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JOAN FRANÇÁS, Vice-chairman and Managing- Director of Siemens Industry Software Spain and Portugal

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“SIEMENS CONTROL SYSTEMS AND INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS INCREASE THE INDUSTRY’S PRODUCTIVITY AND ITS COMPETITIVENESS”
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Joan Francàs, Vice-chairman and Managing- Director of Siemens Industry Software, welcomed us together with Ludmila Mastromonaco, Marketing Manager of Siemens PLM in Spain and Portugal at the Siemens Stand at BIEMH
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The acronym PLM covers a variety of contents: product data management, CAD, CAE… How can we convey to the public what PLM is, with everything it includes?

From Siemens’ standpoint, PLM is the compendium, the complete database of any product, from an airplane to a pen. In a collaborative environment, the engineer who starts designing a product and has an idea, has CAD, CAM, CAE, etc. tools at his/her disposal. He/she has all the data on that product, the lists of materials, etc. and monitors the product throughout its lifecycle, from design, through manufacturing, to maintenance. With complete traceability, so that, at any moment of design, or of manufacturing, data can be recovered, as they are in PLM, in the case of Siemens, at Teamcenter.

Does the product lifecycle management software (PLM) help companies innovate?

PLM can be regarded as both am information strategy and a corporate strategy. As an information strategy, it generates a coherent data structure by consolidating systems. As a corporate strategy, it allows global companies to work with a single team, as part of product design, production, support and removal, while always benefiting from recommended practices and acquired experience. It provides your company the ability to make unified decisions based on information at every stage of the product’s lifecycle.

PLM solutions comprise a unified digital platform for:

  • Optimizing relations throughout the lifecycle and among companies.
  • Establishing a single recording system providing support to the various data needs, so that the appropriate people see the correct information at the appropriate time, and within the proper context.
  • Maximizing the value of the useful life of your company’s product portfolio.
  • Increasing your gross revenues thanks to repeatable processes.

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Lately there has been talk about “Industry 4.0″ Is Siemens lined up with this concept?

Industry 4.0 is a very broad concept, one that first emerged in Germany. The German ministry of industry believes we are heading toward the 4th industrial revolution, and that we are already experiencing it. Hence the name 4.0, as this involves several companies, very important industrial companies, among them Siemens. A sort of vision of the future is being prepared, what is the direction of this revolution, what the industry will have to do, in this case German industry, to adjust its production model to the future.

Industry will change and the production process will change drastically due to several factors. However, the main factor is that we will have to manufacture products more quickly, in a more diverse manner, in mass, just like we used to manufacture, while adjusting this production to consumer tastes, which will change or which will be different, but varied.

Consumer tastes influence production processes of something so complex as if it were vehicles, with countless variations, because we are left out if we are unable to provide a rapid response. To mass-produce such customized vehicles, the production process must include flexibility to change, to adjust the production lines to the various editions of new vehicles. While this happens in the automotive industry, which is the most digital and technological, the same occurs in any other scope.

Still, another complexity exists. Prior to the 4th industrial revolution, it was said that any company had to manufacture a lot and cheap. For instance, “Kodak,” which was the best at the product it manufactured, photo camera film, was unable to adapt its production model to the new life we have: Internet, Internet on devices, Instagram, social media, etc. In 2012, “Kodak” called a meeting of creditors. Since 2014, it has been undergoing a restructuring process; however, manufacturers emerge which did not exist as the manufacturers of optical lenses for mobile devices.

In the 3rd industrial revolution, we changed our production processes, but we took too long to do it, as was the case with “Kodak.” Now, everything happens much more quickly. For example, the “IPAD” positioned itself in the market only in few years.

We have been using the Internet for 20 years now. However, we use it for our social media, for personal data, Wikipedia, but not for industry. What happens now is that products (mobile phones, cars, robots, etc.) are increasingly using the Internet. For instance, vehicles’ GPS systems use the Internet to connect to tracking systems, which will increasingly be used. This generates what we call “big data”, a boom of product and industry data found in the cloud, on the Internet. All this is what is known as the “Internet of things.”

