SMEs must urgently embrace cultural and technological change, says Siemens
German manufacturing giant Siemens has issued a rallying cry to small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to urgently embrace cultural and technological change, and grasp the opportunity of digital transformation.
Specifically, Siemens addressed small-and-medium sized manufacturing businesses in Germany, as “the backbone of the Germany economy”, at the German SME Forum (‘Forum Deutscher Mittelstand’) in Stuttgart this week.
It said small and mid-sized manufacturers could reduce ‘time-to-market’ for new products by 30 per cent and increase production efficiency and productivity by 25 per cent by implementing Industry 4.0 techniques.
Klaus Helmrich, managing board member of Siemens, urged SMEs to embrace industrial collaboration and transformation, and seek out new production technologies and business models.
“The digital transformation of SMEs is essential for the future viability of Germany as a business location. This requires increased collaboration between companies of different sizes – from start-ups to large corporations,” he said.
“The successful digital transformation of SMEs requires strategic decisions by top management on two levels. They need to align their portfolio with Industry 4.0 and further develop their internal processes. This also includes training and further education and employees.”
Siemens said companies should look to offer new solutions, services and business models, including ‘pay-per-use’ for machinery sales and plant hire. Technologies like cloud applications, additive manufacturing, flexible handling systems and artificial intelligence must be more fully embraced, to bring flexibility and intelligence to manufacturing processes.
At the same time, it urged enterprises to consider integrated industrial security measures as an essential means to increase confidence in IT technologies and reduce cyber risks.
Siemens is not simply a cheerleader for Germany’s industrial transformation, of course. It has a major stake as a digital change-maker for industrial firms. Its ‘digital enterprise’ portfolio offers ways for SMEs to achieve greater flexibility, shorter time-to-market, increased efficiency, and enhanced quality, it said.
Helmrich talked up the company’s MindSphere World initiative, launched in January, which has 50 member-companies in Germany and Italy, and plans to roll out across the rest of Europe’s industrial heartlands. The association supports members to develop IoT solutions on its MindSphere industrial IoT platform.
Helmrich said: “MindSphere World is exemplary for new forms of cooperation between companies of different sizes and industries as well as start-ups and research institutions. I’m convinced that this kind of collaboration is the key to the success of Industry 4.0.”