By Oren Manor, Director of Business Development with the Valor Division at Mentor, A Siemens Business
In Industry 4.0, representations of real-world products and processes are a digital thread of information that moves through design to manufacturing and out into the field. In a smart factory operation, people and machines are able to use this digital thread to provide feedback in a continuous flow of information. Languages that can communicate from people to machines as well as between machines and processes facilitate the data flow; they are the building blocks for this digital thread.
Initiatives developed by Siemens/Valor engineers over the last decade in product and process engineering and shop-floor data control enable inclusion of all machine vendors and solution providers while addressing the needs of manufacturers, in the transformation of electronics production to Industry 4.0.
Underlying this digital thread, providing the data for closed-loop manufacturing, are connected digital twins, virtual representations of the factory design and operation, product design, verification, testing, and simulation, the manufacturing processes, and factory production systems and machines. These digital twins connect what were silos of valuable information from all aspects of production, bringing the ability to collaborate between software and hardware, mechanical and electrical in a continuous thread that can be used to accelerate optimization of the product and its manufacture.
Siemens is working on all phases of this smart manufacturing flow, from engineering to production execution, connecting software and hardware tools in a new way to provide this unique closed-loop feedback. Engineers working on the Siemens MOM software and Mentor’s Valor technology recently collaborated to create a unique MES that covers the complete mechatronics manufacturing process. The MES Siemens Opcenter Execution Electronics (formerly known as Camstar Electronics Suite) software activates the seamless flow of product and business data between PLM, ERP, and shop-floor execution through an integrated digital thread, enabling faster and streamlined change cycles. Using this single data source, closed-loop feedback from production to design and engineering departments can result in improved quality levels and shorter NPI processes and go-to-market times.
Siemens’ own technology development efforts are benefitting from the company’s advanced operational factories, which are early adopters of these innovations. “The Siemens Opcenter Execution Electronics introduces a layer of value that we could never reach with our existing set of disconnected tools, even with custom integration,” says Hermann Kraus, MES project lead at the Siemens Fürth factory. “The inclusion of Valor IoT data acquisition in the suite has drastically simplified the deployment across our assembly lines. And, we have optimized material flow with Valor material management inside Camstar. We are currently introducing the second step that will deliver a true one-stop-shop solution for electronics manufacturing management, covering all process areas, and is integrated with PLM and ERP.”
Siemens Opcenter Execution Electronics software is built on Camstar’s successful enterprise-level platform for integrated circuit (IC) manufacturing. The new powerful, configurable, and scalable MES enables PCB and box assemblers to meet traceability requirements, improve efficiency levels, and control manufacturing operations through direct IoT connectivity with machines and production lines.
Expanding on the Siemens Digital Enterprise platform, Siemens Opcenter Execution Electronics creates a true digital thread to empower electronics companies to further their digitalization strategy in line with Industry 4.0. By closing the loop between engineering and the shop floor, and enabling quick reactions to design modifications, manufacturers can shorten product lifecycles, increase production complexities, and improve quality across the entire manufacturing lifecycle.
“This collaboration with Mentor’s Valor technology along with the introduction of Siemens Opcenter Execution Electronics further expands our positioning in the electronics market and fortifies our leadership as industry trendsetters,” says René Wolf, senior vice president of MOM for Siemens Digital Industries Software. “In an era where mass customization and rapid time-to-market determine the ability of electronics companies to succeed, manufacturing processes must be flexible and smart enough to accommodate rapid change in product requirements while optimizing production efficiency and improving the overall product quality. This is exactly the kind of innovation that the Camstar Electronics Suite delivers to the market.”
In the past, MOM for PCBs was often handled by one solution while another solution was implemented for box-build (i.e., enclosures, other components to be incorporated into a product, and final electronic products and/or systems). But an Industry 4.0 enterprise must take a holistic approach to digitalization, making maximum use of it at every level to control and accelerate improvements in productivity, quality, and operational costs. Such an approach streamlines manufacturing through its entirety, going even beyond electronics and PCBs, by creating transparency between production tasks. Advanced planning and scheduling efforts can more easily monitor and account for real production environments, change orders, unexpected events, and other factors for which multiple solutions currently require a more involved, hands-on, and time-consuming response.
A unified, holistic approach to digitalization is one of the pillars of Siemens’ recently released Opcenter Execution Electronics solution. Leveraging the multi-domain production solutions in Siemens Digital Industries Software portfolio, which manage manufacturing execution, advanced planning and scheduling, materials and supply, quality and machine intelligence, Siemens Opcenter Execution Electronics harmonizes collaboration across all of these manufacturing management areas. The solution incorporates in a single solution the Siemens Opcenter Execution Electronics MES technology and box-build functionalities with manufacturing solutions provided by the Valor tools.
Siemens Opcenter provides tight integration of manufacturing operations software to support distributed and closed-loop manufacturing more easily. It includes a familiar—yet tailorable—interface, smart-device readiness, codeless extensibility and faster time to value, and a progression from cloud-ready apps to cloud-native apps.
The Siemens integrated manufacturing management portfolio is an open platform for these technologies so that investment today will continue to evolve and provide benefit as products and production lines evolve.
Siemens is the world’s leading supplier of programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and the Siemens Amberg Electronics Plant is the company’s showcase plant for implementing Industry 4.0; 12 million PLCs are manufactured there each year. The Amberg operation is a successful example of Siemens’ Digital Enterprise platform in action. Using the smart manufacturing for electronics approach, the plant’s real and virtual manufacturing worlds are completely integrated. Product codes tell production machines what requirements they have and which production steps must be taken next. Products and machines determine which items on which production lines should be completed when to meet delivery deadlines. Independently operating software agents monitor each step to ensure compliance with regulations.
These practices rapidly turn innovation into products. Between the use of digital prototypes and the ability to simulate and optimize production processes in software, the time it takes for the Amberg plant to introduce new products is 50% less than other Siemens PLC factories. Changeover time takes half the time. New order lead-time is 24 hours, with the ability to handle a lot size of one. Production quality at the plant is nearly 100%, and a series of test stations detect the few defects that do occur. The factory has seen cost savings as much as 25%.
Out-of-the-box, mix-and-match, customizable, full-flow, and fully integrated are the types of solutions available for manufacturers today to build the layers of their digital factory. Siemens Digital Industries Software provides many of these tools, including Teamcenter, Active Workspace for Teamcenter software, NX™ software, Teamcenter Manufacturing, the Tecnomatix® portfolio, MindSphere, SIMATIC, Siemens Opcenter Execution Electronics MES, Preactor software, Opcenter, Valor™ Material Management software, Valor Process Preparation software, Valor IoT manufacturing platform, and Valor Manufacturing Analytics software for adding a layer of business intelligence. Valor also supports the free tools OML for platform/vendor-agnostic machine communication and ODB++ for making a product model that can be used as a digital twin from design through to manufacturing. This software provides much-needed functionality for electronics manufacturers seeking to build an Industry 4.0 operation.
About the Author: Oren Manor serves as the director of business development for Mentor’s Valor division. His responsibilities include business ownership of Valor’s engineering and pre-production tools as well as partnerships and OEM engagements. Oren brings over 15 years of experience in sales and marketing of embedded and industry software.