Current Issue

Software upgrade bolsters Siemens portfolio

Comments Email
A diagram showing the system architecture of a machine control layout. Siemens said tire manufacturers are one group that can benefit from its technology.

MUNICH—Siemens A.G.'s Totally Integrated Automation solution has combined processes and streamlined communication for its customers, according to the company.

Phil Aponte, marketing manager, OEM/PC-based automation at Siemens, said the company gets involved with discrete automation and factory automation, including industrial PCs, working with companies that utilize these technologies.

Aponte said Siemens is one of the few companies that offer industrial computers that provide software control systems with safety as part of the solution. This is significant in these industries, he said, because concern for the operators and manufacturing personnel is extremely important.

Tire manufacturers and other factory-based businesses can utilize the software by streamlining communication and making the different processes work together.

"When everything kind of (is) integrated together, talking the same language, it helps provide those kind of processed diagnostics and a level of transparency that helps to minimize down time and increase the quality of the end product," said James Jackson, marketing consultant, new/emerging markets. "It's very interesting because you combine a lot of process steps with a lot of discrete steps, and once it's all integrated under one platform, it's able to communicate better."

Jackson said this can be used when companies are setting up facilities because "sometimes, they don't consider integrating their automation and drive systems together," and they end up having "a piecemeal solution in which they're providing and procuring all these different pieces of equipment, and they might be speaking different communication protocols."

Siemens' technology, the firm said, improves transparency and the amount of track and traceability in the facility.

Siemens' automation is being used in a variety of industries, including automotive, food and beverage, transportation, aerospace and others.

"Every industry has some level of automation that we can participate in," Aponte said.

He said "a good characterization of this is the recent Mars Lander" that was completely designed under Siemens Product Lifecycle Management software.

"From the original design all the way down to the plant level ... Siemens is one of those few organizations out there that can provide what we call "Product Life Cycle' software, management and software, at the highest level where the true digital factory can start evolving," Aponte said.

Tire manufacturing

Because of the complex processes involved, Siemens said its software can appeal to tire manufacturers.

Jackson said a tire manufacturer utilizes "a lot of global logistical elements," shipping and receiving raw materials and finished products internationally. He said that is why Siemens global libraries accomplish a "high level of standardization."

He said firms that have plants in more than one area—either nationally or internationally—can use global libraries to transfer the process knowledge seamlessly from one plant to another, reducing engineering time.

Because all the information is in one network, he said it optimizes the "cycle times to manufacture from the green tire all the way to the finished product."

Aponte added that a typical example in the industry is uniform tire testing because it can create an "improved quality inspection process."

Siemens combines one control solution, providing a high level of accurate capturing of the test measurements and data acquisition, Aponte said, and that in turn is web-enabled for improved visualization.

Multiple operators can be stationed around the machine.

Integration differences

A screen shot showing how SieŽmens’ technology is used in an industrial application. Most of the firm’s offerings for integrating of processes involve software.

Siemens' integrated automation differs from its competitors because it designs it from the inside out.

"We see a lot of competitors basically acquire companies or design products and then assemble them to a solution," Aponte said. "The Siemens mantra is really designed from inside out. We really take a look at our products and look at the framework that they're built on."

As safety is an important consideration, Aponte said Siemens wanted to ensure it was being integrated into its automation.

In the past, he said, a company would produce an automation solution that would address the visualization aspect and then have a separate, secondary control system to address safety.

Siemens, Aponte said, integrates safety into its product. "That means that within the control structure, we do have safety input/output to control that component," he said.


Almost every Siemens product has a software component.

"We have the ability to offer support on some of the software packages, mobile devices like smartphones, that our software has been developed, where they act as a front-end portal to the data set," Aponte said.

These systems have different layers of security, which Siemens calls "defense and depth." Siemens works with customers to determine the required security layers.

He said in some cases users can employ a mobile device to control an action from one zone to another, using multiple screens on the mobile device for localized control.

Software will continue to evolve down to the device level, Aponte said, giving customers more diagnostic capability.

"That's one of the great features with Totally Integrated Automation that Siemens offers with our solution is that the customer over a web server can see all aspects of what's happening on that machine—the diagnostics," he said.

Individuals may investigate an issue, see the key parameters, and in some cases—with the proper level of security—set and reset control points.

According to the company, Siemens uses its own technology, giving it the ability to serve as a resource and support for customers.