The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode 127 · 3 weeks ago

The Great Equalizer: How Digitalization is Changing Manufacturing

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In its earliest stages, most technological innovations are reserved for those with the most capital. In manufacturing, when you add the scalability of digital products to this, you end up with what our guest calls “the great equalizer.” 

Raj Batra is the President of digital industries for Siemens USA, where he oversees all development, engagement, marketing, sales, r&d, vertical industry, and manufacturing activity for the automation business. With over 25 years of experience, Raj is a thought leader in smart manufacturing, digitalization, and industry 4.0. In this episode, Raj talks about digitalization in manufacturing.   

Join us as we discuss:

  • The most potent movements happening in digitalization right now
  • How the scalability factor of digitalization changes the outlook for smaller and mid-sized manufacturers
  • What is happening with additive manufacturing now, and how it can change things in the future
  • How digitalization and automation fit into the picture for manufacturing

The big winners in this are the small and midsized enterprises that in essence don't have a tremendous amount of capital. But you know, we'll take that same two billion euros of money that we spend on research and development and they can use the same technology. They just get a scale down version. Welcome to the Manufacturing Executive Podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving mid size manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B two B sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive Podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and the co founder of the industry marketing agency Guerilla seventy six, where we help B two B manufacturers grow through revenue focused marketing programs. So many technological innovations in our world are largely reserved in their earliest days for those with the capital and the infrastructure to pave the way. These innovators invest in R and D. They build hardware or software, they test it, they deploy it, and they refine it. And eventually, as those technologies are adopted by more companies, costs come down and they become more accessible to the masses. Here in the manufacturing sector, when you layer the scalability of digital products on top of all this, you wind up with what my guests today refers to as the Great Equalizer, where the playing field is leveled from enterprise organizations all the way down to small and midsized manufacturers. I did my best to set up this conversation, but let me introduce our guest who will tell this story a lot better than I can. Raj Batcha is President of Digital Industries for Siemens USA, where...

...he oversees all development, engagement, marketing, sales, R and D, vertical industry and manufacturing activity for the automation business. Raj is an accomplished sales leader, business developer, and general manager, holding a range of senior positions since joining Siemens. He's currently a member of the board of Directors for the Siemens Foundation, dedicated to advancing workforce development and STEM education initiatives, an executive sponsor of Siemens USA Asian Cultural Exchange. Prior to his tenure at Siemens, Raj managed technical sales and automation solutions for discrete manufacturing and process industries. Raj is an active leader in the US manufacturing community. He's currently Vice chairman of the Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees for Manufacturers Alliance, and previously served as chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Electric Electrical Manufacturers Associated shan NEMA. He is a sought after board member and is currently serving as an independent director for two public companies. Roger earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Lawrence Technical Technological University in Michigan and a Master's of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan. Roger, Welcome to the show. Thank you, Joe, good to be here. Beautiful. Well, Siemens is obviously a household name, and Raj, you head up the Digital Industries division. Can you tell us what digital industries is all about? What you're doing there? Yeah? Sure, Well, well you know, let me let me just preface this, Joe and say that it wasn't always a household name, you know when you think about the United States, Because when I started my career in ninety three. A big part of what we were doing was trying to Americanize the brand. So of course we were always known as a great German company, great technology leader, and you know, people manufacturing companies would get technology and equipment in their US facilities and it was fun, you know, incredible technology, incredible equipment, but we didn't have a very strong position...

