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By Gregory Hale
In an evolving manufacturing enterprise, the key to success is embracing the inevitable which is a stronger, more vital digital future.

It would be easy to remain in the “we have always done it this way” attitude or the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, but the reality is change is coming and it is all about digital.

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“Cyber attacks and vulnerabilities keep executives up, but so does the change of technology,” said Raj Batra, president of the Digital Factory at Siemens during his keynote at the Siemens Automation Summit 2018 in Marco Island, FL. “Technology answers are here. With digital disruption, the race is really on.”

In terms of the digital marketplace, Batra pointed out a few facts:
• There are 77 million wearables in use today with projected revenues of $48.2 billion by 2023
• Digital economy is 6.5 percent of GDP
• 38 percent of CEOs worry about technological change

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One guiding aspect to manufacturers picking up on the movement is there has been strong consumer acceptance of digital disruption, Batra said.

“People are using digital today to do their jobs,” he said.

The digital evolution, as opposed to a revolution, has been in the making for a few decades.

Automation started to build up in the 1990s and then in the 2000s, computers and networking advanced. That all was a prelude to what is happening today with digitalization and adding the digital twin to the value chain.

“Today the technology is here,” Batra said.

What is happening is manufacturers are combining the real world with the virtual world.

Batra pointed out a few industries that are accepting digital disruption.

The auto industry is one where in the past, products were made using a range of non-related solutions. Today, he said, all phases are integrated and there is a shorter time to market.

In food and beverage, in the past there were long product development times. Today there is a high level of flexibility coupled with wide product diversity made to a consistently high standard of quality.

“Holistic plant simulation creates greater flexibility and permits faster commissioning,” he said. “New data transparency enables consistently high quality of end products.”

In the chemical industry, the emphasis has shifted to flexibility and digitalization and smaller batches. Whereas before, plants more rigid and could only produce in large batches.

Some of the key factors for the digital enterprise include:
• Speed to market
• Flexibility
• Efficiency
• Consistent quality
• Security

“Cutting edge technology is how manufacturers will move along today,” he said.

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