Staying ahead of industry 4.0

May 1, 2019

Advanced engineering and digital skills are at the heart of industrial change at Siemens Plc, says Darren Davidson, managing director of Service Power Generation

The North East is synonymous with advanced manufacturing and engineering – from automotive and aerospace to the energy sector. The region boasts a strong skillset owing to its world-class universities and the diverse range of companies operating across various supply chains.

Siemens is proud to be part of this. In June this year the Siemens Power Generation business, based in Newcastle, celebrates 130 years on the CA Parsons Works site. The footprint of the site and the ownership of the site has changed over the years but the service provided to our customer base has remained, for the most part, the same.

While the power generation is a mature business, the engineering and manufacturing sector is going through unprecedented change, so it’s an exciting time to lead this business. We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, something our CEO, Juergen Maier, is very passionate about. This move towards digitalisation in an industrial setting isn’t bypassing traditional engineering businesses. As technology is changing, so is Siemens.

Digitalisation alongside traditional engineering and advanced manufacturing has allowed us to deliver the same customer service but quicker, faster and in a more accurate way. For us, advanced manufacturing and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (industry 4.0) is about enhancing our skills portfolio, not replacing people.

On our site, this means we’re using digital technology to improve accuracy and speed up delivery of service. Our vacuum chamber is an excellent example of this. You’ll see it as you drive down Shields Road as the big piece of machinery shrouded in concrete that dominates the northern side of the Siemens CA Parsons site. Originally built in the 1950s, and one of only two in the UK, it has been given a £4 million digital upgrade to improve the services we provide to customers in making sure their equipment is fit for operation.

And while we are implementing digital services on our sites, we’re also working with customers to help them navigate Industry 4.0 too.

For our site operations teams based at Severn Power in Uskmouth, we’re exploring cloud-based solutions, remote operations and diagnostics.

We run and maintain this site on behalf of our customer Calon Energy and this year we are developing a digital showcase at the power station.

A range of fully digital solutions will be implemented including a digital twin of the traditional cyber security platforms, remote diagnostics and digital analytics. This will provide greater clarity on the way the power station is operating helping to improve efficiency.

This work shows the value of Siemens as a partner with its customers. Using our vast experience of a range of operations across the world, we very much become a trusted adviser. Our gas and power business, for example, provides end-to-end solutions through the whole value chain from construction, power generation, transmission through to operation and service.

The power generation industry is traditionally conservative when it comes to implementing new technology, but it truly is an exciting time. At Siemens, we know that our customers value our expertise. We believe we’re one of the only companies in the world that can marry up traditional advanced engineering skills for the energy sector with digital skills – this makes the future of our sector truly exciting and we are pleased to be part of it.

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