Siemens has become DMDII’s largest partner, and the two companies are going full steam ahead on developing newer and bolder IIoT technology.
If there’s one name in Chicago that’s synonymous with the Industrial Internet of Things and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it’s the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute. The DMDII is one of several public-private research institutes that make up Manufacturing USA and the primary nexus for IIoT research in Chicago. They partner with companies and organizations ranging from Northrop Grumman to Clemson University to the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center. Their first wave of research contracts in 2015 were valued at over $7 million alone, and they currently have 16 different major research projects that they’ve provided funds for with more project calls coming every year.
And now, one of the top names you’ll see next to theirs is Siemens. Siemens’ automation branch has become a leading partner at DMDII to develop some of the most sophisticated products to grace their repertoire yet, and most of their newest developments can be seen on display at DMDII, where they fill more of the institute’s Innovation Center’s 100,000 sq. ft. floor space than any other partner.
That floor space is devoted to illustrations of what can be done today with IIoT technology alongside testbeds for what will be possible tomorrow. Siemens is showing off everything from an ever-evolving automated conveyor assembly line to the Siemens Digital Enterprise Showcase, a walkthrough experience explaining every step of their software’s process in detail with examples of what their software can accomplish. Walking through DMDII’s testbed floor, one can see almost everything digital Siemens has to offer from robotic automation to PLC software.
It starts with the Digital Enterprise Showcase, a presentation by Siemens that amounts to an on-the-floor classroom on the various ways IIoT technology can ease and improve every step of the manufacturing process. As you’re taken through the manufacturing process from ideation and design to shipping the product and beyond, each step features snapshots of in-software examples of the numerous quality of life improvements Siemens software can bring to the automated assembly line.
However, it’s one thing to see the theory through software on a bunch of monitors, and another to see the physical examples of how the software can make life easier. At Siemens’ conveyor line, one gets to see what they just learned in physical practice, with little improvements such as an automated system that works alongside an assembly worker on display. As an example, someone can inspect a part being produced, and once they’re satisfied that the part was made properly, the system already knows where to send the part next and how to get it there. All it takes is an ‘ok’ from the worker to tell the system the current step of the process is complete, and the system takes care of the rest.
Siemens’ displays at DMDII are more than just a marketing gimmick (though I’m sure they’d love to get you to buy something once you’re done seeing them). They don’t just show off what Siemens can provide a customer, but serve as a guidebook to everything that IIoT technology as a whole can already accomplish and the benefits of jumping onto the bandwagon. They translate all the heady, almost esoteric innovations heralded by the Fourth Industrial Revolution that we talk about here at Power Transmission Engineering almost every other issue into palpable examples with real, measurable benefits, and if you find yourself in the area, it’s definitely worth a look. More than selling Siemens products, these displays sell IIoT and what it can do for you.
Siemens’ ongoing work with DMDII isn’t all they’ve been up to in Chicago lately. They also recently reopened their Machine Tool Technical Application Center (TAC), a local education center that will be training engineers in the use of Siemens software on a number of different manufacturing machines. The TAC gave courses for over 200 people last year, and Siemens expects to continue growing their number of graduates in 2017. And there’s also EMO around the corner, where you can expect Siemens to show up full force to show off many of the same products you can see on display at DMDII.
But regardless of where you see Siemens’ newest innovations, it’s clear that they’re emblematic of the larger shifts in the industry as a whole. Siemens is at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and while they may not be alone in the push towards further innovation and progress, they certainly make themselves an easily accessible example of it.