Through its suite of advanced and leading-edge technologies, Siemens not only helps companies digitalise to meet the needs of the new economy, but also empowers them to carry out smart innovations to succeed in the Industry 4.0 era. However, manufacturers should also focus on upskilling their workforce to fully realise the benefits of a digital factory. While new technologies possess great autonomy, humans must provide direction and control—and apart from overseeing technology, they are needed to gather, compare, analyse and apply data. Implementing Industry 4.0 technologies without knowing how to interpret, manage, and act on the insights leaves businesses with just a buzzword that has no real applicable value. There is a need for organisations to develop talent strategies, as well as build up staffing and training plans to meet the changing needs in terms of skills, job description and organisational models of the companies.
One way that Siemens is doing this is through its newly-launched Advance Manufacturing Transformation Centre (AMTC) in the Jurong Innovation District (JID) in Singapore. The AMTC is the first of its kind competence centre that provides guidance and support to manufacturing facilities in ASEAN on their journey of adoption, transition and transformation towards advanced manufacturing.
AMTC showcases state of the art Siemens digital enterprise solutions that will enable companies to create digital twin models of envisioned advance manufacturing plants. It also helps simulate, optimise and evaluate manufacturing operations before constructing the actual manufacturing facility.
Furthermore, AMTC houses Siemens’ first Additive Manufacturing Experience Center (AMEC) outside of Germany, where companies can experience an advance end-to-end additive manufacturing production line with their technology partners. Companies will be able to carry out prototyping and low-volume production with the support of on-site additive manufacturing experts, enabling a smooth transition and transformation to in-house advance manufacturing.
Aiding the Fight Against a Global Pandemic
Since the beginning of the year, the world has been grappling with a pandemic that has had an unprecedented impact in the global manufacturing supply chain, and each and everyone’s lives. However, despite its negative impact, the COVID-19 pandemic has given Industry 4.0 a booster jab—proving the necessity of innovation and digitalisation, as well as bringing down the resistance to change and collaborate, reducing the fear of new technologies, and accelerating the adoption of digital technologies.
This challenge has provided Siemens and its Industry 4.0 partners an opportunity to combine their strengths to locally develop and manufacture a face shield designed by Singapore’s Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) using additive manufacturing. This fully local collaboration saw the AMTC, supported by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), HP’s Smart Manufacturing Applications and Research Center (SMARC), and Mitsui Chemicals (Japan) come together to design, optimise and manufacture the face shields in an accelerated product introduction cycle of under two months. TTSH provided feedback during this process to ensure that the face shield provides comfort wear and allows ease of cleaning.
Through Siemens’ in-house additive manufacturing expertise and local network, the face shield design was optimised and printed using HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D technology with proprietary polyamide material, that is certified biocompatible by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Mitsui Chemical’s polyolefin coating that is approved for medical use.
In a statement, Benjamin Moey, Siemens’ Head of Additive Manufacturing, APAC, said, “This face shield project has proven the capabilities and benefits of additive manufacturing and Industry 4.0 technologies. It is exactly why Siemens set up the AMTC—we want to help companies to adopt advance manufacturing so as to be agile and competitive in today’s fast-changing economy.” According to Moey, Siemens’ strong and diverse ecosystem of partners allow industries to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 without the necessity of engineering from scratch each time, thus saving time and money. This is especially crucial and valuable during challenging times, such as the current COVID-19 situation.
Siemens will contribute in-kind the pilot batch of face shields to TTSH for internal use and evaluation so that TTSH can suggest any refinement, before the face shields will go into production.
Apart from this collaboration, Siemens has also opened its global additive manufacturing network to enable the efficient execution of design and printing requests by doctors, hospitals and suppliers of medical equipment in response to the ongoing global health crisis caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
Helping Skills Enhancement
Another issue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was the loss of jobs due to stalled economic activities driven by falling demand due to lockdowns, quarantines, and movement control orders in all markets worldwide.
Singapore has been no exception. Entering a technical recession after its economy shrank by 41.2% in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter, employment is expected to be impacted. In line with this, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has launched the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme in July as part of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. The programme aims to provide traineeships and training opportunities for mid-career jobseekers impacted by the economic consequences of COVID-19.
Under the programme, Siemens is partnering with SSG to launch the Advance Manufacturing (Additive Manufacturing) Learning Programme, an enterprise-based course package designed to provide trainees with up-to-date skillsets to stay relevant and better support the current wave of industrial companies undergoing digital transformation, with focus on industrial additive manufacturing (3D printing).
The course is organised into four block modules: the first three are component trainings looking at providing the basic foundation on key skillsets, namely, PLC programming, 3D design fundamentals and post processing basics; which will prepare the trainees to undertake the final project module that could be supporting the implementation of an actual industrial project alongside Siemens specialists.
The focus topics were filtered in advance from Siemens’ 14 Corporate Core Technologies and taking into account the company’s priority ‘Make Digitalisation Work’:
- Data Analytics & Artificial Intelligence
- Simulation & Digital Twin
- Additive Manufacturing
- Cyber Security
- Blockchain Applications
The six-month programme aims to equip the trainees key areas of know-how in understanding industrial digitalisation and the factory of the future, and provide the unique opportunity to apply these new skillsets to real industrial projects alongside Siemens experts.
Empowering the Future
The COVID-19 situation has forced industries to expedite manufacturing processes and programmes that otherwise would have taken more time to plan and execute in the past.
As the world faces a new normal, more businesses are expected to examine their operational set-up, explore areas that urgently require improvement, and embrace digitalisation to reshape their manufacturing and supply chains to be more productive, competitive, resilient and sustainable, while at the same time initiating programmes that would upskill the workforce to keep them up with these technology innovations. And Siemens will be along the way, empowering every stakeholder towards a better, digitalised future.
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