At the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) in Chicago on March 27, Siemens demonstrated its approach to the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” At its annual U.S. Innovation Day, Siemens demonstrated real-world applications of digital solutions that it says will reduce costs, increase speed, develop new business models, and improve quality of life.
For example, the City of Chicago saves millions of dollars by retrofitting its water supply with Siemens technology, according to the company. Siemens has also partnered with Microsoft to integrate alternative energy sources for cleaner and more efficient data center operations, helping establish the world’s first zero-carbon, waste-to-power data center in Cheyenne, WY. With the Atlanta Streetcar, Siemens said it has established a predictive maintenance program that puts more intelligence behind data points to reduce delays for streetcar riders as well as save energy. Additionally, Siemens is teaming up with Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) to help build and test software that will allow the utility to manage clusters of microgrids simultaneously.
By using Siemens digital twin software, companies can reduce their product development time from months to weeks, according to Siemens. For example, the startup RadioBro is establishing its IoT device business in the aviation and aerospace industry with “an unparalleled time-to-market,” according to Siemens. The company also provided a solution for autonomous driving that minimizes the need for extensive physical prototyping while reducing the number of logged test miles necessary to demonstrate the safety of the vehicles.
“With the arrival of the Internet of Things [IoT] in industry and infrastructure, many organizations are still trying to understand how to incorporate digital strategies into their business models,” said Roland Busch, chief technology officer and member of the managing board of Siemens AG. “Siemens has reinvented itself into one of the world’s top 10 software companies and is continuing to expand its digital capabilities. With our MindSphere Application Centers, we’re combining deep expertise in automation and electrification with our unique industrial software offering to enable our customers to leverage digital solutions for their specific needs.”
Siemens is expanding its investments in US-based digital capabilities to co-create intelligent solutions with customers, creating 20 centers for digital customer applications in the industrial sector. Each of the MindSphere Application Centers serves multiple locations in different countries and specializes in a particular industry where Siemens is active. About 900 software developers, data specialists, and engineers are working with Siemens customers at these centers to develop digital innovations for data analysis and machine learning. These new solutions are being developed on MindSphere, Siemens’ open, cloud-based operating system for the IoT.
The company has distributed its 20 centers across around 50 locations in 17 countries worldwide. Eight of these digital service hubs are located in the US – in Austin, TX; Foster City, CA; Atlanta; Alpharetta, GA; Pittsburgh; Berkeley, CA; and Orlando. FL. They constitute the largest footprint for these centers outside of Germany, according to the company. Siemens launched its MindSphere IoT operating system across the company about a year ago. Approximately one million devices and systems are now connected via MindSphere, and this figure will reach 1.25 million by the end of fiscal 2018, said Siemens.
The company has also increased its US R&D investment by $175 million year over year to $1.3 billion in fiscal 2017 – a 16% increase – with a focus on digital innovation. In Chicago, for example, Siemens is investing $13 million annually in a new digital R&D hub focused on cloud and IoT applications to support the building management and automation market. On a global level, Siemens said it will again increase its global R&D expenditures in fiscal 2018 and is investing an additional sum of about $600 million. As a result, R&D spending will increase from nearly $6.3 billion in fiscal 2017 to $6.9 billion in fiscal 2018, the company said.
“From digital twins and digital services to the IoT and artificial intelligence, Siemens is innovating next-generation digital technologies to help cities and companies across the country realize measurable value from data,” said Lisa Davis, CEO of Siemens USA. “To further this customer value proposition and prepare our company for the future, we’re investing in the next-generation workforce, which is paramount to our future success.”
Siemens has more than 1500 open jobs across the US, most of which require some software or STEM-related education. Siemens is training and recruiting people with backgrounds in computer science and engineering combined with expertise in software development and programming. For example, Siemens has hired nearly 150 people at Mindsphere Application Centers to provide digital services for rail, smart buildings, and infrastructure. The company’s Building Technologies Division is hiring 120 people in Illinois and Texas for its digital services hub, while Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is hiring 100 digital positions in software development and coding. Siemens’ R&D centers in Berkeley, Princeton, NJ, and Charlotte, NC are hiring researchers and scientists in the field of data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, 3D design, and cybersecurity.
Siemens has also expanded its innovation pipeline by securing over 15,000 patents in the US and submitting more than 1000 US invention disclosures in 2017 alone, amounting to about five inventions per working day, according to the company.