There is definitely one executive out on the front lines providing thought leadership for what he calls the Manufacturing Renaissance in the US. Interestingly, he is German and CEO of a German company–well, regional CEO anyway.

Helmuth Ludwig, CEO of Siemens Industry USA, just held his second press conference of the year touting manufacturing improvements. First he was at the Detroit Auto Show discussing digital manufacturing. Now, he was promoting an article he has co-authored with Siemens Corp. US CEO, Eric Spiegel. The article was published in strategy+business, a publication of global management consulting firm Booz & Co.

Once again, Ludwig discusses a new wave of software innovation that he says is about to “transform industry—and give the United States the chance for a lasting edge.”

Ludwig looks at the numbers and notes, “The industrial sector in the United States is rebounding. Manufacturers are boosting output, building new plants, increasing exports, and creating better-paying jobs that require precise skills—and in the process are helping lead the U.S. out of the long, stubborn slump that followed the market disruptions of 2007. A growing number of political and business leaders, economists, and commentators are taking notice, and talking about a domestic ‘manufacturing renaissance’.”

Ludwig is convinced of the importance of software leading the way. Following are his “Software’s Impact on the Five Steps of Product Development and Production.”

  • Product design: Increasingly powerful visualization and simulation software is enabling manufacturers to speed and improve product design, testing, and optimization.
  • Production planning: Automation design technology makes it possible to digitally design entire factories or individual pieces of equipment, and then simulate and optimize against a range of production scenarios for cost, speed, productivity, utilization, energy usage, and quality.
  • Engineering: Modern production may have hundreds of interrelated automation components. New software makes it possible for engineers to program and coordinate all automation tasks from a single portal, optimizing workflows and improving productivity.
  • Execution: Manufacturing execution systems monitor production performance in real time, enabling short-term control of manufacturing output and long-term optimization of production-unit configuration.
  • Service: Mobile devices, powerful networking, and “big data” analytics are enabling technology-based services opportunities such as remote monitoring and advanced predictive failure analysis that will reduce costs and improve utilization and productivity.
  • On the crucial importance of manufacturing to the overall economy, Ludwig says, “Beyond job creation, manufacturing plays a vital role in promoting innovation and long-term competitiveness. Every dollar generated by manufacturing supports US$1.48 of additional economic activity, according to the Manufacturing Institute, compared with $0.54 for retailing. And although manufacturing accounts for 12 percent of U.S. GDP, it provides nearly 70 percent of private-sector R&D and 90 percent of patents issued.”

    And finally, he says, “To make the most of the manufacturing renaissance, however, the U.S. will also have to compete as a manufacturing location for high-value-added products designed for export. It is for this reason that the advantages the U.S. offers—as a base for the advanced, virtual-to-real manufacturing that is transforming the global industrial landscape—will become increasingly important. To understand why this transformation is so profound, it helps to look at how today’s advances fit within the historical context of manufacturing technology.”

    In all the time since Siemens seriously entered the US market with the acquisition of the Texas Instruments PLC business in Johnson City, TN, quite frankly it has floundered. Market share dropped immediately, but then stablilized.

    However, the leadership of Ludwig (and Raj Batra who heads the automation business and several others) has energized the company and made it much more competitive. Interesting times in the automation market in the US for sure.

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