Thought Leadership

Digital maturity in industrial manufacturing – Episode 1 transcript

By Bianca Ward

Chris Pennington: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Siemens Digital Transformation Podcast series. I’m your host, Chris Pennington, global industry marketing leader for industrial machinery at Siemens Digital Industries Software. In this episode of the Digital Transformation Series, our experts will discuss the significance of digital maturity in the industrial machinery market and where organizations can begin their journey.

Today I’m joined by two colleagues from Siemens Digital Industries Software Rahul Garg, the Vice President for Industrial Machinery and the SMB program alongside Todd Tuthill, Vice President for Aerospace and Defense Strategy. Raul’s 25-year career includes delivering global software-based solutions for product engineering and manufacturing innovation. Todd, welcome to the podcast.

Before we begin our discussions, Todd would you give us a brief introduction and tell our listeners about your role at Siemens?

Todd Tuthill: Sure, Chris. Thanks for sharing your podcast. It is fabulous to be on with you. I like to say my favorite things to talk about are aerospace and digital transformation. I guess maybe I need to add industrial machinery that list today too, but I’m the Vice President for Aerospace and Defense Industry here at Siemens. I’ve been here about two years. If listeners could see me, you could see my gray hair. I’ve been in the industry for a while.

I was in aerospace. I’ve been in aerospace for 30 years prior to coming to Siemens. I am a systems design engineer. I design aircraft. That’s what I’ve spent my life doing and did a lot of that for military and commercial aircraft for many companies. I’ve had people recognize work for Boeing. I’ve work for Raytheon and with a lot of other companies and on a lot of other projects.

But I always loved digital transformation and a couple years ago I got the opportunity to jump from industry into this role here at Siemens. And I’m just having a blast, so I can’t wait to talk to you guys today. This is going to be fun.

Chris Pennington: That’s great. thanks for your enthusiasm there. And I’d like to begin the discussion by asking what are some of the challenges driving manufacturers and machine builders to improve their digital maturity role? Would you mind taking this on first, Rahul?

Rahul Garg: Yeah, Chris. This is something that we have been talking about for some time now. The drive for automation and the drive to improve speed and performance has been one of the big factors but we need customers to think about digital transformation. How do they can do things better and differently.

The industry of industrial machinery is an old industry, hundred’s years old and now they are fully recognizing that they have to do things differently. Doing the same things by making small incremental changes is not going to be sufficient and issues like labor shortages, operational cost, energy consumption are huge challenges over there. Being able to adopt those new technologies in a way that sets them up for the future or some very complex set of challenges and complexities that these customers are going through is getting them to say take a step back and say, “hey we need to come up with a more holistic approach on how we do this transformation within our own organization.”

Now, as you can imagine, this whole process of transformation actually looks very different in many companies and very different across industries as well. In fact, one of the reasons we wanted to hear from Todd today was his experiences in the aerospace industry and how customers in aerospace have adopted the concept of digital transformation and what are they doing about it.

Todd, maybe if you can share some of your thoughts there.

Todd Tuthill: Sure, it’s as Rahul said. We’ve been working in digital transformation for a while, and we’ve developed a framework at Siemens. It actually started in the aerospace industry, but we’re now branching it out to multiple industries. It’s a simple framework. It’s five steps and I like to say that it helps companies understand one, where they are today and two, where they should go next. Because companies ask all the time.

OK, I get it. I’ll pick on Siemens a little bit since I can do that. I work for Siemens now. Before I worked for Siemens, I was the Siemens customer, and I went to a lot of Siemens events. I’m going to bet that I had a similar feeling to what some of the industrial machinery companies have. I’d go and see all these flashy big images and 3D stuff and cool technology and think “oh my gosh”. And I’d go back to my company and say, “gee, if I could just convince the people in my shop to start using models instead of paper, that would be a miracle.”

