'Digital thread & digital twin tech will be game changers for manufacturing'

'Digital thread & digital twin tech will be game changers for manufacturing'
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  • Digitalisation and automation have been game-changers for manufacturers in achieving post-pandemic business goals.
  • Over two-thirds of companies that have implemented IoT would have deployed at least one digital twin in production by 2022.
  • Digitalisation will help Indian manufacturers to compete in local and global markets.
What does manufacturing look like in the post-COVID world? While the sector faced unforeseen challenges in the last two years, the pandemic has been a watershed event for technology in the sector. Suprakash Chaudhuri, Head- Digital Industries, Siemens India, believes that the need to converge the digital and the real worlds was felt most strongly during this time.

In an exclusive chat with Business Insider India, Chaudhuri spoke in great detail about how the manufacturing sector is digitally transforming itself with the use of technologies like digital twin, industrial internet of things (IIoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and a lot more.

Here are excerpts from an interview.

Manufacturing has propelled into a completely new era post the pandemic. What do you consider as the biggest changes that transformed the industry during this period?

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The COVID-19 pandemic was a revelation for the industry at large. It exposed the entire world, irrespective of their technology adoption, to deal with – rapidly-changing market conditions, a soaring global population requiring dependable supplies, and simultaneously, an increasingly urgent need for greater sustainability. With the global pandemic now in its third year, most business leaders continue to face significant challenges, but also unprecedented opportunities if fully realised.

Digitalisation came forward as the clear gamechanger to tackle these challenges. The need to combine the real and digital worlds, including the entire value chains, became evident. Unlocking the full potential of digitalisation and automation with innovative solutions ensures lower costs, shorter production cycles, increase in resilience and makes carbon costs more transparent.

While players have been rapidly adopting digitalisation and automation, what do you see as the most critical gaps of industrial digital transformation at this stage? How is Siemens collaborating with companies to help accelerate this goal?


All industries are feeling the pressure of digital transformation. We are addressing the challenges our customers face through deep, process-centric solutions.

Siemens is delivering next-generation solutions to help manufacturers transform their operations through our concept of Digital Thread – which is a distinct, linked, traceable sequence of activities in the product or production lifecycle, that is digitised and automated. There are two dimensions to this digital integration. One is horizontal integration. It is the integration of the digital flow from the digital twin of the product through the digital twin of production, then to the real production and the digital twin of performance. And then we have the second one, the so-called vertical integration between OT (Operational Technology) and IT (Information Technology). Secure communication, resulting in a secure exchange of data between OT and IT, is the backbone of digitalisation.

With our deep domain know-how and vertical experience, we are helping our customers create a blueprint for their digital transformation across these vertical and horizontal dimensions and co-create solutions.

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in the industry often find it challenging to work with legacy systems and siloed approaches in a manufacturing environment. How is Siemens helping change this? Can you give us some examples?

With consumers wanting more customised products and markets being shorter-lived than ever, companies must plan for shorter innovation cycles than in the past. Production facilities need to be designed with enough resilience and flexibility to scale up, then scale down—often in record time. Brownfield optimization of existing facilities using adaptable technology is as important as repairing and retrofitting services, as well as data analysis and predictive services solutions. Software and software-enabled hardware are increasingly becoming key competitive factors in plants with limited resources and legacy equipment. Our Digital Enterprise offerings address this across the entire value chain. The Digital Enterprise brings together processes that were previously separate. It breaks down traditional silos and helps bridge the gaps between software and hardware, IT and OT, shop floor and top floor.

Recently, Siemens and BioNTech expanded our collaboration for rapid expansion and creation of production capacity for global COVID-19 vaccine production with our latest automation and digitalisation technology.

What were the key focus areas of Hannover Messe 2022, where future technologies are showcased?

This year we addressed the most persistent question of driving sustainable growth. Under the motto: “Let’s combine real and digital worlds for a sustainable tomorrow,” we showcased examples of how to achieve these goals and become a true Digital Enterprise.

We demonstrated successful cases of using data more intelligently to combine the real and virtual worlds with the support of various technology highlights in the field of additive manufacturing, energy efficiency, digital twin, OT/IT convergence, artificial intelligence and data analytics, cybersecurity, electrification, industrial 5G, and industrial IoT from Edge to cloud. As the highlight, we demonstrated how an electric car manufacturer is achieving performance and driving range goals, while also meeting sustainability and profitability targets using our solutions.

How do you see digital twin as a technology and its adoption evolving in the coming days, especially, outside the manufacturing arena?

We see digital twin adoption in all kinds of organisations. However, its adoption in the manufacturing space is the most exciting. For example, Gartner expects over two-thirds of companies that have implemented IoT would have deployed at least one digital twin in production by 2022, to increase their effectiveness.

Digital twin is simple and yet an immensely powerful interpretation of Industry 4.0. As a virtual representation of a product, production process, or performance, it enables the individual process stages to be seamlessly linked. This creates a consistent improvement in efficiency, minimises failure rates, shortens development cycles, and opens up new business opportunities. In other words, it creates a lasting competitive edge. Over the years, Siemens has shown the benefits of combining the real and digital worlds and how it works in practice.

India is evolving as a global manufacturing hub. What does Siemens’ roadmap look like?

The Indian manufacturers have the aptitude and attitude to meet the growing needs. Adopting the right technology can make India self-reliant. With digitalisation, Indian Industry, especially SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) can achieve constant technical progress as well as the competence to meet the changing requirements of both local and global markets.

The openness to adopt the latest technologies like AI, Edge and other IIoT solutions will be critical to India’s desire to maintain pace with global best practices and technologies. Using our efficient, digital workflows, innovative technologies and our rich domain expertise, we are enabling our customers to react quickly to changing market requirements and increase productivity, efficiency, and quality - sustainably.