Starting down the digital path

Wednesday, Aug 01, 2018 09:31

Siemens Việt Nam president and CEO Pham Thai Lai

The digital technology movement has developed rapidly and made a significant impact on Vietnamese enterprises, especially small and mid-sized enterprises. Pham Thai Lai, CEO of Germany’s Siemens Vietnam, spoke to Viet Nam News about how domestic firms can utilise digital technologies to be more competitive in the local and global playgrounds.

What do you see as the challenges facing Viet Nam’s manufacturers and how should they address these obstacles through digitalisation?

Reducing time to market, greater flexibility requests, and increasing quality at the lowest possible price while being energy efficient are the main challenges manufacturers face today. Apart from that, they must decide on where to start their digitalisation journey and what to fix first before going any further.

Digitalisation can help manufacturers with their complete value chain starting from product design, production planning, product engineering, product execution and finally, operational services. Siemens offers a holistic approach to the integration of manufacturers’ value chains. We are currently the only technology provider to have a thorough product portfolio addressing all five value chain steps of a digital enterprise: product design, production planning, engineering, execution and services. We go beyond our role as a product or system provider to being a consultant that provides additional advice to manufacturers on how to customise and tailor an ideal digitalised road map.

What significance does digitalisation have for the automotive industry?

Today, the automotive industry, which includes car manufacturers as well as their suppliers, is the most competitive industry and is also very capital-intensive.

If you look at the huge number of combination possibilities that a client has when ordering a car today, such as: How much horsepower? A diesel, gasoline or electric engine? Color? Upholstery? Sunroof? Which entertainment system? With all these factors in mind, it becomes clear that the production processes are highly complex. Digitalisation can make this complexity significantly more manageable, meaning that digitalization is an efficient assistance system for automotive production. Digitalisation supports faster and more efficient processes despite growing demands.

With the Siemens Digital Enterprise our customers can invest in future-proof solutions for the step-by-step implementation of Industry 4.0. Let’s talk about Viet Nam specifically.

Last year, Vingroup and Siemens signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote comprehensive technological co-operation in a number of important industries, including the automobile industry. We are helping Vingroup to realise digital enterprises manufacturing goals. Both parties have also agreed to join forces to work on advanced plant management and operation systems towards Industry 4.0.

Siemens is a partner for the Vinfast automobile manufacturing project, which was kicked off by Vingroup on September 2, 2017. Siemens is working with Vinfast on implementing Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), and Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Simatic IT.

MES SIMATIC IT is a sophisticated, highly scalable MES that delivers multiple capabilities and allows you to combine production efficiency with quality and visibility, as well as production optimisation, ultimately resulting in higher manufacturing responsiveness. It is part of Siemens Industrial Software Portfolio offer for Digital Enterprises, the holistic solution that supports the entire value chain, from product development through production planning, production engineering and production execution to service.

Vinfast nurtures an ambitious goal to become Southeast Asia’s leading car manufacturer and an ambitious aspiration to roll out the first car in 24 months. I think they can achieve both, especially the second one thanks to deploying state-of-the-art technologies. Next year, you will see many fancy and modern cars on the streets made in Việt Nam with our PLM technology.

Moreover, Vietnamese automobile manufacturers are strongly encouraged to use so called “digital twins”. It’s a virtual representation of a physical product or process, used to understand and predict the physical counterpart’s performance characteristics. Digital twins are used throughout the product lifecycle to simulate, predict, and optimize the product and production system before investing in physical prototypes and assets. By incorporating multi-physics simulation, data analytics, and machine learning capabilities, digital twins are able to demonstrate the impact of design changes, usage scenarios, environmental conditions, and other endless variables, eliminating the need for physical prototypes, reducing development time, and improving the quality of the finalised product or process.

What factors can help companies become a successful Digital Enterprise?

I think having a well prepared ‘shop-floor’ and a well thought through strategy are vital to successfully becoming a Digital Enterprise. We aim to support customers, regardless of their starting point, to identify barriers and provide solutions for streamlining ‘shop-floor’ to ‘top-floor’ operations and communications.

One key concept in this process is “smart data” – meaning the intelligent use of “big-data” – as well as automation and process know-how. A technical understanding of both of these terms coupled with a profound comprehension of industry business models are both necessary to succeed.

At the end of the day, it’s all about turning digital data into value for the company. Be it by using real-time asset data to run predictive service models, which substantially increases plant reliability, or energy analytics to reduce energy costs, just to name two examples.

So what is your advice for Vietnamese enterprises that are determined to become digitalised?

If Vietnamese enterprises would like to take advantages of future business opportunities and remain compe­titive, they have to undergo an internal and external transformation. On the one hand, they need to add digital solutions and services to their portfolios. This is the only way they can continue to satisfy customer requirements in the long term. On the other hand, they must also gear their internal processes to reflect the requirements of digital transformation. This does not mean that every business must quickly carry out this transformation to a digital enterprise at immense cost. However, a clear commitment by the company to a digitalisation strategy is essential.

And a starting point for Vietnamese enterprises on the digital path is cloud solutions. In industrial settings, cloud solutions can be used for predictive maintenance, energy data management, or resource optimisation. All these applications have a proven ability to help manufacturers save money. At Siemens, MindSphere – the cloud-based, open IoT operating system – enables these applications. MindSphere is a key element of the Digital Enterprise Software Suite which Siemens offers to all customers on their way to becoming a Digital Enterprise.

MindSphere has already been officially launched by Siemens in many countries. When will it arrive in Viet Nam, and could you share some updates about MindSphere with us?

MindSphere is an important building block of Siemens’ digitalisation strategy. It is a cloud-based, open IoT operating system. It transforms data into knowledge and knowledge into business success. It enables our customers to drive their digital transformation and creates new business opportunities. MindSphere provides data analytics and connectivity capabilities, tools for developers, applications and services. It can be used as the Operating System for cities as well.

I’m very pleased to announce that MindSphere will be officially launched in Viet Nam next week at a ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of Siemens official presence in Viet Nam. In fact, MindSphere was first introduced in Ha Noi at the Industry 4.0 Summit 2018 organised by the Government Office and the Central Economic Committee last month. I strongly believe MindSphere will become one of the most searched for keywords in the near future. And I will be able to share a lot of good and exciting news about it at my next time with Viet Nam News.

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