Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit: How is the UK’s Fourth Industrial Revolution progressing?

Brian Holliday, MD of Digital Industries at Siemens, took to the main stage at Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit 2019 to provide an insight into the latest 4IR developments, and the challenges and opportunities in adoption, culture and skills.

The Internet of Things is becoming the ‘Internet of Everything’, Holliday began.

“A lot can happen in a day; 5.5 million new ‘things’ get connected every day, and 50 billion things are expected to be connected by 2020. What’s more, half of all the data in the world has been created in the last 12 month, but most of that data is not being used to its potential.​”

Brian Holliday, MD of Digital Industries at Siemens, took to the main stage at Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit 2019 - image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

Siemens was one of the pioneers in the second revolution, which started in the mid-19th century with the electrification of the world.

The fourth revolution, which commentators say we are currently in the foothills of, has been triggered by digital technologies that will have a disruptive impact on companies‘ business models – particularly those within manufacturing.

Technology trends transforming industry and shaping the ‘Digital Enterprise’​, according to Siemens

Changing the way ideas come to life​:

Generative Design – a technology that mimics nature’s evolutionary approach to design​

Systems of Systems – today’s complex products require a system of systems approach to design​

Model-based engineering – integrating electronics and software and controls with the hardware design process​ ​


Changing the way products are realised:

​Machine learning – software and systems that teach themselves to respond and grow when exposed to new data​

Additive manufacturing – transforming design, manufacturing and logistics support practices​

Advanced robotics – being more widely being deployed due to lower costs, performing more human tasks and ability to work alongside human​ ​


Changing the way products are used, supported and creating new opportunities in service​:

Cloud technology – greater global deployment options​

Knowledge automation – intelligent software systems that can perform knowledge work tasks involving unstructured commands and subtle judgements​

Big data analytics – examining large data sets containing a variety of data types (i.e. big data) to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, customer preferences and other useful business information.

Holliday offered a practical example of how these technologies are transforming industry using a notebook.

“With our NX software, you can develop the product from the initial concept, the industry design phase, to construction, simulation, and all the way to manufacturing.

Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit: How is the UK’s Fourth Industrial Revolution progressing? - image courtesy of Siemens.

With Simcenter you use the data from the construction engineer, and basically simulate the physical behavior of the components. ​The simulation could, for example, show that the processor generates too much heat.

“Fortunately, you’re still working in an associated environment, and can use NX with Synchronous Technology to easily move around parts and change the cooling system; ​instead of using a less powerful processor.

“Part of the production planning is to simulate the assembly process with Jack and Jill using our Tecnomatix Process Simulate software.​ Analysis of this type ensure worker-friendly working conditions, reducing risk for injuries and fatigue.

Jack and Jill Simulation - Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit: How is the UK’s Fourth Industrial Revolution progressing? - image courtesy of Siemens.

“It is also important to optimise the flow of material through your production facility.​​ With Tecnomatix Plant Simulation, you have a tool to optimise material flow and throughput, discover bottlenecks and even optimise the energy consumption of the plant.​

“The overall result is validated holistically with Virtual Commissioning in Tecnomatix Process Simulate. The virtual SIMATIC controller PLCSIM Advanced can be utilised to test the production cell or machine in a completely virtual environment.

Process Simulation - Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit: How is the UK’s Fourth Industrial Revolution progressing? - image courtesy of Siemens.

“In order to reach the highest level of efficiency you can optimise the right sequence of operations using our SIMATIC Preactor ​advanced production scheduling of work operations software to plan the best sequence of operations according to plant resources availability and constraints.

Advanced Production Scheduling - Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit: How is the UK’s Fourth Industrial Revolution progressing? - image courtesy of Siemens.

“At this point in time, we’re not only producing products, we are also producing a lot of data.​ Data that is of great value and that we want to use.​ ​And with MindSphere, our cloud-based, open IoT operating system you collect and analyse the data and transform it into valuable knowledge.

“This completes your digital twin with performance data from your products and production.​ ​So, what do you do with all that data you have?​ ​You feed it back into the entire value chain – all the way back to product design.

“By that you create a full closed-loop decision environment for continuous optimisation for both, the product and the production.

Digital Twin - Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit: How is the UK’s Fourth Industrial Revolution progressing? - image courtesy of Siemens.