Thought Leadership

Learn how smart manufacturing is taking manufacturing to the next level

By Blake Snodgrass
Rahul Garg
Rahul Garg, VP Industrial Machinery and SMB Business Program at Siemens Digital Industries Software

In an IMD article, Rahul Garg, VP for Industrial Machinery & SMB Programs at Siemens Digital Industries Software, discusses how manufacturers are looking for new ways to address the challenges arising from product complexity, evolving sustainability goals and consumer demands for additional customization. Simultaneously, there are the ever-present issues of global competition and supply chain and labor shortages.

>Read the article.

Digitalization is the new counterbalance to achieve new levels of smart manufacturing. Although automation focused on reducing costs in the past, today, digitalization takes manufacturing processes to new levels. It allows manufacturers to deliver more and better data to improve operational efficiencies with many benefits, including high availability, maximized factory utilization, real-time management of supply chains, and improved time to market. Furthermore, it enhances manufacturing flexibility to enable individualized products at mass-produced goods pricing.

Digitalization supports the following capabilities that will lead to smart manufacturing:

  • Converges information technology (IT) with operational technology (OT) – essential for extracting and analyzing data generated during operations, uncovering actionable awareness.
  • Enables closed-loop manufacturing and execution – focusing on creating and optimizing processing and expediting customer orders.
  • Utilize closed-loop quality to ensure products are delivered correctly the first time, no matter the lot size.

OT/IT Convergence is an essential step towards achieving smart manufacturing. Operation technology presides over the operation of the physical equipment, the controls and the technology driving the machines (including PLCs). This software tells the machine what to do and ensures the hardware completes those instructions. Conversely, IT is the computer technology to store, retrieve, process, analyze, and recommend action on digital data extracted from operations. Therefore, management uses IT to make decisions, while operation technology drives factory actions.

Currently, many factories utilize a mix of both old and new equipment. Modern smart machines are designed to share data with a network, while older machines are data islands. Adding network sensors allows a factory to connect those islands, ensuring solid data across manufacturing operations and providing operational data cohesively for IT analysis. In most factories today, data collection is performed via various physical sensing technologies, including PLCs, sensors, gauges, IoT devices, and more.

IT/OT fusion results in more operation flexibility and visibility and better-integrated decision-making by manufacturers. The result is real-time process monitoring on the shop floor, enabling managers to assess the impact of manufacturing activity quickly. Also, this fusion supports collaboration across planning and scheduling and factory performance, which leads to superior efficiency. In addition, AI and machine learning are applied to large data sets, revealing non-conformance and non-regular data to be able to make decisions based on this information.

Learn more in the IMD article about IT/OT convergence, closed-loop manufacturing, and quality for continuous operational improvement.

Siemens Digital Industries Software helps organizations of all sizes digitally transform using software, hardware and services from the Siemens Xcelerator business platform. Siemens’ software and the comprehensive digital twin enable companies to optimize their design, engineering and manufacturing processes to turn today’s ideas into the sustainable products of the future. From chips to entire systems, from product to process, across all industries. Siemens Digital Industries Software – Accelerating transformation.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at