The 2019 Siemens Automation Summit event was held on June 17-20 outside Denver, Colorado. Over 700 attendees heard Raj Batra, president of Siemens Digital Industries USA, discuss the sustained organic R&D that Siemens has made in addition to integrating several high-profile software acquisitions. Batra emphasized that both organic R&D and acquisitions were needed to address their customers who require far more manufacturing flexibility than in the past.
Over 50 breakout sessions covered a wide variety of topics; product roadmaps, project histories, customer feedback, training, and panel discussion. ARC was most interested in the roadmap for the flagship DCS product SIMATIC PCS 7 and how it meshes with the rollout of the new SIMATIC PCS neo that was announced earlier in 2019 at Hannover Fair. Siemens key customer message was that they will continue to develop PCS 7 for years to come and will expand the capabilities of PCS neo over the same time. ARC will soon publish a report covering this strategy.
A IT/OT panel session featuring Siemens and their long-time networking partner, Aruba Networks, focused on the different metrics driving each area and ways the combination of Siemens and Aruba can bridge this gap, provided that organizations are willing to support it. Michael Tennefoss of Aruba noted that while the IT/OT relationship in some manufacturing firms had improved, others had long-running disfunction that is becoming ever costlier.
SIMATIC PCS neo
In addition to the product roadmap sessions, one session featured the experience of a Siemens Solution partner who had engineered an actual project with a pre-release version of the new PCS neo software. The project chosen for this was a relatively simple air separation unit operation. Such a project would have been a “cookie cutter” if repeated with PCS 7. It enabled Siemens and its partner to test out the new software, capabilities, and workflows using a real-world PCS 7 application as a starting point. In general, the solution partners seemed both interested in the new DCS and pleased with Siemens’ non-disruptive rollout plan.