It will get to the point where cars will talk with each other. Your refrigerator will connect to your mobile phone to say there is no milk, knowing your favourite milk and whether or not you suffer from celiac disease. Your home will call to let you know that the temperature is going to be one degree lower because the weather forecast calls for a high of 25 degrees, or that the house will be turning down the heating because energy consumption is too high. That is the “Internet of things,” because devices talk with each other and generate a dynamic cloud of consumption behaviour. Companies wanting to gain market share will have to include satellite systems, motion sensors, etc.

Siemens is the leader in this industrial scenario, thanks to the development of a new generation of solutions that bring together operating systems, while automating production performs and thus allowing for optimized manufacturing processes. Software and IT solutions, control systems and innovative products by Siemens increase the industry’s productivity and its competitiveness, while significantly reducing costs and allowing more flexible resources.

By applying this theory to industrial design, can we expect what is known as MBE (Model-Based Engineering), that is, will old 2D plans tend to disappear and will all the necessary data appear on the 3D file?

This is no longer part of the future, but of the present. In fact, at Siemens, the image that we have of the production process scanning is a paperless factory. One of the benefits that our solutions present is that we try to make them open platforms, in two regards:

–     That they are technologically modular: that it is possible to build based on 1 existing module.

–     That it is possible to work with files and data from our competition.

For instance, in Spain, in the automotive industry, we have been highly successful with our PLM, TeamCenter. Four of the five major suppliers use it and work for all manufacturers, some of which still use the Catia, as we can integrate the data with the NX without any problems.

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With regard to training, in terms of software at institutes and universities, what answer do you get from management in Spain and Portugal?

We have an educational strategy based on collaboration among the company, the university and the training centres.

In Portugal we have a Siemens academy at the Leiria Polytechnic Institute; with the Ministries of Education and of Economic Affairs, we have concluded an agreement so that Solid Edge, one of our design products, can be a benchmark in that which we call “Portuguese design.”

In Spain it is more difficult because there are 17 autonomous regions, each with its own individual management. We have an institutional agreement Euskadi, with the previous Basque government, also with Solid Edge and with vocational training centres (Tekniker). What we do is to provide all those centres with design tools. We have agreements with universities, not with all of them, but, rather, with some that are strategically selected, for example, the Barcelona faculty of engineers (UPC), that of Valencia, that of Madrid, among others.

When a company decides to use Siemens systems at the technical office and at the production department, what learning curve do these programs have?

Actually, it depends on each company and on the corresponding training level. We try to pass on to customers that the most practical aspect involves their starting little by little. With a small project which can comprise CAD management. Having product design data in the PLM and, from there, being able to modify the materials list, product data, etc. After the technical office is prepared with Siemens technology, we can move on to the factory. For this step, workers need relatively little training. We make quite an effort to make user interfaces pleasant. In a short period of time, it is possible to put into production a Siemens PLM system. Naturally, that depends on the company’s structure. A more complex structure takes longer but, given our expertise, in the Spanish SMEs, the implementation is fast.

I try to convey a sense of urgency and not emergency at each Spanish company I visit, in order to attain what they seek to be, by telling them that they have to make their decisions, that they need to invest in technology or else they won’t be productive.

Every year, Siemens moves ahead with new technologies. What are the current development trends?

Siemens has taken a step forward in the world of digitizing. To meet the challenge of “Industry 4.0,” in the last few years it has acquired companies in the software industry.

The future strategy includes continuing to make more acquisitions and with its own solutions, by investing in R+D+l to benefit our current and future customers, while endowing industry in Spain and the rest of the world with the ability to digitize its production process and, thus, making them more productive and competitive, in that which is known as the 4th industrial revolution.

We have the capability, the technology, the perfect idea and plan to help companies take that step, from design to manufacturing.