The infinite possibilities with Siemens Industrial IoT.

I recently listened to a great topic from a panel of experts that certainly opens all our thinking to all the possibilities ahead of us in the Industrial IoT world.

At the Siemens Digital Enterprise Virtual Experience, held in the Hannover Messe 2021 week, entitled “Infinite opportunities from infinite data”, one specific panel discussion stood out.

When you have three leading experts offering insights into a new world of industrial possibilities, you do expect some exciting opinions from each of these leaders in their specialized area.  You hope and get some fascinating insights.

The discussion was between Rainer Brehm, CEO Siemens Digital Industries Factory Automation, Raymond Kok, Senior Vice President, Cloud Application Solutions and Derek Roos, the Co-founder and CEO of Mendix, the low-code application and development platform, facilitated by Sebastian Wolf, the Senior Marketing Director for Siemens MindSphere.

IT and OT have been notoriously hard to bring together.

Although there have been significant developments in recent years, far too many solutions and individual knowledge understanding stay in silos. Siemens’ approach is to bring together the virtual and real worlds, recognizing the “play of the infinity loop” to optimize and simulate the digital world as applied in the real world to learn.

This panel discussed how this solution would work in this real world to optimize its digital twin model and bring together the domain expert (OT) with the digital aspect (IT). This digital model approach will bring completely new opportunities in the advancement of manufacturing, advancing processes as manufacturers are looking to ride the next S curve of productivity.

Today many manufacturers still have no comprehensive plan for digitalizing their operations. As the recent crisis showed, it was flexible, connected, and digitally ready manufacturers who were flexible and highly adaptive to react, respond, keep operating, and even raise their production to meet radically different demands.

Siemens is not just a provider of digital solutions.

Its history and reputation are in building, designing and producing technology solutions for customers worldwide. The term “eating your own dogfood,” in the software industry, comes to mind here, means using the code you’re developing for your own daily needs: basically, being a user as well as a developer.

As advancements are made, it offers customers new solutions on what can they now do they could not do before. As IoT connects the physical world, then to the IT world, you can empower a large community of developers (IT / OT) to evolve the business side to do new things. The interoperability potential of both unlocking workforce and domain knowledge into the (digital) mix to turn this into finding new business solutions.

So why is this important? Producers are constantly under cost pressure; customers expect personalized, high-quality, safe, healthy, affordable, and eco-friendly products. The game-changer for resolving complexity is the integration of digitalization, automation and new technologies. Batches or production runs need to be more customized, highly flexible and able to speed up development cycles from design concept to finished product to meet the rapid demand changes.

In the past production, runs were set up just to run continuously. Today that manufacturing philosophy is outdated for most industries. Rapid response is increasingly reliant on digitally connected environments. This move from “static” to “flexible” operations. They need the optimization provided by managing both in this physical and digital world to plan this and enable even more business models.

The panel suggests we are moving into a far more goal-based, not rule-based environment with the IT and OT’s combined convergence to allow their worlds to merge, enabling technologies and greater collaboration to take place.

In Siemens, their IIoT stack sits in the middle of this convergence. It brings together the edge; it provides IIoT as a service and offers visibility to all involved.  It becomes the core to transforming a digitally connected enterprise.

The key is to search for the integrated value, think big on possibilities, start small in experimentation and collective learning and then make the scaling out fast to generate the return on investments to create the impact demonstrated in this.

Today it is all about interplay.

The interplay between software and hardware, the IT and OT experts, the solution “stack” that manages, stores, and enables the simulation and optimization required of operating in the digital and physical world of infinite possibilities.

As operators start to contextualize the data, they gain insights. In unlocking data through machine learning, it brings a greater understanding to more people, from the shop floor to the top floor. It is through exploiting all these stacks (shown above)

Each manufacturing environment is unique.

It is the interoperability of technologies and solutions coming together for a common goal of delivering customer impact in the finding of new solutions to generate new business models and offer digital experiences to all involved to have a greater understanding and transparency. It is finding the integrated value and planning out the new landscape to optimize and stimulate.

Insights need to lead to action. The need is to connect data, take it and apply it in more valuable ways; this could be in process optimization, predictive maintenance. It could be in new innovative concepts, different shop floor designs combining AI, Robots, Humans to work in other, more intelligent ways.

The IT / OT convergence

Siemens is taking a holistic approach to enable your IIoT business by combining three solution stacks that offer versatile and robust industrial IoT solutions- Industrial edge, Mindsphere and Mendix. The new stack supplies speed, scalability and versatility. This solution set is following on from the recent launch of the Siemens Industrial Edge.

With Industrial Edge, you leverage machine data in real-time and at scale to improve processes. Mindsphere helps you maximize the benefits of industrial data with AI and advanced analytics in the cloud. And with Mendix, you have application development capabilities to hand, even without coding experience.

This solution set is about unlocking the interplay of the different solutions found in the solutions to transform your business into a Digital Enterprise.

The aim is to take IT technology and make it industrialized for broader connectivity, optimization, and insights.

This solution stack takes a total view from the shop floor firstly in machines, processes and data connectivity, and data from products in the field. Then along with Mindsphere, the application and cloud-based analytics with low-code application capabilities development from Mendix, it enables an integrated portfolio of software, services and application development platforms.

Where should one start in building the Digital Enterprise?  

The panel’s advice, do not overthink, get going quickly, start learning and empower your people to discover the solutions that give impact and return and making sure you remove all the unnecessary friction.

As Derek Roos nicely put it, “Remove the friction”. It is about unlocking the interplay of the different solutions found in this combined stack to help you transform your business.

This solution stack combines the two worlds of digital and domain knowledge through connecting digital to physical in the digital twin solution. Siemens makes the OT world accessible to the IT world and vice versa in intuitive ways; they become more empowered and create the future potential, more assessable and valuable.

