SIEMENS OPCENTER: A reflection of our commitment to your digital transformation

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We are excited to announce the introduction of our new, harmonized manufacturing operations management (MOM) portfolio, ‘Siemens Opcenter.’

This launch is the result of our relentless effort to integrate and harmonize our MOM software portfolio, creating user-friendly and industry-centric solutions to support manufacturing excellence.

Siemens Opcenter includes MOM capabilities for advanced planning and scheduling, manufacturing execution, quality management, manufacturing intelligence and performance, and research, development and laboratory management. The Siemens Opcenter story is one of evolution, as it builds upon the heritage of products you know and value, including Camstar, SIMATIC IT, Preactor, R&D Suite and QMS Professional, leveraging on a lot of synergies between them.

The first new releases of solutions within the Siemens Opcenter MOM portfolio are the MES systems: Siemens Opcenter Execution. The system is available off the shelf with industry specific capabilities. The industry-oriented features of our MES solutions have benefited from the harmonization under Siemens Opcenter, which has certainly revealed potential for cross-portfolio benchmark feature adoption.

In the spirit of the overall Siemens Opcenter strategy for smarter manufacturing new features in these releases focus on smart devices, mobility, and integration capabilities to optimize data flows and availability. You will read about them here in a couple of weeks.

Not only MES, but every Siemens Opcenter element is enriched with the cutting-edge technologies that will help you digitalize and transform your manufacturing operations – regardless of your industry.

Siemens Opcenter enhances our MOM portfolio with five key areas of innovation:

  1. User interface: a harmonized user interface is implemented throughout the MOM software portfolio. It has the design language, icons, and behaviour that are common to all of the Digital Industries Software portfolios. This easy-to-use look and feel offers a comfortable and efficient user experience, with no distractions caused by switching systems.
  2. Mobility: Siemens MOM solutions are smart-device ready. The re-design of the UI/UX helps take things from the desktop to mobile devices. The interface is responsive and situationally adaptive, allowing for an omnichannel user experience: seamless and immersive access to manufacturing data, regardless of device (tablet, smartphone, …), for real-time visibility of performance indicators and production KPIs.
  3. Extensibility: Granular apps and a rich set of widgets provide codeless extensibility and faster time to value of your solution, with the modularity and scalability needed for a comfortable implementation.
  4. Cloud support: All MOM solutions are cloud-ready. Stay tuned for news on the developments of cloud-native apps and MOM powered by Mindsphere.
  5. Interoperability: a dedicated app for interoperability simplifies the interfaces across the MOM portfolio, reducing version dependence and helping avoid one-to-one connections and direct interfaces. It tightly integrates to MOM products for efficient data exchange with specialized messaging features and high availability for distributed manufacturing.

Siemens Opcenter is the next-generation manufacturing software at the heart of the Digital Enterprise Software Suite, the end-to-end set of solutions and services to integrate and digitalize the entire value chain.

How will Siemens Opcenter unlock the potential of your manufacturing enterprise? Find out here!

We will be happy to dialogue with you on our exciting transformation and how it will support your digital transformation journey.


( Siemens Dreamer )

Crossing the Chasm from ERP to APS

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Today we well know that, with few exceptions, ERP systems assume adequate resources are available when required, i.e. resources have infinite capacity. ERP systems have a BOM exploder and inventory control data that typically take orders for products, breaks them down into component parts and calculates when to start making them based on the individual lead times perhaps adding adjustments for queuing time etc. No account is taken of the real capacity of resources and whether the resources are overloaded or not the same lead-time is used to calculate the launch time.

Because of that, many production planners and/or schedulers develop their own solution based on spreadsheets to balance capacity and demand. Solutions based on spreadsheets help a lot, no doubt, but it is time consuming, susceptible to errors and rarely captures the tribal knowledge required to face daily challenges related to the need for re-planning and re-scheduling production due to demand changes, breakdowns, quality issues, material issues, absence of employees, etc.

Available for many years now, APS (Advanced Planning & Scheduling) systems are the solution adopted by companies to enhance ERP functionalities and at the same time, overcome the limits imposed by spreadsheets.