...and mass. So so a big part of what we've done is really substantially grown our presidence, our brand, and our franchise value here in the United States especially, and entered into every vertical industry here and we're providing cutting edge technology to every scale of manufacturing company. So just to your question about digital industries, the name literally speaks to what it does, right. It's the digitalization of of of manufacturing, and it's to really bring companies of all scale and sizes into the world of digitalization. And that may not have been a household digitalization may not have been a household name ten or fifteen years ago. So of course things started with simulation in product design and product data management and more advanced automation, you know, where you're doing more on the industry automation front. So it's this integration now of design to manufacturing and capability. So integrating what we would say is the I T and OT environments, and this is where you you unleash a lot of capability for manufacturers and time to market and reduced engineering time and flexibility and making things much more efficiently. So this is the world of digitalization and and and this is what we want to do. But but if you think of digital industries, that really you know, comprises a number of different businesses that can run independently, but the integrated whole is also extremely powerful when it's put together to bring this I T O T environment together. So you know, you have companies that just do factory automation, you have companies that do process automation. We have a business and precision motion control. We have a digital services business and also a software business, and they all are incredibly successful in what they do independently. But integrating the full capability and and really unleashes the full digitalization industry for auto capability of what companies so desperately wanted to do today. Great over view, digitalization can mean...

...a lot of things. I think to a lot of people. Can you speak to some of the most powerful movements happening in that category right now that have you excited about sort of the future of manufacturing. Yeah, you know, I mean the way I would think about it is probably the greatest singular advantage when you think about digitalization is the ability to do things virtually before you do things physically, right and and so just you know, think of our history of manufacturing this country. You know, we have to go you know, you know, we were on the floor running off equipment, uh, really doing very complex automation work on the floor, a lot a lot of trial and error, you know, in those processes. And I think today what you're able to do is really, you know, before even a person steps foot on the floor, you can have a digital twin. You can simulate, you can virtualize, you can see what's going to happen before you physically have to do things. And that's a big, big game changer for companies that use it. And when you think about digital twins, those digital wins has become very real, they become very high fidelity, they become very close to what what is reality. They incorporate not just the physics of an object, but also the photo realism of an object, and also artificial intelligence, So it moves in a simulation just like it moved on the floor. It acts and behaves, you know, and it's physics simulation just like you would behave on the floor. So you were able to do a lot of this offline and not you know, and and perfect things and really get it right before you before you start to physically put things together. And I think that virtualization and simulation is just one of the great advantages of what digitalization brings companies today. Raj, I've heard you call digitalization the great equalizer. How does the scalability factor that comes along with digitalization change the outlook for some smaller midsize manufacturers. Well, you know, look, I mean I think there...

...was probably an era where where you know, you couldn't use tools and capabilities unless you had enough money and capital to deploy at those things, right and and so when I say the great equalizer to me, it really speaks the scalability of every company being able to use it. So I I always say, the real the big winners in this are the small and midsized enterprises that in essence don't have a tremendous amount of capital. But you know, we'll take that same two billion euros of money that we spend on research and development, and they can use the same technology. They just get a scale down version, or maybe they use a an automation system that isn't as you know, doesn't need to do all the same things that a bigger automation system does. But in essence, all the software is the same, all the innovation is the same. And and so this is and and of course when you're in the SaaS models and you're you're you know, you're using what you need and paint for what you need. They they they're getting access the same technology. And I've seen car washes, quite frankly, that have been far more sophisticated using industry for at oh where where the car wash has been simulated. They've used artificial intelligence, they've used machine learning, they use the digital twin, and they perfected how this car wash runs before they built it. And and now they can clone them and build you know, thousands of them, and and and and some of those are far more sophisticated than sometimes getting into the large enterprises where you know, you've got very very strong bureaucracies between the I T organization and the manufacturing organizations, and there's legacy there, and you've got to sort of break down that divide culturally in companies, which isn't always easy. So sometimes the smaller companies more agile, they can operate more quickly. And now today technology is available to them, you know, and that that same technology that we would sell to any big fortune five company, the small guy can use to and and and get the same benefits out of it. And I think that, to me is is the great equalizer for small and midsized enterprises want to capitalize on this. Raje, I know, kind...

