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Elitza Bastian |

From the digital idea to the finished vehicle

The automotive industry faces dramatic changes in the years to come, both in terms of the car itself as well as production. The shift from classical engine concepts to e-cars, autonomous driving cars, autonomous production systems, and composite materials requires innovative production processes. Customers want highly individualized cars and automotive manufacturers must be able to respond quickly to changing market demands. In light of this, our automotive customers require a highly flexible and efficient production. A holistic approach is needed to connect processes and achieve the required flexibility. We are the only company that has products and solutions covering the entire process – from the design to the finished vehicle. This is thanks to our Digital Enterprise Software Suite (DESS) and associated hardware, which, together with industry-specific services, enable us to provide end-to-end digitalization along the entire value chain.

From the digital design to the prototype

Product design is the first stage of the production cycle and involves the digital creation of the car prototype. Our NX CAD (computer-aided design) and NX CAE (computer-aided engineering) software provide the ideal platform for this production stage. The software enables simulations to be carried out as early as the design phase. This means that optimizations can be performed at anytime during the development phase. The NX development environment is fully integrated into our Teamcenter data management system. We succeeded in convincing the car manufacturer Daimler of the benefits of this portfolio. The migration process, described by Daimler as the “biggest IT migration of recent decades”, was successfully completed in mid 2015.

Production optimization even before production begins

Production planning begins as early as the design phase. This is when our Tecnomatix portfolio can be put to use. Based on design data, production can be planned and simulated virtually. The results can then be used to optimize processes even before production begins. This enables a much quicker startup phase.

Not only can the entire production process be optimized, but energy efficiency can also be increased. One example of this is using Process Simulate to evaluate the most energy-efficient robotic paths.

Volvo Cars uses Tecnomatix for the planning and simulation of its production lines. This enables an early calculation of the production costs of new models and a reduction in the engineering costs.

Simple engineering thanks to a common database

The next step involves the engineering of the digitally planned production. Our TIA Portal is the key to developing and engineering highly flexible production lines and to effectively managing increasingly complex production engineering. A common database for all automation applications and integrated engineering software for all automation components are prerequisites for digitalization on the shop floor level. However, even in an age of software, hardware continues to play a key role. A scalable and sustainable hardware concept covering small applications through to complex production systems is therefore required. Shop Floor Connect offers a solution that prevents data transmission errors occurring during the workflow, from planning to production. ŠKODA has placed its trust in this solution for production engineering. The virtual commissioning saves production time and also increases workplace safety.

Efficient production with SIMATIC IT

The planning stages come together during production execution. Our Manufacturing Execution System (MES) portfolio enables the entire production process to be controlled, monitored, and optimized. Our MES SIMATIC IT impresses with its high scalability and wide range of functions. Efficient production is therefore seamlessly integrated with quality and transparency. Products have a shorter time-to-market and automobile manufacturers can react quicker to changes in production.

Maserati, the Italian car manufacturer, was able to considerably increase its productivity with the construction of the new Ghibli. With SIMATIC IT MES, Maserati is now able to monitor the entire production process in real time and maintain efficient and flexible production. As a result, the sports car manufacturer has increased its production threefold.

Data analysis reduces downtime

Another important topic is service. This is where the value of digitalization and the subject of Big Data come into play. Today’s modern automotive factories generate huge amounts of data. But this data needs to be exploited through smart analysis and the conversion of these data into smart maintenance and service activities.

An intelligent analysis can tell you where and why you are wasting energy. And smart analysis can also predict when a motor or other machine component will fail.

This is where our Plant Data Services can make the difference – turning big data into recommended actions. These services help save energy, show the improvement potential for your production processes, and also help reduce downtime. With our Industry Services, we offer new ways of increasing the productivity of your plant.

Volkswagen relies on Siemens Condition Monitoring Services for the retrofit of its press line to monitor the status of all machines. Errors can therefore be detected early on, downtime can be reduced, and production can be consistently maintained.

Maximum potential through a holistic approach

Our holistic approach offers a completely new strategy that involves integrating the individual stages of the entire automobile production value chain. This interplay leads to a more efficient production, from the digital idea through to the finished vehicle, and therefore enables a quicker time-to-market. Production is consequently more flexible and at the same time offers maximum quality – providing a solid basis on which to react quickly to changing market demands.

In our blog series on the automobile industry we will provide you with insights into our solutions for Automotive Manufacturing. We will demonstrate how our customers can perfect the stages in the value chain through digitalization and how this can be applied on the shop floor. With our products and services we support the automobile industry on its way to digitalization.

Follow our coming articles in the series to learn more about the competitive advantages that can be gained thanks to digitalization.

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