ERP suppliers are increasingly offering finite capacity capability to schedule works orders so that operations are only planned when resources are available. Consequently, materials can be ordered to arrive just in time based on when they are needed for the operation to be carried out. In this way it has been shown that inventory levels fall and bottleneck resources are not overloaded. Work in progress is minimized, lead times are more predictable and delivery dates more reliable.

To become successful, three important factors should be observed:

  • Integration of the scheduling system with other applications.
  • Ability to accurately model a plant’s operations (using finite capacity scheduling).
  • Frequent generation of new schedules.

Finite capacity is an integral part of any APS and thus for it to be successful then it must be integrated with other applications like ERP, must have powerful modeling capabilities and run fast enough to re-generate a schedule on a regular basis.

There are two types of APS products on the market. Your choice will have a significant impact on the money you pay and the time it takes you to implement. Some APS solutions subsume and partially replace functionality in your existing ERP system while other solutions enable your existing ERP system to acquire APS functionality.

With the first option, the ERP system has very much a subservient role to the APS with BOM structures, inventory control, aggregation rules, etc. being held within the APS as well as the finite capacity functionality. In effect, similar data is held in the APS as in the ERP system. The latter is left to deal with accountancy matters such as sending purchase orders, invoicing and accounts.

The problem is that data synchronization problems between the APS and ERP packages leads to very expensive and elongated implementation times and in addition the APS must have client-server functionality since it is replacing the client-server ERP system. In effect your company is paying hundreds of thousands for replacing what you already have.

Crossing the chasm from ERP to APS using this approach is often beyond the financial and technical capacity of your company to do properly and therefore the system ultimately ends up being abandoned.

The alternative is to use a solution that focuses on the real problem, scheduling, that can use the data supplied to it by the ERP to provide the answer to synchronizing materials supply with a proper finite model of the production environment. This alternative provides the bridge between ERP and APS.

It ‘enables’ rather than replaces ERP and your costs are significantly less to apply and install.

The ERP system retains the BOM structures, explosion, routings and inventory control while the APS deals with the problems associated with the allocation of materials between aggregated orders and uses this as part of the scheduling function so that the constraints include not only the machines, labor and tooling, but also the constraints associated with the availability of materials at raw, intermediate and finished stock levels.

The advantage of this approach is that you take full advantage of the ‘specialist’ knowledge and development focus of the point application providers, the APS vendor, but still use your existing ERP system.

The key to a successful application as we have already learned is to have an accurate model of the facility enabling accurate and achievable schedules that can be generated in a reasonable time and fully integrated with other systems. Synchronization of data is much less of a problem since all data comes from one source and communication between the APS and ERP can be done using the de-facto off-the-shelf tools such as ODBC, COM, DCOM, etc. that are available today.

So, when you are considering the ERP to APS chasm ask yourself the simple question:
Is it necessary for me to throw away my existing database and start again or can I find the right application that will fill the hole in the functionality I need?

Filling that hole may prevent you from falling down a much larger one when attempting to cross the ERP to APS chasm.

About the Author

Marco Antonio Baptista is the MOM Channel Leader in Americas at Siemens Digital Industries Software. Marco has 20 years’ experience in the Advanced Planning & Scheduling space.

The Leanest Lean You Have Ever Seen

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Lean manufacturing represents a cultural change at all levels of a company. Its prime objective is to eliminate waste, whatever form that takes. The most obvious examples in the production area might be excess materials in storage, work-in process, and finished product waiting for buyers, but it can also be unnecessary movement of staff and many other processes that do not ‘add value’ to finished items. The objective is to deliver orders on-time with minimum inventory with the shortest lead time and highest possible utilization of resources adding value.

Most lean initiatives start with a process called Business Process Re-engineering. This really is a formal way of analyzing how we produce things and identifying tasks or areas where no value-add takes place. The process then moves onto what is termed ‘lean thinking’. This is about looking at average production rates for each product (Takt Time), load leveling (Heijunka) and process redesign to attack the waste problem.

