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Engineering the future
3rd Quarter 2018, News & events

With the theme ‘Engineering the Future’, the recent annual Engineering Community Conference (ECC) was once again a resounding success. Hosted by engineering technology specialist, ESTEQ, with Siemens as a platinum sponsor, the conference provided engineering professionals from a wide range of industries the opportunity to share their experience and ideas for the use of technology to develop better products and systems.

Following the keynote addresses, the conference was divided into specialised user-focused breakout sessions focusing on areas such as simulation, test and measurement, product engineering and lifecycle management, manufacturing solutions, and the digital enterprise. Papers were presented by engineers from a wide variety of industries and technology applications. Some of the tantalising subjects included the state of the defence industry, a flight simulator for mining, innovative trailer design, rapid structural measurement through AI, and the role of MOM within the digital enterprise.

Dr Frans Cronje, director of the Centre for Risk Analysis and leader of its strategic intelligence team gave a thought-provoking talk on ‘South Africa to 2030, a Strategic Intelligence Briefing’. He shared key economic drivers and their impact on the country and the fundamental pressures that will determine our future. His advice: stop trying to beat uncertainty, strategise for a plural future, sketch the realm of possibilities with scenarios, be prepared to turn on a dime and use fear of uncertainty as an advantage.

Ralf Leinen, vice president of Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives - Siemens Southern & Eastern Africa, then described ‘The Digital Transformation of the Producing Economy – Driving the Digital Enterprise’ and Siemens’ vision of the digital twin. He said that digitalisation changes everything and is critical for meeting the demands of today’s customers: speed, efficiency, flexibility, quality and efficiency. It enables more flexible solutions in automation, design, production process and structures. It is the key for competitiveness and it is accomplished by creating the digital twin. Along the value chain the digital twin can digitally design, plan, simulate, optimise and verify, with virtual commissioning followed by analysis and evaluation of production performance.

In the automotive industry, Siemens’ Digital Enterprise Suite has resulted in shorter time to market, fewer prototypes, shorter commissioning times and easier prediction of faults. In the food and beverage industry it has delivered better flexibility, wider product diversity, higher quality of end products and more efficient filling processes. In the paint industry it has allowed smaller batch sizes – the batch size of one. The huge amounts of data generated can be simply and easily analysed on the factory floor with simple downloadable apps linked to Siemens’ cloud-based open operating system for IIoT, MindSphere.

Motion Control’s editor managed to catch up with Ralf Leinen and ESTEQ CEO, Cobus Oosthuizen, who explained that ECC started 25 years ago as a user’s conference for mechanical simulation. It has grown over the years and now attracts a wide engineering community. Presenters come from all engineering disciplines, with a very strong presence in mechanical and industrial. This year there were 450 delegates, up from 260 last year. It is now the biggest engineering conference in South Africa.

Ralf Leinen explained how Siemens tracks key market trends and translates these to market requirements. “Product definition is achieved through service, fairs and talks with our clients to monitor trends and product requirements,” he said. “In South Africa it is important to us to really understand the challenges of the country and deliver to society.”

He added that Siemens’ digital journey actually started decades ago. An example is a Siemens factory in Germany that employed 1000 people 20 years ago and still employs 1000 people, but output has increased tenfold. New technology and automation lead to employment, education, skills and productivity. “In 20 years time we see Siemens as a trusted, industrially relevant market leader in the space of digitalisation, with leading edge solutions for our clients. New products will help us remain competitive, increase productivity and contribute to the African economy. This will be achieved through innovation with good business ethics.”

As an example he quoted Siemens’ open IIoT operating system, MindSphere, which has massive potential to help users develop applications in their own areas, for example energy efficiency and utilisation rates. It gives them the ability to use IIoT to capture and analyse data far more easily, leading to better decision making and increased productivity. This is an ecosystem with thousands of potential apps that can be developed by users, where all knowledge can be shared.

For more information contact Jennifer Naidoo, Siemens Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives, +27 11 652 2795,,

Supplied By: Siemens Digital Factory & Process Ind. & Drives
Tel: +27 11 652 2382
Fax: 086 506 6149
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