Manufacturers are facing new challenges as they look to restart or maintain operations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As preparations are made for the “next normal”, manufacturers must consider additional dimensions of employee safety, including the establishment of production environments and workflows that address physical distancing requirements. Combining proven hardware and software, Siemens has created a new solution that enables companies to quickly and efficiently model how employees interact with each other, the production line and plant design. The new solution also enables organizations to build an end-to-end digital twin, in order to simulate worker safety, iterate on and optimize workspace layouts and validate safety and efficiency measures to help future-proof production lines.
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Siemens introduces workplace distancing solution to manage “next normal” manufacturing (Photo: Business Wire)
With Siemens’ SIMATIC Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS), companies can continuously measure distances between workers, provide real time visual feedback to employees regarding their spacing from others and create a log of all movements and interactions over time. In this way the Siemens’ SIMATIC RTLS continuously facilitates safe distancing while providing numerous additional benefits.
Combining Siemens’ SIMATIC RTLS with a digital twin of the actual manufacturing environment permits companies to model and simulate how employees interact with the equipment and each other, enabling them to iterate and optimize safety and productivity in the short term, and validate a redesign of the entire operation before more costly physical changes are made.
“We are helping our customers create a safe work environment, which is extremely important as they look to produce efficiently and reliably under unprecedented circumstances,” said Tony Hemmelgarn, President and CEO of Siemens Digital Industries Software. “The combination of real time distancing management and digital simulations will help companies maintain safe work environments today and make educated decisions about ongoing and long-term optimization.”
In order to implement this solution, Siemens’ SIMATIC RTLS transponders are embedded in badges which are worn as personal protective equipment by all employees. RTLS receivers placed throughout the operation can then continuously track and record workforce movement. When two employees are in a risk scenario (e.g., less than six feet apart), their badges will display a warning, alerting them to the situation. The data collected over time can be analyzed to identify “hot spots” where risk scenarios occur frequently. Such situations become easily actionable via the digital twin, which is provided by Siemens’ Tecnomatix® Process Simulate and Plant Simulation software. Utilizing the collected data, new manufacturing layouts or workflows can be simulated until one is determined to provide the desired outcomes, which can then be implemented in the physical operation.
Beyond this, manufacturers can add traceability to the solution through Siemens’ on-premise solutions or an application such as Siemens’ Trusted Traceability Application on MindSphere®, the cloud-based, open IoT operating system from Siemens, which helps enable rapid, comprehensive contact analysis in the unfortunate event of an actual workplace illness. All movement and contact with the affected employee can be visualized, enabling rapid notification of those who came into close contact and selective (rather than site-wide) deep cleaning of exposed physical environments.
“Siemens is providing a powerful, rapidly deployable solution that helps manufacturers take control of their operations and achieve better safety, productivity and cost outcomes today and in the post-Covid era,” said Raj Batra, President of Digital Industries for Siemens USA. “Our solution consists of proven technologies that can begin delivering results for most manufacturers in one to two weeks.”
For more information on how Siemens can help manufacturers during these times, please see here.
Siemens Digital Industries (DI) is an innovation leader in automation and digitalization. Closely collaborating with partners and customers, DI drives the digital transformation in the process and discrete industries. With its Digital Enterprise portfolio, DI provides companies of all sizes with an end-to-end set of products, solutions and services to integrate and digitalize the entire value chain. Optimized for the specific needs of each industry, DI’s unique portfolio supports customers to achieve greater productivity and flexibility. DI is constantly adding innovations to its portfolio to integrate cutting-edge future technologies. Siemens Digital Industries has its global headquarters in Nuremberg, Germany, and has around 76,000 employees internationally.
Siemens AG (Berlin and Munich) is a global technology powerhouse that has stood for engineering excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality for more than 170 years. The company is active around the globe, focusing on the areas of power generation and distribution, intelligent infrastructure for buildings and distributed energy systems, and automation and digitalization in the process and manufacturing industries. Through the separately managed company Siemens Mobility, a leading supplier of smart mobility solutions for rail and road transport, Siemens is shaping the world market for passenger and freight services. Due to its majority stakes in the publicly listed companies Siemens Healthineers AG and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Siemens is also a world-leading supplier of medical technology and digital healthcare services as well as environmentally friendly solutions for onshore and offshore wind power generation. In fiscal 2019, which ended on September 30, 2019, Siemens generated revenue of €86.8 billion and net income of €5.6 billion. At the end of September 2019, the company had around 385,000 employees worldwide. Further information is available on the Internet at www.siemens.com.
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