...of shifting gears here. One of your passions is additive manufacturing. Can you speak about what you see going on in that space right now and how you think it may change the game and the years ahead. Yeah, so look, I mean I think additive is a great representation of industry for DOTO and digital manufacturing. And so people may not have thought about it that way and they said, well, you know, we can't make mass production parts of that. If we can only do prototype work, we can you know, build complex structures that you know that you couldn't you know, classically assemble in in manufacturing. And I think today if you think about additive manufacturing. What is it? It starts with the digital model of an object, and you're able to print this object anywhere where we have a printer, and and and you know, depending on So now the i P is not the printer. The printer can go anywhere. So the printer can go and zimbolb way, it can go in the United States, it could go anywhere where. You could house that printer, you can power it up, and you have you know, the materials and the binders for it. But but you know, the i P almost becomes the design and the innovation and the cab model that it's that it's printing. So once you perfect that, any printer that has the capability and can produce with the kind of mature that you want to produce it with is capable of producing it and and and and and building it. So I think number one it is, you know, allowed people to print parts anywhere. So let's just start with that. You don't need to have a big manufacturing facility to do it. Some people have borne a lot of businesses out of it. You know, some of the smaller midsized companies. The larger companies are doing probably a little more prototyping with it and building advanced geometries that that that they're not able to build you know, classically manufactured, or it's very expensive where it's very time consuming, or they couldn't get the efficiency out of things right. So the other great thing with simulation in additive is you can look at, you know, the thermodynamics of a part, you can look at wind flow of apart, you can look at you know, all these physics characteristics how material is going to float through apart, and...

...you can design the part for for for the optimal design. And and you have to trust me when I tell you this, Joe, that sometimes I've seen a part that has been just very classically produced. It's probably been you know, designing a cab model and and someone said, hey, this is the way the part's gotta look. And then you put it through simulation to say what is the most efficient way to make this part to the cooling is really good and the air flow is good at that part, if it's a if it's a part that cools things, and what you end up with is nothing you couldn't even imagine on the whiteboard. I mean, a human wouldn't want to put this together. Because it looks all contornat, it looks funny, it's not the bigger, it's lighter, and but it's much more efficient, you know, it's it's air flows better. It's so but the simulation has done that, artificial intelligence has done that, the physical characteristics have done that. So you're making things potentially much more efficient. You're making it one you know, in a one piece structure, you have lattice capabilities that can produce things that you know, you can never produce conventionally manufactured. It would be very very complex. So so I think there are a lot of gains with what's being done an additive you know, the material selection is getting wider, the geometries are that people are able to produce for getting far more you know, far far better less post processing capability. So that means when a part's done and it's additively designed, you don't mean you know all this, you know, additional machine mary and technology to to you know, to trim it and to to grind it and divert and all the rest. You know, you're able to just take the part as is and and it's ready for prime time. And that's that's what more innovation. That in that additive capabilities driving. So so I think it's going to be a tremendous game changer as it scales up, as it becomes more mainstream, as people become more comfortable with those printers. I mean, I'm sure when we you know, before we used all the printers in our house, there was probably some hesitation to use them. And then you know, some point it just took off like...

...wilfire, and the printer costs came down, you know, the the ink never dropped in price, by the way. So so I guess they gotta they gotta find some way to make some money, and probably not not dissimilar to what additive is because the binder technology, the binder and the material is is where a lot of additive companies make their money, not on the printer itself, so you know, and and that's a renewable model. That's sort of an A R R kind of the model. So I think that it's becoming, you know, a game changer in producing complex parts and moving far beyond prototyping, moving to the to the point where the scale is picking up, the volumes increasing, the material composition is getting wider of help of of what materials companies use and and it's being conventionally integrated in classic manufacturing technologies. So you see this hybrids or not just additive in a corner now with two or three additive machines in a manufacturing facility, but you see it actually integrated into the framework of the broad manufacturing process. And and and so think about this this one more point that if you're doing a digital twin of your manufacturing line and of your product and of your plant, that digital twin is also tied to additive as well, so it works in the same backbone. So you can move things around very very conveniently when you're digitizing, and additive just becomes another part of that process. Yeah, a lot of great stuff in there. I'm also very fascinated by, you know, the possibilities with additive. One really interesting sort of analogy I heard a while back was that it's almost we've almost created a new form of transportation for shipping parts, where you know, you once had shipping by sea, and then by land, and then by air, and now all of a sudden you have, you know, digital files that can literally be transported in less than a second right to where they need to go. And and actually be produced, which is such...