That’s where I was at and I started thinking, how do companies say, “how do I get from using paper and kind of the things I’ve been doing forever? How do I get there to where Siemens is pointing?” That was the purpose of developing this framework. To answer that question. How do companies take that journey? Because, as we say, digital transformation, isn’t it just a destination, it’s a journey. It’s the path.

These five steps help companies understand that and that they kind of measure where you’re at and where you’re going. Those five steps are configure, connect, automate, generate, and optimize. Those are the five steps and just to very briefly describe how they work there. Again, they’re the way we recommend companies approach the journey of digital transformation.

The first one is configuration. It’s where I was trying to get the machine shop in my company. I was ready 10-15 years ago to make the jump from paper to model, so it’s where companies make that first leap of digitizing the workflows that they do using models instead of paper, and also then have a way to store data and configure it so they can understand what changed. And that’s the first step companies need to take to really have digital infrastructure in their company to store their information.

And of course, once you do that, you can say, OK, great, I can configure what I have. Let’s do some interesting digital things with it, and that’s where the second step comes in, which is connection. This is where we start connecting one domain to the other because when you look at the development of any kind of product, any kind of large product, be it an automobile or a rocket or jet or industrial machinery or anything you want to put in that that box, it’s complex and it has multiple aspects. It’s not just a mechanical thing. It’s not just an electrical thing. It’s not just a software thing, but the domains have to interact, and that’s the second step connection. When I change one thing, when I change something mechanically, what does that do to the electrical system? How does that affect the software?

And that’s the second step to start to connect the digital things in digital domains and that’s kind of the second step connection. Those two steps tend to be pretty labor intensive and what I see in aerospace and frankly in other industries too is that customers start down that journey and they say wow, I’ve invested a lot of time and a lot of money. Sometimes my seems like my people are working even harder to make some of this stuff work because it takes some initial investment in infrastructure.

And while there’s real payoff in configuration and connection, the real payoff comes in Step 3, which is automation. That’s where you start to really put that data to work for you and you start to automate things. I talk about automations in two steps. The first step is to automate mundane things. I did that, as the director of engineering for some companies. I watched my staff, my engineers, how they worked and what I found was that I was paying incredibly talented, awesome engineers to copy and paste data between documents.

I first came out of school as an engineer. I was doing a lot of mundane stuff and I say the first thing all companies should do is look around because all kinds of things in any company that can be automated That includes the design process and also the build and manufacturing processes; all kinds of simple things that can be automated. And that’s where you start to see a real payoff. That’s also where your staff starts to see the buying into automating mundane things that people don’t want to do.

Once we’ve done that, then you can start to automate things we thought only people could do. Complex things. So, once you automate the mundane, you can automate the complex and that gets into Step 4, which is this whole idea of generative design. We talk about Chat GPT and generative AI, and there’s a whole industrial side to that too. It is far more secure, and physics based than just the Chat GPT, and that’s where you get into generative design. If you can generate things and it can be a design, it can be a manufacturing plan, it can be support material for the product you’re building. We have ways to generate all those things autonomously.

Now if I can generate something once in a computer, I can use the digital twin that we talk about a lot at Siemens and connect that to simulation and actually start to optimize that. When I’m going towards a deadline, having to optimize things, I can do something in a computer digitally 5 * 500 * 5000 times before I realize it in the real world. You can think about something as complex as setting up a manufacturing floor. And we have ways to digitize and optimize that now in the digital world before it’s ever realized in the physical world. Again, it’s a journey.

I just did what I made fun of Siemens for doing. I talked about this grandiose vision of the future that maybe seems unattainable to a lot of companies. I encourage you to not think about how you’re not where those big giant companies are with this fancy digitized future. Don’t think about that. Think about where you are today in the next step. My encouragement is to not think about where you have to be five years from now. Think: where do I want to be in six months? What’s the first step that a company can take to start to improve their digital transformation maturity?

That’s a that’s a long answer to a simple question, but that’s kind of the five steps of digital transformation.

