitalization’, Siemens successfully demonstrated its approach to taking the Fourth Industrial Revolution from concept to reality to more than 150 attendees, including journalists, industry and financial analysts, and customers.
Siemens’ largest Market in the World
It comes as no surprise that the U.S. plays an important role for Siemens’ global innovation initiatives. Siemens has been doing business in the US for more than 160 years. The United States is the company’s largest market in the world and has played a big role in its digital reinvention. Leveraging America’s software leadership – including through acquisitions – has transformed Siemens into one of the world’s top-10 software companies today.
Against this background Siemens hosted its annual U.S. Innovation Day under the theme of ‘Unlocking the Potential of Digitalization’ at the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) in Chicago. The Innovation Day 2018 was the second of a global event series focusing on Siemens’ regional innovative engagements. The first one took place in Siemens’ headquarters in Germany last December, the third will take place in April in the United Arab Emirates – all of them highlighting the global digital transformation, which at the same plays out differently in various parts of the world. “With the arrival of the Internet of Things in industry and infrastructure, many organizations are still trying to understand how to incorporate digital strategies into their business models,” said Roland Busch, Chief Technology Officer and Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG at the event. “At Siemens, we’re combining our deep expertise in automation and electrification with our unique industrial software offering to enable our customers to leverage digital solutions for their specific needs.”
Research Centre Chicago
The event location itself was a good example for the relevance the U.S. has for Siemens. The City of Chicago saves millions of dollars by retrofitting its water supply with Siemens technology. Additionally, Siemens is teaming up with Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) to help build and test software that will allow the utility to manage clusters of microgrids simultaneously. And in Chicago Siemens also invested $13 million in a new digital R&D hub focused on cloud-based and Internet of Things application development to support building management.
At the Innovation Day itself attendees saw everything from a race car – driven by NASCAR superstar Jimmie Johnson – designed with Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software, to presentations on next-generation Autonomous Agricultural Pods (AgPods), digital factory spaces and an e-aircraft powered by a prototype electric propulsion technology for planes. They learned how, by using Siemens digital twin software, companies can reduce their product development time from months to weeks – like the startup RadioBro, which is establishing its IoT device business in the aviation and aerospace industry with an unparalleled time-to-market. Siemens also presented a breakthrough solution for autonomous driving that minimizes the need for extensive physical prototyping while dramatically reducing the number of logged test miles necessary. “Automakers are quickly realizing that physical prototypes and road testing alone cannot reproduce the multitude of complex driving scenarios self-driving cars will encounter,” said Dr. Jan Leuridan, senior vice president, Simulation and Test Solutions, Siemens PLM Software.
Siemens’ emphasis on innovation in the U.S. is also mirrored in numbers: The company has expanded its innovation pipeline by securing over 15,000 patents in the U.S. and submitting more than 1,000 U.S. invention disclosures in 2017 alone. The company is also on a hiring spree: It has more than 1,500 open jobs across the United States, most of which require some software or STEM-related education. Hand in hand with this the company has increased its U.S. R&D investment by $175 million year over year to $1.3 billion dollars annually, a 16 percent increase with a strong focus on digital innovation.
The next Generation of Digital Advances
Finally, innovation also means new minds creating the next generation of digital advances. Therefore, at the Innovation Day Siemens announced that it will collaborate with five leading U.S. universities to host on-campus ‘FutureMakers Challenges’ to bolster its innovation pipeline and empower the nation’s top talent from Carnegie Mellon University, University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
In April, teams of undergraduate and doctoral students at each university will develop next-generation software concepts that are MindSphere ready around emerging technologies and trends based on Siemens’ R&D portfolio, university core competences, and market-driven needs. “We often hear today that robots – not humans – will lead the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution”, said Siemens U.S. CEO Lisa Davis. “But it’s never been an either-or-choice. We need to have both. We need as much human intelligence as artificial.”