Process redesign will often use techniques such as Kanban to provide an easily understandable and visual method of controlling the movement of materials and controlled by demand order pull rather than what has been called MRP push. This type of production control is sometimes referred to as a Visual Production System or VPC.

Many consultants see VPC as central to lean initiatives but, in reality, it is just one step along the road to the ultimate lean environment which is Make (or Build) to Order or MTO. Why is this? The ultimate test of how lean you are is to ask the question – if you stopped accepting orders today and then waited until the factory stopped how much inventory would you have left? If it is none then you are truly in a MTO environment but if you relied on Kanban systems, only final assembly or dispatch are MTO. All upstream processes are Make to Stock. Kanbans are simply a better and more visual way of controlling inventory. It’s not the leanest of lean and, while demand is fairly stable they work very well, but they are less able to deal with variable demand.

To understand why we have reached this situation we must understand the past. Before MRP, Materials Requirements Planning, we had EBQ or Economic Batch Quantity. This used a minimum batch size in order to try and increase the value-add time (changeover time between batches being non-value-add) or purchase in quantities that provided lower costs per item from our suppliers (they liked big batches too!). MRP software was introduced to provide a way of synchronizing the manufacture and purchase of parts based on lead times for each based on aggregated dependent demand but still used EBQ that created inventory. VPC reduces this inventory so that the EBQ is one Kanban full. Even if a Kanban is one part, we are still in effect making to stock.

So how can we get better? APS represents the ultimate step to lean manufacturing. If you have MRP then get the system to make to order and turn off the make to stock features (if you can). This will generate a batch for each order you have and at each level of the Bill of Materials. The APS software can perform the dynamic aggregation of batches to minimize changeover times by sequencing these smaller batches in a way that they become the ‘big batch’ we want at critical process steps where resource throughput is a key element of productivity and efficiency. Often there is a trade-off between minimizing changeover time and delivery performance and a ‘what if’ tool to see the impact of dynamic aggregation is essential to making the right decisions.

The following APS rule implemented in a food processing company illustrates this well. It has been simplified to a single process line but in essence the company wanted to maximize resource utilization (which to them meant minimizing changeover time) but ensure all delivery dates were met.

The first ‘pass’ of the rule scheduled the orders onto the process line in a preferred sequence. In the illustration Packing Line 1 has had number of batches sequenced yellow – light blue – dark blue – orange. The letter on each batch is the Due Date, M being Monday, T for Tuesday and W for Wednesday.

In this case we have an orange order which will be completed on Tuesday which has a Due date on Monday. The rule identifies this situation and looks for a batch which has the greatest time between completion and due date. In this case the third yellow batch due for delivery on Wednesday is found.

The next pass of the rule removes the yellow Wednesday Order, shuffles up the others (referred to here as schedule repair) and puts the yellow order on the end of the schedule.

In this case process is repeated because we still have orange Monday order late so the yellow Tuesday order is reallocated in the sequence.

The sequence that minimizes changeovers while making all due dates has now been obtained.


Here then is a good example of how APS software has helped to sequence batches to minimize non-value add time, in this case changeover time, while making sure we deliver all the product on time to our customers.


In summary then, APS and Lean initiatives are complementary. Business Process Reengineering is used to identify issues to tackle, VPC in the form of Kanbans reduce inventory but do not eliminate it. APS provides a decision support tool to the planner to help eliminate non-value-added activities and get deliveries on time.


This brings into focus another issue. Kanbans or other forms of Visual Production Control delegates scheduling decisions to the shop floor whereas APS empowers the planner to make the scheduling decisions which are then passed onto the shop floor to execute. Is this a good idea?


If you use VPC, scheduling decisions are based on empty Kanbans. The emptying of a Kanban triggers the filling of it by operators. However, they are working in isolation. They have no other visibility of other processes, not late arriving orders, nor do they have knowledge of key performance indicators (KPIs) such as minimizing late deliveries, minimizing production costs and so on. Variations in demand will cause problems that the operator can not be aware of.