...it's just such an interesting mindset shift. Yeah, yeah, you know, and I would say this, Look, I mean to the point you're bringing up about more state side manufacturing, more vertical integration and supply chains. I mean, listen, you know, COVID taught us some hard lessons and started with PPE and not being able to get at that, and then and then it moved on to chips, and then it moved on to broader materials and polymers and everything else that are used, and and so it just, you know, it just really never went away, and it's still a big plague in our system today, you know, and companies are racing very quickly to reduce this foreign dependence on critical parts and technologies that you know they need to produce cars or vehicles, or or electronics or chips or automation systems, you know, whatever the case is. And so that all requires local technology, local capability, and additives. Just think about what added it brings to that. So you know, if you have a good geometric model, you're a good cat file, and you have the right you know I P around your product in your design, you can produce that design anywhere anywhere in the world and companies are going to capitalize on that. So it's just another big tailwind for what what will happen to the additive business. Yeah, that's a great point. Okay, let's take a quick break here. I want to let a couple of our strategists at Guerrilla seventy six tell you about something pretty cool that we're doing right now for marketing folks in the manufacturing sector. Peyton and Mary take it away. Yes, So, I'm Peyton Warrant and I'm Mary Kio. Twice a month we host a live event called Industrial Marketing Live. Right now, we have a group of fifty plus industrial marketers from a variety of manufacturing organizations. We meet up digitally to learn, ask questions, network and get smarter. Every session has a designated topic, and one of our team members at Guerrilla seventy six opens up by teaching for the first half hour or so. Topics have included how to get better out of manufactur ring webinar,...

...getting started with paid social on LinkedIn, how to optimize your website for conversions, creating amazing video content, and so much more. After we break it down, we open it up to Q and A so we can help you apply all of this in your own businesses. This is pure value, no cost, no strings attached, no product or service pitches, just so unadulterated learning experience. Oh and on top of these live sessions, we've also opened up a Slack channel where our attendees bounce ideas off each other and learned together all week long between sessions. We're building a true community of manufacturing marketing professionals here. So if you or someone at your company has the word marketing in his or her job title, please consider telling them about it. They can visit industrial Marketing live dot com to register. We love to see you there on that topic of state side manufacturer reshoring, and we hear a lot about this these days. But then side by side with that, we have this labor issue going on that it seems to be touching just about everybody. How do you see those things fitting together for trying to bring jobs back, but we're also facing a labor shortage, you know, And and in your world, how does digitalization, movements and automation fit into the picture. Yeah so so, Look, I mean, we we absolutely to move forward with modernizing US manufacturing, embracing digitalization. It's a journey and not everybody starts at the same point. And people asking what's the biggest mistake you make, and I say, well, the biggest btake you make in this is not starting. Whether that's you know, advancing more automation, that's that's connecting devices on the floor, that's having good digital models of your assets on the manufacturing floor. So if you want to adjust things, if you want to you know, change layouts, change the product configuration, you can do that and and not not have it be so complex that that you can't get the gains out of it. Right, So and just thinking about that for all, for all that we talked about, you know, every dollar spent in manufacturing adds...

