Under the theme ‘Engineering the Future’, the recent annual Engineering Community Conference (ECC) was once again a resounding success. Hosted by technology specialist Esteq, the event provided engineering professionals from a wide range of industries the opportunity to share their experience and ideas on the use of technology to develop better products and systems.
The first day featured specialised training in areas such as reliability engineering, FEA and scripting, followed by the official opening a day later. The conference was then divided into specialised user-focused breakout sessions with emphasis 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.
Partners and sponsors at ECC 2018 were Siemens (platinum sponsor), SYSPRO (gold sponsor) and MSC Software (gold sponsor). Exhibitors included Aerotherm and Scheduling Solutions, as well as industry partners MESA Africa, SAIEE, RAPDASA, SAIMM, F1 in schools and Esteq.
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 Siemens Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives, 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 1. 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, Kim Roberts, 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, in production and specialised areas. This year there were 450 delegates, up from 260 last year. It is now the biggest engineering conference in South Africa. Siemens has always been in the drives business on the physical side and its software business is now run by Esteq, which works in a close strategic relationship with Siemens as a partner in Africa and the Middle East.
Leinen outlined 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. This is very important for us,” he said. “In South Africa it is important to us to really understand the challenges of the country and deliver to society.”
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 the IIoT to capture and analyse data easily, leading to better decision-making and increased productivity. This ecosystem provides the intelligent systems and solutions that allow knowledge to be shared across an organisation, a key success factor in today’s converged manufacturing environment.
For more information contact Jennifer Naidoo, Siemens Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives, +27 11 652 2795, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.siemens.co.za or Esteq Test & Measurement, +27 12 809 9500, email@example.com, www.esteq.com
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