Siemens’ Dale Tutt delivers keynote at the inaugural Digital Transformation Forum

Addressing additions to the Siemens product portfolio, Tutt emphasized that technology alone won’t make a difference. Business processes must also be transformed.

When aerospace expert Dale Tutt joined Siemens in 2019, he was invited to present to BAE Systems around the Tempest next-generation fighter aircraft under development in the United Kingdom for the Royal Air Force. They wanted more capability and more flexibility than the fifth-generation fighters, but they were targeting a 50% program cost and schedule reduction. That’s a big challenge when manufacturing an airplane. It’s also indicative of a trend that is happening across the aerospace industry. 

“Every 20 years, the cost of a new aircraft program goes up by a factor of 10. It’s unsustainable,” said Tutt, vice president of industry strategy at Siemens Digital Industries Software, during his keynote at the 2024 Digital Transformation Forum in Boston. Tutt, who was vice president of program management at The Spaceship Company before joining Siemens, and held high-level roles at Textron Aviation, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Bombardier Aerospace, Learjet, understands better than anyone what needs to happen to change this trajectory. “Companies are not looking to bend these cost curves anymore; they’re looking to break them. And that’s what digital transformation can do for them.”

Dale Tutt at the Digital Transformation Forum in May 2024. (Image: WTWH Media.)

Dale Tutt at the Digital Transformation Forum in May 2024. (Image: WTWH Media.)

But this is not just an aerospace problem. This same scenario is playing out across other industries as they look for ways to fast-track progress while reducing engineering costs. 

To help, technology suppliers, such as Siemens, are stepping in with digital transformation technologies that can replicate the realities of physics in a digital format. By combining real and digital worlds, engineers can design and test each part of a product before it’s built, thereby reducing costly mistakes and accelerating innovation.

In his keynote, Tutt explored how the adoption of these technologies will change the way people live, work, and create. He addressed how it could solve food insecurity, deliver more quality healthcare, or even build zero-emission factories that are adaptable and productive. And he emphasized that the focus should not be just on engineering, but also on the enterprise. 

“We tend to think about digital transformation in the context of a product, how you can model an airplane or a car. The product or the production process is just a part of it. I think digital transformation is really about the business. It’s also your supply chain processes and it’s how you’re supporting products out in the field,” Tutt said. 

According to Tutt, when it comes to digital transformation, manufacturers need four things:

  1. A comprehensive digital twin that can optimize processes.

  2. Personalized and adaptable solutions that can be configured.

  3. A flexible and open ecosystem that allows the use of legacy systems while layering on new technology. 

  4. A digital thread that connects everything throughout the lifecycle of a product, taking it from conceptual design to developing system architectures to manufacturing and maintenance.

He referenced the Siemens Xcelerator as a place to start. It is an open digital business platform and marketplace of partners that provides hardware, software, and services for many different industries — which specifically addresses the “open ecosystem” he mentioned. To that end, Siemens is delivering on the other customer needs by enhancing its product portfolio. 

Announcements at Automate 2024

During a press conference at Automate 2024 in Chicago, Siemens executives unveiled new software and hardware advances for digitalization.

  • The Siemens SIMATIC Automation Workstation allows manufacturers to replace a hardware PLC, a conventional HMI, and an edge device with a single, software-based workstation, which the company says brings Internet Technology (IT) workflows to Operational Technology (OT) environments. SIMATIC Workstation can be viewed and managed from a central point, which means programming, updates, and patches can be deployed in parallel so that the shop floor remains in synch.

  • A new generation of controllers, The SIMATIC S7-1200 G2, is a space-saving controller that makes automation and programming easy while integrating safety.

  • Siemens Industrial Copilot, the generative AI-powered assistant, is now seamlessly connected to the Siemens Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal. This will enable engineering teams to generate basic visualization and code faster for PLCs. Repetitive tasks can be offloaded to the Siemens Industrial Copilot enabling the engineering of complex tasks to be less susceptible to errors, the company said.

  • The cloud-based SINEC Security Guard offers automated vulnerability mapping and security management optimized for industrial operators in OT environments. The software can automatically assign known cybersecurity vulnerabilities to the production assets of industrial companies. This allows industrial operators and automation experts who don’t have dedicated cybersecurity expertise to identify cybersecurity risks among their OT assets on the shop floor and receive a risk-based threat analysis. The software recommends and prioritizes mitigation measures. SINEC Security Guard is offered as cybersecurity software-as-a-service (SaaS), is hosted by Siemens, and will be available for purchase in July 2024 on the Siemens Xcelerator Marketplace.

For additional information on Siemens announcements at Automate 2024, read How to get more from automation with AI, digital threads in WTWH Media’s Control Engineering.

The immersive engineering opportunity

The technology that Tutt is most excited about is immersive engineering as it accelerates learning cycles. 

In aerospace, for example, engineering teams must work on the factory floor on an airplane to understand the context of how things work. But that learning cycle takes three years, he said. Now, with a headset, hand devices, and high-fidelity images, engineers can work in virtual reality. 

A new partnership between Siemens and Sony Corp. combines the Xcelerator portfolio of software with Sony’s Spatial Content Creation System that includes high-quality XR head-mounted displays and controllers dedicated to interaction with 3D objects. Expected to be available at the end of 2024, Siemens’ NX Immersive Designer combines NX CAD and CAM software with the Sony technology to enable immersive design and collaborative product engineering capabilities.

“So now, instead of just viewing a CAD model, you’re going to be able to start working in that CAD model with precision and actually start designing and making modifications to parts,” Tutt said.

Siemens is also delivering a more holistic environment for engineers to work in, including product lifecycle management software that can manage digital representations of all the different types of data for electrical or mechanical engineering, for example. In addition, Siemens is working to bring generative AI to its solutions, integrating machine learning into simulation tools used to design products or production processes.

“PLM provides a single source of truth, and then you’re able to use generative AI to help automate some of the workflows, create work instructions, but also be able to find data and documents faster,” Tutt said.

In addition, a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) integrates Amazon Bedrock’s advanced generative AI technologies with Siemens’ low-code development platform called Mendix. This allows manufacturers to start embedding AI into their solutions with more ease than have in the past. “It is democratizing AI,” said Tutt.

Digital business models

As processes are optimized via digital transformation technologies, so is the business. Tutt highlighted Blendhub, which has developed a Food-as-a-Service model, noting how the company has completely changed traditional food delivery business models. Blendhub uses Siemens digital twin technology to transform food production in more efficient and sustainable ways. 

Blendhub has built small factories that fit inside of a shipping container that they send out to the town that they want to serve. This is where they process all of the food locally. They have thousands of recipes that use foods indigenous to the areas they serve, and they manage all the recipes using PLM. They also use blockchain technology to ensure the security of their food supply.

“They can manage all of these things because they’ve done it in the digital world and then they are translating it out in the real world.” Tutt said. “It’s a great example of how you can transform the world with digital transformation.”