Product Lifecycle Management

Siemens PLM Is Realizing 100% Digitalized Manufacturing

7 Jun, 2018 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Acquisitions, key updates to core tools such as NX and Solid Edge, and developments in simulation, additive manufacturing, and more support a fully integrated, automated process.


Hackrod, a company aiming to revolutionize the way vehicles are created, wants its customers one day soon to design their own cars and manufacture the one-off creations as easily as they’d play a video game. As proof of concept, the company will create La Bandita, the world's first speedster designed in virtual reality, engineered using artificial intelligence (AI), and 3D printed of a structural metal alloy in full size.


Hackrod's La Bandita has a lattice-design chassis developed using the generative design tools in Siemens PLM Software NX, making it lightweight, structurally sound, and able to be 3D printed. 

The project took center stage at the Siemens PLM Connection Americas user conference this week in Phoenix. Hackrod CEO Mike “Mouse” McCoy said, “For us, it’s completely inspiring to pursue this thing that people say couldn’t be done.”

Hackrod's factory of the future is powered by the Siemens Digital Innovation Platform, which enables Hackrod to rapidly design, test, and manufacture vehicles without massive industrial infrastructure or tooling expense. Data about real-world vehicle performance, collected via the Internet of Things, and machine learning will fuel continual engineering systems improvement.

The Hackrod–Siemens PLM partnership represents “a shared vision of democratizing engineering design and manufacturing, where the consumer becomes the creator in the automotive space,” according to a press release, but Siemens PLM’s vision for a 100% “digitalized” process was highlighted at the conference for its potential to transform manufacturing at any level.

The Siemens Digital Innovation Platform

That digitalized process is built on a slew of impressive technologies that Siemens PLM has been acquiring since 2007, when it identified the potential value of a closed-loop, fully automated, integrated system to overcome the challenges of modern manufacturing. “It’s critical to have advanced technologies powering every phase of the innovation process,” said CEO Tony Hemmelgarn, from ideation to realization to utilization.


For more than ten years, Siemens PLM Software has been acquiring technologies and integrating with others to enable a fully digitalized, automated manufacturing process.

According to Siemens PLM, the Digital Innovation Platform

  • supports the automation of your business from top floor to shop floor;
  • allows for rapid innovation and validation of products and operations by creating the most precise digital twin that melds model-based simulations with test data and real performance analytics;
  • orchestrates the flow of information between all platform ecosystem participants, creating a traceable digital thread; and
  • enables an open and collaborative environment with speed and agility to capitalize on disruption in your business.


Core components of the Siemens PLM Software Digital Innovation Platform. 
 

Hemmelgarn explained that the Digital Innovation Platform isn’t about the tools that comprise it, but rather the right operating systems that connect them and facilitate automation. “It’s not about the software; it’s about the integration,” he said. “You won’t gain the full advantages of digitalization until you integrate [the tools] in a single digital thread.” Any point in the process that requires data translation into niche systems outside the digital thread, or any form of manual intervention, is lost opportunity.

At the heart of this concept is the digital twin, a model that fully represents the product being manufactured — whether a single assembly, a system comprising multiple entities, or a system of systems such as a vehicle or airplane. Autonomous driving applications, an extreme example, require multidisciplinary, multiphysics simulation of the operation of each system within a vehicle, how those systems interact, the real-world environment where the vehicle operates (including complex traffic scenarios), and more. A digital twin also can represent a machine used in the manufacturing process, or even an entire factory including human–machine interaction.

Once digitalized, aspects of the development process can potentially be simulated as well as automated. Using simulation, said Jan Leuridan, senior vice-president, Simulation and Test Solutions, “We can give a [process] digital twin a product to manufacture, and it can work out how best to manufacture the part and generate the code to use in the real manufacturing.”

Simulation — of product and process from end to end — is critical to the Digital Innovation Platform. Via Simcenter, the brand that encompasses all simulation and testing tools, Siemens is increasingly incorporating all levels of simulation across its technology portfolio.

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