Manufacturing a brighter future

Steve Martin, Head of Siemens Industry Glass Sector, argues that greater industrial technology awareness and deployment are required if the country is to reach the productivity levels necessary to maintain or expand its manufacturing footprint.

Here, he explores some of the automation technology trends currently impacting manufacturing, including the glass sector, and touches on the next predicted productivity leap - a fourth industrial revolution now referred to as Industry 4.0.Today, manufacturing is changing faster than ever before and the drivers for this include globalisation, individualisation, time to market and sustainability.  Energy and resource efficiency are increasingly decisive factors in manufacturing competitiveness, even in developing economies which are adopting automation technology at rates that look set to further improve their traditional cost advantage.Globalisation is driving the need for shorter innovation cycles, as time-to-market represents a competitive advantage for an increasing number of products.  Localisation agendas are more apparent all over the globe too, driven by interests in local manufacturing and jobs.  Manufactured products themselves are becoming more complex and data generated from their production, distribution and use is growing exponentially.Technology used in glass manufacturing is also developing at a faster rate, largely due to the pace of change in microprocessor, communications and information technology.  User expectations of automation technology are changing too, but ease of use, long life-cycle and remote access to information are consistently highlighted amongst their needs with today’s plant manager expecting real-time data delivered to their smart device to aid decision making on the move.Five key technology development areas are set to continue to influence glass manufacturing.  They are: industrial software, energy monitoring & control, industrial wireless and distributed intelligence, safety systems and cyber security.1) Industrial SoftwareIndustrial software is multifaceted - here we explore three key use areas: Design – PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software has reached a level of maturity enabling incredibly complex design and collaboration projects to be undertaken.  Users have traditionally been in the discrete manufacturing sectors such as automotive and aerospace with the software used to develop the end-product.  Recent developments have enabled industrial software to be used in process engineering, plant simulation and plant design too. Integration- The extended use of PLM software for plant design is leading to tighter integration of product and production processes, a trend that looks set to offer users significant benefits as the tools develop.  In plant control systems, device integration levels are notably increasing too with software operating environments such as Siemens’ TIA Portal and standardised communication interfaces, such as Profinet, enabling users to easily connect to a broader range of industrial technologies. Operation- Industrial software is increasingly being used for operational monitoring and control.  For example, downtime can be measured and reasons identified to drive productivity improvement.  Optimised production scheduling can be achieved in complex multivariate applications, with companies like Preactor having led the way. 2) Energy monitoring and controlAs the cost of energy increases, monitoring and management have become critical to industrial users.  In manufacturing, energy efficiency not only contributes to lower product cost but also brand as buyer behaviour is influenced more by factors such as CO2 footprint.Recent regulation, such as ISO 50001, highlights the importance of energy management systems and Germany stands out here, leading the way in global certifications which may be attributable to eco-tax relief for energy-intensive companies, but only if they contribute towards energy savings.3) Industrial wireless & distributed intelligenceIndustrial wireless technology has developed rapidly over the last 10 years reducing cost and improving flexibility in both factory and process automation systems.Typical examples include wireless instrumentation with the reduced need for cabling or civil works or connecting wirelessly with devices on moving machinery instead of using and maintaining mechanical slip rings.

4) Safety systems

Industrial safety systems reliably protect people, machines and the environment from possible malfunctions in the production process.  Until recently, safety systems were hard-wired and separated by regulation from plant control systems.  This approach had the benefit of wide acceptance and a skills base to support it, but suffers from inflexibility and diagnostic difficulty in larger systems.  Through international standardisation change and technology developments, safety functions such as an e-stop can now be integrated into Programmable Electronic systems.

5) Cyber security

With IP (Ethernet) connected industrial systems and well publicised industrial espionage cases, security is no longer optional.  Cyber security systems are needed for know-how, access and copy protection.  Users want remote access and real-time visualisation but need to know that access is strictly authenticated.  Much development has occurred to further protect industrial users through communication technology, software encryption and chip-level hardware protection in control systems.

The future and Industry 4.0...

Much press interest has recently been shown in Germany in the work of the Forschungs Union, an advanced research group focused in part on the developments required to achieve the next productivity leap in manufacturing... nothing short of a fourth industrial revolution it has called Industry 4.0.



About Siemens Industry:

Siemens Industry UK is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of innovative and environmentally friendly products and solutions for industrial customers. With end-to-end automation technology and industrial software, solid vertical-market expertise, and technology-based services, the Sector enhances its customers’ productivity, efficiency, and flexibility. Part of Siemens UK’s workforce of over 13,000 employees, the Industry Sector comprises the Divisions Industry Automation, Drive Technologies, Metal Technologies and Industry Services. For more information, visit

About Siemens in the UK:

Siemens was established in the United Kingdom 169 years ago and now employs around 13,520 people in the UK. Last year’s revenues were £3.2 billion*. As a leading global engineering and technology services company, Siemens provides innovative solutions to help tackle the world’s major challenges, across the key sectors of energy, industry, infrastructure & cities and healthcare. Siemens has offices and factories throughout the UK, with its headquarters in Frimley, Surrey. The company’s global headquarters is in Munich, Germany. For more information, visit

* Data includes intercompany revenue. Data may not be comparable with revenue reported in annual or interim reports.

600450 Manufacturing a brighter future

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