Siemens’ gateway to a digital future

Although Industry 4.0 looms on Vietnam’s horizon, the country’s business community is finding it difficult to find a place in the coming revolution. Siemens Vietnam’s president and CEO Pham Thai Lai spoke with VIR’s Thanh Thu about this dilemma, offering some key solutions for domestic firms to stay on top of this new technological wave.

What do you see as the challenges facing Vietnam’s manufacturers, and how can they address such obstacles through digitalisation?

Reducing time to market, greater flexibility requests, and increasing quality while being energy efficient are the main challenges manufacturers face today. Apart from that, they must decide on where to start their digitalisation journey and what to fix first before going any further.

Digitalisation can help manufacturers with their complete value chain starting from product design, production planning, product engineering, product execution, and finally, operational services.

Siemens offers a holistic approach to the integration of manufacturers’ value chains. We are currently the only technology provider to have a thorough product portfolio addressing all the five aforementioned value chain steps .

We go beyond our role as a product or system provider to being a consultant who provides additional advice to manufacturers on how to customise and tailor an ideal digitalised roadmap.

What are the success factors on the way to becoming a digital enterprise?

I think having a well-prepared ‘shop floor’ and a well thought through strategy is vital to successfully becoming a digital enterprise. Siemens aims to support customers, regardless of their starting point, to identify barriers and provide solutions for streamlining ‘shop floor’ to ‘top floor’ operations and communication.

One key concept in this process is “smart data” – meaning the intelligent use of “big data” as well as automation and process know-how. A technical understanding of both of these terms coupled with a profound comprehension of industry business models are both necessary to succeed.

Finally, it’s all about turning digital data into value for the company, be it by using real-time asset data to run predictive service models, which substantially increases plant reliability, or energy analytics to reduce energy costs, just to name two examples.

So what is your specific advice for those Vietnamese enterprises that are determined to become digitalised in the future?

Digitalisation starts from the bottom-up, at the shop floor.

The path of change must be based on progressive evolution, commencing with small pilot projects that get implemented step-by-step in reasonable doses, which can be coped with during plant operation.

The first step is to ensure production data transparency before going further on the journey of digitalisation. With our TIA platform, our Vietnamese customers will be fully prepared for next steps, and Siemens is offering a “gateway” to that next level.

In fact, I consider Siemens as “The Gateway” to the next industrial era.

In a previous interview with VIR, you mentioned the launch of a digitalisation hub in Singapore. What exactly does this hub do?

Siemens is a global leader in providing engineering, domain, and digital know-how to generate performance improvements across the entire value chain, from design to production, and operations to maintenance.

With this digitalisation hub, Siemens is growing its digital leadership by fully-integrating its expertise within a hub for the first time. We are creating synergy and an ecosystem for our teams, customers, and business partners to tap into the benefits that digitalisation can bring.

This hub will support urban infrastructure, industry and manufacturing, oil and gas, and healthcare sectors in Southeast Asia to digitalise their businesses through the various expertises housed within them already.

There are some pillars within the hub, including the Urban Infrastructure Digital Analytics and Applications Centre, which forms the core and largest portion of the hub; the Industry 4.0 Hub Digital Centre for Oil and Gas; and the Healthineers Digital Hub.

An integral part of the digitalisation hub concept is MindSphere, an open, cloud-based IoT operating system. It offers data analytics and connectivity capabilities, tools for developers, applications, and services. It helps to evaluate and process data to gain insights and optimise the performance of assets for maximised productivity.

How will companies in Southeast Asia benefit from the digitalisation hub?

Siemens has a strong focus on ASEAN, and having the hub located in Singapore is important as it is close to businesses and partners in this region, and the country features a strong ecosystem for digital solutions.

The digitalisation hub provides the opportunity for us to tailor specific solutions to customers through our strong and dedicated team of industry experts who know these markets well.

MindSphere seems to be a key part of the hub. What is MindSphere? Is that a Siemens proprietary tool?

MindSphere is an important building block of Siemens’ digitalisation strategy. It is a cloud-based, open IoT operating system. It transforms data into knowledge and knowledge into business success, and enables our customers to drive their digital transformation and create new business opportunities.

MindSphere provides data analytics and connectivity capabilities, tools for developers, applications, and services. Companies can use it as the basis for their own digital services, whether in the areas of predictive maintenance, energy data management, or resource optimisation.

The digitalisation hub will seek to realise Siemens’ vision in positioning MindSphere as the operating system for cities.

Why does Siemens offer MindSphere? How does MindSphere fit into the Siemens portfolio?

By launching MindSphere and providing our customers with a cloud-based, open IoT operating system, Siemens aims at increasing the sales of its portfolio, which can be devices, for example MindConnect Nano and MindConnect IOT 2040 to connect assets to MindSphere; Siemens’ industrial software, for instance Simatic IT for connecting machine data on the shop floor; or data-based services, such as Machine Tool Analytics and Energy Analytics.

How is MindSphere being rolled out in Singapore and Vietnam?

At the digitalisation hub, Siemens will co-operate with universities, customers, and partners to develop new digital applications.

In Singapore, we are now partnering with Nanyang Technological University, ST Electronics, and SP Group for their digital needs, and MindSphere will play a large role in these collaborations. In Vietnam we are now partnering with FPT Corporation on MindSphere and Product Lifecycle Management.

I believe the time to come will be very exciting, and as always, Vietnamese customers can count on us.

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