18 October 2007

Siemens on factories of the future and seamless communication

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Siemens magazine
The latest issue of Pictures of the Future, the half-yearly research and innovation magazine of Siemens, the German engineering conglomerate, looks at the future, with Epcot style utopian thinking and illustrations straight from the Jetsons (check page 40).

Two topics stand out: “Factories of the Future” and “Seamless Communication”.

Factories of the Future is about making it possible to design products in the virtual world and to design and test their associated production processes there as well. If you are interested in spimes or the mechatronic challenge, this pretty enthusiastic engineering prose is reading material for you. But don’t expect a critical discourse about how this all matters to people.

What we’re moving toward is a virtual representation of the entire value chain — everything from raw materials to lifetime maintenance, remote service and product and production planning in a holistic, seamless product lifecycle and supply chain management environment,” says Paul Camuti, president of Siemens Corporate Research. “In twenty years the real and virtual worlds will be seamlessly integrated. Our simulations will duplicate reality down to the last detail. The result will be virtually limitless manufacturing flexibility.”

The result could also be a revolution in retailing and consumer purchasing. Already, some clothing stores provide “mass customized” personalized items. But as simulation technology matures, high-tech kiosks and “walk-in Websites” that link us to manufacturers and their suppliers may allow us to profoundly and realistically individualize, test and even experience the appearance and personalities of everything from phones and scooters to clothing and the design and decoration of our homes. We may even venture into virtual worlds ourselves.

Seamless Communication makes much of the Siemens collaboration with Nokia. Jarkko Sairanen, responsible for Nokia’s business strategy and technology planning, talks about the usability challenge (page 82-83). But there is also an article about the smart home which adapts to user profiles (page 86-87); and an insight piece on how to prevent production plants from being hacked (page 94-95) – I am not making this up.

Download report (pdf, 3.7 mb, 55 double pages)

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