Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens talks to KTN about how digital technologies are transforming manufacturing
Posted on 23/08/2018
Where is the application of digital technologies making the biggest impact?
“We are in the midst of a manufacturing revolution. Digital technologies such as additive manufacturing, data analytics, internet of things, augmented and virtual reality are transforming manufacturing operations and improving productivity. However, I feel the biggest impact will be the application of these technologies within small and medium sized businesses.
We hear Industry 4.0 or 4IR mentioned lots in the media. This is simply, the name used for applying new digital technologies into manufacturing across the globe. As a nation, if we don’t engage and start using these innovations, we are going to be left behind. We won’t be driving the productivities, we’ll be less competitive, and we won’t be able to export. So my advice to all manufacturing businesses is engage to make sure that we are competitive and we create a thriving, British manufacturing industry.”
Is it just for the big companies?
“It is massively important for SMEs to engage with digital technologies. Many smaller companies think it is only for the likes of Siemens, but it is not. Technologies such as robots are now affordable and applicable to any manufacturer and can make significant improvements to productivity outputs. Also, additive manufacturing can radically enhance a production process. Diverting your thinking from day to day production to innovating your manufacturing process seems like a risky strategy however there is lots of help out there to show you how to select and apply these digital technologies.
Most of manufacturing sits within the supply chain. You often hear about Siemens building a new factory and creating thousand jobs but actually the biggest employer falls within the supply chain. So, for companies like Siemens it is absolutely critical to reach out to the supply chain, to innovate with us and help create the innovative products of the future.”
My advice to SMEs is to ‘get on board and use digital technologies to drive your productivity’.
Is there support available for manufacturers to make the right choice?
“There are lots of good organisations within a strong ecosystem who can help you and plenty of companies you can benchmark against. Organisations such as Innovate UK who can provide funding and support for manufacturers and KTN whose 4Manufacturing® tool can help define and build an action plan to start their digital manufacturing journey. KTN can also provide a network of connections who can signpost you to all the key areas you need to consider and help you scale your innovation and your business.”
“I like to think of Industry 4.0 as a revolution. The evolution of digital technologies within manufacturing is like electricity was for the second industrial revolution and silicon and computing were for the third industrial revolution.
So, Industry 4.0 is a revolution which is happening at a pace at which all types and sizes of businesses can get on board. So, if you’re an SME, it is not too late to be part of this revolution. My advice is to work out which technologies work for you to improve your productivity and find support such as 4Manufacuring® within our excellent ecosystem, to signpost and de-risk your project.”