The goal here is in unlocking and translating insights into new business value. Achieving real impact and return to enable the existing and potential new business to find new opportunities and models. The ability for clients to find a unique competitive advantage combining the two worlds of digital and physical.

Resources and links

Explore your infinite possibilities now: 👉

Disclaimer: This article is published in partnership with Siemens. Siemens is paying for my engagement, not for promotional purpose. Opinions are my own. #SIEx








The Need for an Electrical Digital Twin

Providing a digital twin solution in manufacturing is becoming a critical part of managing the complexity of the environment that entities have to increasingly operate within.

As digital twins become critically important, entities are beginning to adopt this “twinning” concept dramatically, and within the Energy Transition we are undertaking, it will be no different.

A digital twin enables a Utility, for example, to visualize its assets, track the constant changes occurring consistently, and make better decisions on the performance optimization.

Wikipedia offers a useful clarification of the Digital Twin.

“A digital twin is a digital replica of a living or non-living physical entity. By bridging the physical and the virtual world, data is transmitted seamlessly, allowing the virtual entity to exist simultaneously with the physical entity.

Digital twin refers to a digital replica of potential and actual physical assets (physical twin), processes, people, places, systems, and devices that can be used for various purposes.

The digital representation provides both the elements and the dynamics of how an Internet of things device operates and lives throughout its life cycle. Digital twins integrate the internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and software analytics with spatial network graphs to create living digital simulation models that update and change as their physical counterparts change.”

As the energy transition is presently undergoing such radical changes, the managing of energy and especially grid management is getting highly complex and the digitalization of this is becoming vital to manage differently. Why?

Continue reading

The battle of the energy ecosystems

We are currently locked into a ‘battle of ecosystems.’ where our very existence is requiring one side to win, it simply must, to be more dominant.

This ecosystem battle is between those that are highly vested in the fossil-based energy supply system of today and those that are forcing change into a more renewable reliant energy system as quickly as possible.

We are pushing so much of the principles and theories of ecosystems to the maximum test in the outcomes we wish to achieve, in the energy transition we require.

We are determining our future planet and what defines a healthy ecosystem in a very ad-hoc, self-determining way. The ambitions of so many vested interests need fresh evaluations in any new socio-economic structure. We must bring these two competing energy views into a balance. A balance that allows the planet to return to one where we, as humans, can be more in harmony with all that is around us, in the air we breathe, in sharing this earth in its diversity of resources, living creatures, and what it offers in natural wonder. Continue reading

A dark day for the climate and the fight over global warming?

Sadly, yesterday, 4th November 2019, the United States began the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, notifying the UN of its intention to leave.

The notification starts a one-year process of exiting the global climate change accord, culminating the day after the 2020 US election.

The Paris agreement brought together 188 nations to combat climate change. The Paris accord agreed in 2015, committed the US and 187 other countries to keep rising global temperatures below 2C above pre-industrial levels and attempting to limit them even more, to a 1.5C rise. Climate change, or global warming, refers to the damaging effect on the atmosphere of gases, or emissions, released from industry and agriculture.

In a publication “The Paris Climate Agreement versus the Trump Effect: Countervailing Forces for Decarbonisation,”  IIEA Senior Fellow Joseph Curtin argues that the “Trump Effect” has created a powerful countervailing force acting against the momentum which the Paris Agreement on climate change hoped to generate. The real concern is that this decision will give instability and uncertainty until broader and deeper structural factors within the US political economy can be addressed as their (the USA) issues around energy resourcing, infrastructure, and urbanization are as much in crisis as anyone else. Can this national determination by the present administration go against the tide of so many? Continue reading

The Orchestration Role in Any Business Ecosystem Design

This visual has held my attention for a reasonable time. It deals, in my mind, with orchestration well for reflecting the managing of a business ecosystem and how to organize the partners and parts within this.

Although its original intention was a digital orchestration, it tells the story for any orchestration of platforms or working within ecosystems that a business needs to manage.

Here the model is a singular operating model, but applying this to a collaborative environment, it has most of the essential components that need true orchestrating.

There is a growing body of work about “orchestration” and its need in the business world. Orchestration has become synonymous with managing or dealing with (specifically) external partners, where the need is to learn to cooperate to produce something different and original, usually in a platform and some form of ecosystem arrangement.

I am continually reading about scale, modular structures, governance, the advantage of asset-light business models where the possibilities of speed and breadth of open innovation need to “kick-in.” Orchestration can take on a lot, but we do need to define the role a little more, in my opinion.

I often wonder if all this orchestration through ecosystem design does achieve that radical breakthrough or have simply become just another solution or coordinating mechanism and a convenient “tag” to attach to it to consider? Continue reading

Grappling with complex ecosystems, energy transitions, and planet earth.

It has been fashionable to “hang” any network of relationships with the ecosystem tag; it has become the de jour or trendy label to suggest this announced initiative indicates it is complicated and highly valuable.

Well, in all honesty, most ecosystem “tags” are only an extension of building out a more significant community than the one previously, looking to deal with increasing complexity and expecting commercial gain, well that alone is not an ecosystem approach.

Ecosystems fascinate me; they do have a significant opportunity to change what is existing for something new. The need is to balance the healthy interactions and the conditions for that environment to flourish. Of course, many people might argue, “so what is wrong with what we have got?” Often I can’t disagree with this view, we do replace what works seemingly well because of our need to leave our own “footprint” in the world.

In Business we have “stolen” this ecosystem concept from its original meaning: “An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscape, work together to form a bubble of life.”

In business terms, we have taken this into these larger communities that interact through their network connections; they are dynamic or aim to be better than the previous structure. Continue reading