What’s the Big Deal?
Beginning in the late 18th century, we have watched industry advance from early days of harnessing the power of water, utilizing electricity and pioneering the assembly line, to using computers and automation¹. Today, we are amidst a new change that is being called the 4th Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, which “combine[s] the physical, digital, and biological worlds”¹, and is transforming how business and production processes work together. As opposed to the physical changes seen in prior stages, it is now programming of machines that drive interactions that are able to make organizations more efficient and connect people through technology.
A multinational conglomerate based in Germany, Siemens AG is a “global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability, and internationality for 170 years.”² The reach is vast both geographically and with sectors, as they span across manufacturing, energy, and healthcare. Considering the importance of the aforementioned industries from a societal perspective given dollars spent in these areas and visible relevance to our lives, it is crucial that Siemens remain at the forefront of new technology adoption. As such, they have adapted additive manufacturing as a means of creating high-quality prototypes that are created rapidly and with fewer resources used in the process, resulting in overall cost reduction.³
Ramping Now to Grow Later
Within a medium-term timeframe, Siemens has created the Digital Enterprise initiative to create a portfolio of solutions to address various solutions for movement to new technologies that will enhance product development processes. Siemens has stated that the 2018 goal was to abide by the motto ‘Digital Enterprise – Implement Now!,’ with the goal of bringing various capabilities to the marketplace as industry moves towards adapting to this 4th stage of the Industrial Revolution.² This plan aims to showcase that any company can utilize Siemens’ product offerings in order to add flexibility and efficiency to their processes, with this education being crucial given it is not only early adopters but the market as a whole that will eventually need to adapt to these trends in innovation in order to stay relevant.
See how Siemens has created a framework to address the challenges of digital innovation here:
In the short-term, Siemens announced in April 2018 that it launched an additive manufacturing network, that was focused on creating a platform where companies could make connections and collectively innovate in a network that was focused first on soliciting early adapters.5 This was set within the broader Digital Enterprise initiative, with a specific look at how this piece could enhance a development process. Upon creating what they consider to be an “ecosystem”, it could then be extrapolated such that the benefits could be brought to a broader audience. They also announced very recently a process simulation solution, a product which is “fully integrated into Siemens’ end-to-end Additive Manufacturing solution” and adds a physical product to the digital platform.
Fighting the Efficient Fight
I think Siemens has a solid foundation in place with the Digital Enterprise mission and Additive Manufacturing Experience Center and platform, though I think there are a few things that could be enhanced as the message continues to be rolled out and gain traction. First, I think the value proposition and product offering needs to be more visible to potential users/customers. While there was a physical location and the ability to access demos⁴, it was unclear in my research exactly how a company would harness Siemens’ knowledge to better amplify their production process and why they would find significant, immediate value. Second, I would double-down on forge strong partnerships with other industry leaders like Siemens has already begun to do with HP and Eos. This broad-based collaboration throughout the industry will be the driver of success in implementing additive manufacturing processes on a larger scale, as companies will need to adapt if they want to keep pace with innovation.
In thinking through the situation we face, a few questions come to mind. What obligations (if any) should be placed on multinational companies like Siemens to provide solutions for smaller companies to adapt to changing technologies? Do others believe we are truly embroiled in a distinct revolution separate from the rise of computers and automation? What are the ways in which companies will need to stay ahead of the curve, both from an innovation perspective as well as factoring in the costs of new technology implementation?
(Word count: 733)
 Forbes. “Why Everyone Must Get Ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution.” April 5, 2016. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2016/04/05/why-everyone-must-get-ready-for-4th-industrial-revolution/#690273ca3f90
 “Siemens turns the Industrie 4.0 vision into reality with its Digital Enterprise portfolio,” press release, April 23, 2018, on Siemens website, https://www.siemens.com/press/pool/de/pressemitteilungen/2018/corporate/PR2018040162COEN.pdf, accessed November 2018.
 “Additive Manufacturing”, Siemens website, https://www.siemens.com/content/dam/webassetpool/mam/tag-siemens-com/smdb/power-generation-services/distributed-generation/distributed-generation-and-compressors-services/3d_print/additivemanu-infographic-neu.pdf, accessed November 2018.
 “Additive Manufacturing Experience Center” Siemens Website, https://www.siemens.com/content/dam/webassetpool/mam/tag-siemens-com/smdb/corporate-core/market-specific-solutions/machinery-and-plant-construction/additive-manufacturing/siemens-additive-manufacturing-experience-center.pdf, accessed November 2018.
 Source: M2 Presswire, “Siemens launches Additive Manufacturing Network to transform global manufacturing”. ABI/INFORM via Proquest, accessed November 2018.
 Source: M2 Presswire, “Siemens introduces Additive Manufacturing Process Simulation solution to improve 3D printing accuracy”. ABI/INFORM via Proquest, accessed November 2018.
[Featured Video] Siemens. “Digital Enterprise Suite – Siemens answer to Industrie 4.0.” Youtube, uploaded April 12, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oivUopv2xyw, accessed November 2018.
[Featured Photo] https://additive-manufacturing-network.sws.siemens.com/, accessed November 2018.