...about three dollars to the U. S economy. So so there's no entity that has that kind of multiplication effect, that kind of multiplier effect in our economics sector outside of manufacturing. So it just shows you how vital it is to job creation, how vital it is to you know, the impact it adds into gross domestic products. And then you know, if you look at restoring, you know, we talked about more things state side, more manufacturing, local being in proximity to your markets because you have mass customization going on in the markets. You know, I mean, I mean our market doesn't buy the same way that potentially China buys. So the Chinese consumers not an American consumer. So you know, when you're dealing with that customization, dealing with the personalization, you know, you've got to be close and and manufacturer needs to be in close proximity to the markets you're going to serve. And I think this is going to be the neutral It's the safest way to go, right. But you know, because your size side step, tariffsy side step, you know, the geopolitical complex cities out there, which by the way, A're not getting better, they're getting worse. You know, we've never had a more caustic geopolitical environment that we have now. You know that the teriffs are alive and well, the tension with China is tremendous at the moment here we got a war in the year two. You know, if you could in Europe of all places, which is driving different supply chain considerations, so so that realy shoring has to happen. It's very vital, and it's vital for the United States beyond just the economic impact. But but listen, I mean, you know, no matter which way you go out of your house, which direction you go out of your house, if you walk you know, one or two miles in any direction, you're gonna find some manufacturing plant. Most of these are small midsized enterprises. That's what comprises yes manufacturing here. And you know, look, there's an aging asset based on those manufacturing facilities. It's it's technology that's sometimes even older. Some people are using doss and and you know that has to be upped. It has to...

...be modernized. If you want to get into the digital game. You want to be competitive making a product, producing a high quality product here in the country, and then and having less for reliance on companies that have spent a lot of time, you know, exporting to the United States right for high value high technology goods. I'm not saying that everything has to be done here, but certainly with our workforce and our technology capability and our natural resources and are you know, prowess, you know, we're we're we're a country that shouldn't be producing high value, high technology goods here that that aren't easily produced anywhere else. And that's not just a labor topic, you know, it's a technology topics to digitalization topic. It's a little more advanced automation that becomes really really important. And I would just say relative to talent. Look, I mean, in the next decade, Joe, we're gonna have very wide range of people exiting the workforce. And I gotta tell you my job I see it today. I mean I saw a guy that was, you know, fifty, and you know, I mean that that's not a person you would expect to retire, and he just you know that he had enough and and that you know, he had reconsidered his life during it was it was a great performer, by the way, he was an excellent employee, you know, just really considered his priorities and figured out he had enough money, the kids were grown up, and he wanted to do things that were more important to him. And look, I get it, I understand it. But you'll have these dynamics that that are also accelerating the exit of people that are eligible for retirement. And so the next you know, five to seven to ten years is going to be very very critical as tribal knowledge leaves the workforce, because that's what it was. It was really deep tribal knowledge. And now you're going to bring a different worker in a different kind of worker, one that's more tech savvy, one that didn't know a world without an iPhone, didn't know a world about without the internet. So as much as we lose in tribal knowledge, maybe the way to think about it, the game and the pickup is you're gonna get more capability to do these advanced digitalization capabilities, to use more simulation, to do things that that are that are...

...very common to them in their consumer lives. And so companies are gonna have to build these environments and incubate these environments to track the right talent, you know, because pensions don't hold people down anymore. And and you know, it wasn't what it was thirty years ago where you had a pension and that kept you galvanize the company. Now now you know, you better be work you better be an employee of choice, You better, you know, have the right learning environment, the right digital culture, and you better have diversity in the mix somewhere because you're gonna be going after diverse workforce. So all those things have to come into play to hold onto your talent and to get new talent. And I think those are gonna be really really critical topics. And you know, people want to work for high tech companies and and that have a lot of curb appeals. So if you think about Apple and Google and you know, in Amazon, and people like those companies because they got that kind of curb appeal. So you know, for the small company, you can still do it. For the midsized company, you can still do it. Even for the big companies that are are there yet, you can still do it. But but but you've got to start, and it takes effort to make that happen. And and and I think that workforce is going to change, but it may not. You know, so what we lose again in travel knowledge, we pick up in you know, more text heavy people. But you have to have a workforce that's able to hold onto whom and preserve them and recruit them and retain them. You hit on a lot of really great points there. I've had a lot of conversations on this show with people who are advocates for you know, how do we how do we reach you know, young people, how do we reach women, how do we reach African Americans who are you know, could be a part of this workforce. But but aren't. How do we make sure that manufacturing organizations that are actually doing really interesting things from a technology standpoint are getting into schools and showing kids that, like, a job in manufacturing doesn't mean working in a dark factory operating heavy machinery that puts them at risk of their you know, their own safety. But instead we have people you know, programming robots and...