Rahul Garg: The five stages actually could apply to various parts of the organization as well, and depending upon the organization, they may be at a different level of maturity and perhaps there is some value in trying to understand where you are across the organization so that you can become more effective in trying to determine which parts of your of your company you want to move forward with depending upon the challenges.

Todd Tuthill: And Rahul, that’s a very good point. What I tend to see in companies is that usually the design part of the company leads in terms of the digital transformation. Many times you’ll see the design part of the company go there first and then the manufacturing and maybe supply chain and support organizations tend to follow.

But as we all know, the largest cost, most companies, the industrial companies that make big, large things their largest cost is in building the thing usually not designing it. There’s real value in all stages, and you’re right, it’s not one size fits all for a company. Different aspects of the company are different stages.

Chris Pennington: Todd, I’d like to direct the next question to you. Rahul talked about the different levels of maturity in companies. How would you explain the value of continuing to grow digital maturity to an organization that may consider themselves already digitally mature?

Todd Tuthill: OK, great question again. It the value is and about again, I’ll think about myself as the person. If Siemens came to me five years ago when I was working for Raytheon and said, “here’s the answer: you need to digitally transform”. Most companies would roll their eyes. I would have said “I’ve already done that.”

My message is not digital transformation. My message is maturing the digital transformation companies already have, and that’s what I talk about. Again, it’s a journey. I got there Thursday, so I’m done, and I can put the digital transformation thing on the shelf.

Todd Tuthill: There are new opportunities, new technologies, especially in the area of artificial intelligence that offer incredible benefit, and I can guarantee to the companies listening that if you’re not thinking about maturing, getting better, and your digital transformation, your competitors are. And that’s why I like this five-step framework because it talks about step one. Understand where you are today and then think about the value in taking a next step and that’s why I like that.

I talk a lot about automating mundane things. I’ve never seen this in an engineering organization I’ve ever been associated with in 30 years. They didn’t have mundane processes that nobody wanted to do, that they weren’t right for automation.  I won’t name the company, but a few years ago we had this argument every time we started a new project over the something as simple as the table of contents for a set of requirements. I was together with my one day and I said, “why are we doing this? Why can’t we standardize that? Why can’t we standardize the way we write requirements?” We’re basically building the same types of things. 90% of the requirements are common.

Anyway, let’s parameterize that and we started to automate that process and it saved incredible amounts of time. It was a mundane thing that that again we all thought we needed to argue about. We just automated and that’s a simple thing.

And we started doing that and just automating other simple things that we did it from a productivity standpoint. It was a wonderful thing, and it helps productivity, but it also helps the working environment for the engineers because as I said, I didn’t go to school to write tables of contents or requirements or to put PMI on mechanical drawings or to draw a point-to-point wiring schematics.

The reality is we have tools today that can automate all those things in a lot more for companies to free up engineers to think a creatively, to be constructive and innovative while thinking critically. And that’s why we want to take those mundane things and put them away. That’s where any company at any level can probably find value and just thinking about how to automate mundane stuff, that they’re paying their employees to do.

Rahul Garg: I sometimes start what happens is many companies, they may take the first step. You call that configure. Maybe you could think of it as a foundation step which brings some digital technologies into the picture. They have done the necessary things and they’re good to go and as you highlight it, it’s a journey and it’s a maturity and the more you can take advantage of that, the better you can gain in terms of significant value.

Frankly speaking, a lot of the new digital capabilities and technologies that are coming on board in the last couple of years, especially around AI and generative AI for you to start taking advantage of those, those capabilities need to have a solid foundation in place. If you don’t have that, you’re going to be struggling trying to take the next jump. That’s where you’ll start seeing a lot more value in terms of your maturity as well,

Todd Tuthill: The keyword is “value” and value looks different for every company. That’s why we kept this description, this journey to a pretty high level because configuration for one company looks different than for another company.

As does automation and I try to ask companies to not copy somebody else. Think about really where value is needed in your company and take those first steps. My bet is that as you start down the journey you’re going to realize and understand all kinds of opportunities that you would have never really thought about as you started that journey.

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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