Dr Vassilis Hatzikos: “Siemens is a leader and supporter on the road to Industry 4.0”

The belief that the greek industrial community has the ability to respond to rationality and adopt the principles that govern the 4th Industrial Revolution, trusting the cutting edge and state-of-the-art innovative technological solutions, products and applications that Siemens develops and has implemented with great success throughout the world, states Dr. Vassilis Hatzikos, Country Head Digital Industries of Siemens SA at STARTUPPER MAG. 

S.M. Dr. Hatzikos, how much has the sense of the 4th Industrial Revolution evolved and matured in Greece and how does Siemens support the digital transition of the greek industry to its next day? 

Dr Vassilis Hatzikos: As shown by data from the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which monitors the digital competitiveness of its member-states (2019 data), Greece is ranked 26th out of a total of 28 Member States of the European Union.This ranking clearly demonstrates, among other things, a lag in terms of the ability to adopt and implement technologies that help the digital transformation of the industry. 

Nevertheless, we all realize that in the last two years there has been a change as a result of the intensifying digital transformation process taking place in the country as a whole.Therefore, it also affects greek businesses. More and more people are realizing the benefits, the dynamics, the added value, the advantages over the competition and the prospects that are opening up for every business through digital transformation. This is a strategic choice.

At the same time, the emergence of the digital transition as one of the pillars of the Recovery and Resilience Fund (RFF) of the European Union, I believe, will contribute significantly to the further expansion of the number of businesses, but also of the sectors of activity that will choose to be on board in the “vehicle” of transformation, strengthening the presence of the organizations in an internationalized business landscape.

In Siemens, we are always “present” in the effort made by the companies of the greek industry to evolve and adapt to future needs and requirements, today, applying the digital transformation with speed, determination, knowledge and experience.

At the same time, we have highly integrated solutions and modern technologies, such as Additive Manufacturing and Digital Twins – which are a virtual copy of a product, machine, process or complete production facility – and ensure the smooth penetration of industries in the next day of the production process.

S.M. One of the innovative approaches that Siemens has developed is the Digital Enterprise. Do you want to explain to us the overall grid of functions that surrounds it, but also the rationale that characterizes it?

Dr Vassilis Hatzikos: Undoubtedly and regardless of the pandemic crisis, an industrial company today faces specific and complex challenges. For example the skills shortage of the workforce, the “fragile” supply chains, climate change, the lack of resources, etc. Elements that multiply the difficulties that the management of each industrial company must overcome in order to put on solid foundations its presence in a market with unpredictable variables.

In this landscape, Siemens has chosen to harmoniously “marry” the real with the digital world, in order to develop and utilize at the same time an extremely rich “portfolio” of modern technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, edge computing, cloud computing, industrial 5G, blockchain and Additive Manufacturing. Levels that all together, but also each one separately, put each industrial enterprise on a path to achieve Digital Enterprise! It goes without saying that in this context, cybersecurity is understood as a prerequisite that must be met, at a time when industrial security is seen as a top priority for successful digitalisation. In this light, we consider it to be an absolute key factor when designing innovative products, solutions and services.

S.M. How would you summarise the concept of Siemens’ Digital Enterprise?

Dr Vassilis Hatzikos: Digital Enterprise is for Siemens the holistic approach to the industries of the future. And this includes everything from products, machinery and processes to the entire production of the factory and the way in which everything works, that is hardware, data models, software solutions, and so on.

We believe that only through the combination of processes that use and constantly optimize virtual and real information, we are able to evolve and lead to something even better! That is the digital enterprise. And Siemens’ Digital Enterprise, and the solutions it offers, are applicable in almost all branches of industry: brewing, pharmaceutical production and even vehicle manufacturing.

S.M. Could you give us some concrete examples, through which greek industrial enterprises will enrich their field of knowledge, while recognizing similarities in challenges, but also “seeing” and “placing” themselves in the individual developments of the modern market?

Dr Vassilis Hatzikos: With pleasure! For a start, the Siemens Electronics Works Amberg (EWA) factory in Germany is among the Lighthouse Factories of the World Economic Forum. 

EWA is considered a pioneer in the process of digitization of the units, having managed, with the extensive use of new technologies and the appropriate training of Siemens’ human resources, the achievement of additional industrial production of 140% and this by developing two times more complex products and without the need to increase electricity consumption or even change energy sources.

In fact, in Amberg, Siemens uses new Industry 4.0 technologies on a daily basis, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), edge computing, cloud computing and “smart” robotics.

These characteristics mark some of the main pillars on which the transfer and operation of the production units of the next day will be based! The bottom line lies in the necessity of transforming a factory into a digitisation hub.

In this context, EWA acts as a testing laboratory for innovative technologies, products and services, contributing significantly to the formulation of solutions that in turn can help production units around the world to adapt to new, demanding conditions in the field of industry and make their digital transition to Industry 4.0.

S.M. I would dare to say that the example to which you referred earlier has many similarities with a significantly large percentage of greek industrial enterprises.

Dr Vassilis Hatzikos:The truth is that every country, sector of activity, degree of specialisation or maturity point may differ, but the fundamentals remain the same. 

Therefore, it goes without saying that the specific solutions, products and applications of Industry 4.0 are addressed and are fully compatible with the needs and requirements of greek industrial enterprises. These technologically advanced solutions and products ensure significant competitive advantages for businesses, such as improved time-to-market, predictive maintenance, anomaly detection and improved quality.

In this light, for example, the utilization of Siemens’ modern automation and digitization technologies has made it possible to mass produce the mRNA vaccine against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Specifically, Siemens supported BioNTech’s venture to convert an existing production facility in Marburg, Germany into an mRNA vaccine production plant.This is in a period of just 5 months (!), providing the necessary design, simulation and engineering software, as well as process control technology. The project was a complete success and – in fact – was the forerunner of the mass production of vaccines, last February.

Therefore, professionals active in domestic industrial production can understand the infinite possibilities and the highly lucrative prospects that are opening up in front of them, cooperating with Siemens and utilizing the countless solutions, products and applications that we have today and we are constantly renewing.

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