Keywords: SIMATIC IT R&D Suite, User Group, LIMS, Specification Management, Electronic Lab Notebook, Kraft, Cargill, Reynolds American Tobacco.
While Siemens has held several SIMATIC IT Excellence Days events in recent years, there had not been a focused user group meeting for SIMATIC IT R&D Suite users in quite a while. So it is not surprising that 130 users from Europe and America accepted Siemens' invitation to participate in the recent global user group event held at the company's facility located close to Brussels, Belgium. Here, the warm hospitality inside helped compensate for the traditional drizzle outside.
ARC Advisory Group actively participated in the event and this report highlights a selection of the many presentations and round tables during the first day of the user group meeting.
Innovation Strategy and Roadmap
Roland Melzer, head of Siemens Industrial Automation System Software, which is organized at the same level in the company as the process and factory automation businesses, said the Siemens Manufacturing Operations Management product segment has shown consistent growth of around 20 percent annually since 2001. SIMATIC IT R&D Suite is part of the segment and has dedicated developers and worldwide delivery hubs. As suppliers across the industry are under pressure to reduce the time it takes to update products, Siemens aims to reduce time-to-market in the segment along the three axes of the ARC Advisory Group's Collaborative Management Model: along the supply chain axis with planning and scheduling optimization provided by the recent Preactor acquisition; along the operations axis with the SIMATIC IT Production Suite; along the product lifecycle axis based on SIMATIC IT R&D Suite; and managing performance of the overall process with the SIMATIC IT Intelligence Suite.
Strongly committed to its own products, Siemens uses SIMATIC IT in the company's electronics manufacturing plant in Amberg, to which Mr. Melzer invited event participants to request a site visit. Significantly, he announced the future SIMATIC IT V7 release. This will be based on a new platform combining all manufacturing operations management (MOM) capabilities with more common components such as uniform workflow modeling, improved usability based on real usage scenarios, the inclusion of the value framework for solution configuration, and the estimation of its added value. This will also enable the integration of functionality in currently separate MOM and SCADA applications and sharing of common components, such as visualization of real-time, historical and performance-related data, such as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
Edwin Houdijk, product manager of SIMATIC IT R&D Suite provided more detail for the product suite. This included details on the integration of the four components -- SIMATIC IT Unilab, ELN, Interspec, and Formula Workbench -- on a single platform with common workflow engine. ARC believes that users will welcome the commitment and effort related to this major new release, since it will improve the scalability and adaptability of the platform architecture. This should help increase efficiency and enable further successive improvements, updates, and additions.
R&D and Production Strategies: Quality and Efficiency by Design
ARC gave a presentation addressing challenges in information and business process management in the product and process innovation domains. The presentation discussed different ways to improve time-to-market and product profitability by improving efficiency and "quality by design," both in business and information processes. Information quality and business process automation address efficiency improvements. Proactive, risk- and science-based quality methodologies support both quality and efficiency. Using a simple example – producing boiled eggs – ARC explained the activities throughout the product and process lifecycles related to building quality into the product and the process; quality risk management; and quality production system.
The life sciences industry pioneered these practices, which are also likely to become important for the food & beverage industries as well. They are harmonized across the US, Europe, and Japan and recommended by the different regulators. ARC stated that, in addition, recently developed modular production technologies, involving faster, more flexible continuous processes will favor these methodologies even more in coming few years. Since these will require more continuous production processes, more automated business processes, and more in-line and at-line quality measurements; there is further potential in solutions evolving around specification management and lab information management.
Business Process and Application Integration Strategies
Filip Schiettecat gave an insightful overview of how Teamcenter and SIMATIC R&D Suite support ideation, innovation, product and process management, regulatory compliance, and project and portfolio management activities. He explained how Siemens offers end-to-end PLM solutions for hybrid or batch process industries using SIMATIC IT R&D Suite and Teamcenter together.
Mr. De Wechter from Cargill gave a visionary overview of the company's journey since it started implementing SIMATIC IT Unilab and Interspec in 2000. The company gradually implemented specifications for raw materials, process parameters, and finished products. Integration with ERP and MES was not simple due to the multiple locations and application instances. Today, the goal is to be able to deliver goods to customers from five locations, without any noticeable or measurable differences. Having tried different options, Mr. De Wechter shared that, for Cargill, the most rational way to architect the solution is to implement manufacturing master data management in SIMATIC IT Interspec, populating ERP, SCM, MOM, and LIMS (Unilab) records from this master.
Technical Architecture and Information Flows at Cargill
Implementation Case Studies
Kimberly Loyza from Kraft reported on a project to streamline specifications worldwide for Kraft products. This required reducing from 21 applications to a single application for over 3,000 users, and providing support for multiple languages and regulatory requirements globally. After defining a common language and ingredients, over 80,000 specifications were delivered. Ms. Loyza showed how the company transformed legal definitions of food claims into elementary rules built into a food claims module. These make it possible, amongst others, to calculate the validity of a claim by regulation against the corresponding wording on the product label. According to Ms. Loyza, the company achieved the targeted synergy. It's interesting to note that the company split in two after the project, and both parties continue to use the project results.
June Reece from Reynolds American Tobacco discussed the company's selection and implementation of SIMATIC IT Interspec. The company chose the solution because it fulfills all requirements for product data management, plus provides work flow automation and connectivity with ERP, MES and legacy systems.
Ms. Reece reported the following benefits from the implementation:
Reduction of specification support staffing to one-third required for legacy systems
Reduced system failures
Common specification formats
Faster speed to market
Reduced training costs
Product data information accuracy
The global user group meeting focused on SIMATIC IT R&D Suite provided a platform for formal and informal exchange between Siemens, users, and integrators. The enthusiasm and openness with which users shared implementation strategies and case studies and answered questions from other users indicated a high level of interest for the meeting. ARC observed that users shared very valuable practices and insights. Siemens made significant commitments and announcements demonstrating that the company understands its customers' needs and the company has taken these into account in its innovation strategies and roadmaps.
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