...like doing really interesting We talked a lot about additive manufacturing today, like what an amazing technology and how cool is that to to you know, fifteen year old kid who's thinking about starting to think about what, you know, what they're going to do after high school, for example. So I think that there's just, you know, we're in a place right now, there's such an opportunity to like shed positive light on what's ahead in manufacturing and change the perception not only for the young people that are entering the workforce, but also their parents who have a perception of what manufacturing was twenty years ago. So, I don't know, it's just exciting to have these conversations with with people like you who are again see the vision of of what's ahead here. You know, Joe, I always say that that the new wrench you know, the wrench and the grease of your fingernails is like a gaming processing unit. You know, it's like a GPU work where you know, that's that's the new version of the wrench because you're you know, you're using that so so extensively and graphics and simulation. And you see this generation come out there using a lot of animation and gaming right to do all this, and that same animation can be really applied in manufacturing world, but in this case, you're simulating environments, and so it's yeah, they're they're very sophisticated environments and the replete with some of the most advanced technology in the world. I mean, we haven't talked a lot about artificial intelligence and how that's going to play a very critical role in decision making and making better decisions. That we won't replace the human, but it's going to certainly augment the capability that that humans bring. And and you know, if used right, it'll it'll make things better, you know, And I think we see a lot of that in our consumer world. So it's amazing when you go search for something on Amazon or or you're an eque commerce, that same thing pops up in seven different variants you know that you were searching for. So so obviously the artificial intelligence learns, it understands what you're doing, and then it's you know, it's algorithms are triggered to project what it thinks you want and and so some of those same things could be applied to complex decision making on the manufacturing floor and on...

...the design and simulation environments. I love that perspective, Roger, is there anything I did not ask you about that you'd like to add to this conversation for our manufacturing leader audience. No, Joe, I think we covered it. let mean listen, We're at a very interesting time right now. There are a lot of federal programs that are that are really pushing more advanced manufacturing. The CHIP sacked, the Inflation Production Act, you know, more more acclimatization and sustainability movements. There's gonna be a lot of money injected in the economy. But again with the premise that uh that that local is good, manufacturing state side is good. And I think the companies that can really get educated and have a game plan around digitalization and more advanced automation and and doing this. The technology is readily available, it's there, it's scalable, and I think you're gonna find a lot of winners and losers in this. And the winners are going to be the people who just have a good game plan and that may not be size and scale a company, just could be the people that have the willpower and the desire and fortitude to take it forward. Well said, I agree. Can you tell our audience how they can get in touch with you and where they can learn more about Siemens Digital Industries? Yeah, so I think that they can. You know, certainly look at Semens dot com and look at digital industries on our site and and you're gonna see a whole host of activities there from vertical industries to the new Accelerator Digital business platform, which which is one of the great innovations and announcements and partnerships that we've driven now with video and the Omniverse portfolio they have. So that's marrying our capability of driving digital twins with physics simulation, and the video is just a world leaders all of you know, and and they were known for gaming processing units, but they're great in in simulation with photo realistic simulation and artificial intelligence, and that marriage together has become a very very powerful platform that we...

...call accelerators. So it's gonna be something that I think will revolutionize a lot of what industry, how how industry thinks when they think about digitalization of manufacturing, and and it's going to really start to define the industrial metaverse that we you know, if you haven't heard that term, but that's a term, the word that that's been used quite commonly. Beautiful Roger, thanks for doing this today. Okay, Joe, thanks a lot, It was fun. Thanks a lot. Take care of yourself absolutely. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of The Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to The Manufacturing Executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy. You'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides, and tools specifically for B two be manufacturers at Guerrilla seventy si dot com slash Learned. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time. M M.

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