If an APS tool is used scheduling decisions such as changes in priorities for customers are based on company wide KPIs and the planner has the whole picture with which to make the tradeoffs that are bound to be required. Variations in demand are handled more easily and the shop floor has a single KPI – schedule adherence.


A good example of where complete elimination of work in progress and finished stock is in the food processing industry where freshness of raw materials and shelf life of finished product is a real concern. They are in the forefront of planner empowerment and many other sectors can learn from their experience. They have:

  • Short shelf life products
  • Short shelf life materials (including packaging)
  • Can have delivery lead times less than the manufacturing lead time
  • Have a highly variable demand (due to weather and promotional activities)
  • Are affected by severe hygiene requirements
  • Have alternative recipes
  • Have very demanding customers (particularly the large multiples where shorting is a big issue)
  • Have flexible but variable labor

In this industry VPC is almost unknown. The status of the planner is very high and in many companies APS has become a key decision support tool in making the company responsive, efficient and profitable. In these companies a single KPI, schedule adherence is all that is required at shop floor level and supervisors can focus on meeting this rather than dealing with a thousand and one other issues.

About the Author

Dave Snyder is a MOM Channel Sales Executive at Siemens Digital Industries Software. Dave has 30 years’ experience in the Advanced Scheduling space.

APS: A key element to digital transformation

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From strategic planning to detailed scheduling, Advanced Planning & Scheduling (APS) is essential for anticipating manufacturing resource needs; orchestrating efficient use of material, people, and machines; and delivering great customer service and higher profitability. Whether you are streamlining your current operations, or building the next stage of growth, clear visibility into utilization and capacity helps you make informed decisions and get ahead of the competition.

Preactor APS is used by numerous small, medium and large multinational companies located all over the world. For over 20 years, Preactor APS has served as a key step in moving towards operational excellence, integrating with MES, ERP, and Supply Chain to create highly efficient manufacturing operations.

Today, many manufacturing enterprises are starting with APS as they embark on their digitalization journey. ROI is achieved rapidly, providing a fertile environment for continuing on the path towards digital transformation.

Join our on-demand webinar to find out how APS can be transformational for your manufacturing enterprise, whether small, medium, or large, and across any industry.

Watch it Now!

We will describe the unique capabilities of Preactor APS and give real customer examples of how their implementation impacted their business:

  • Full visibility and control
  • Increased utilization and leaner operations
  • Faster response to change
  • Better customer service
  • Higher margin.

About the Author

( Siemens Theorist )

Key challenges faced in manufacturing industry

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Manufacturing is the backbone of any country and in India, manufacturing has emerged as one of the high growth industries. India is expected to become the fifth largest manufacturing country in the world by the end of year 2020.

In the words of Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, “India is becoming a manufacturing hub. Make in India today has become the hallmark of India.”

According to a recent quarterly survey by FICCI, 71% Indian manufacturers agreed that along with the improved growth for the last few years, the cost of production as percentage of sales has also drastically increased. This is primarily due to increased cost of raw materials, wages, power cost and rupee depreciation.

This continuous market competition requires manufacturers to find ways to optimize production operations by reducing or eliminating non-value-added activities.

With so many variability and competition, manufacturers are required to overcome innumerable challenges every day and every time on the production floor.

We, SNic Solutions are conducting a short survey to help understand the challenges manufacturers must fight and would really like to fix:


Since its inception, SNic Solutions has been focused on improving the quality of life and standards for people associated with the manufacturing industry. In the last 12 years, we have worked with more than 150 companies in India and globally in various sectors.

SNic Solutions

SNic Solutions is proud to have earned the prestigious Smart Expert Partner status from Siemens PLM Software

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Smart Partner India

SNic Solutions is proud to have earned the prestigious Smart Expert Partner status for India region from Siemens PLM Software with validated expertise in SIMATIC IT Preactor Advanced planning and scheduling solutions, starting point to Siemens Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) solutions for diverse manufacturing sectors like Automotive, Industrial Machinery & Heavy Equipment, Consumer Packaged Goods & Retail, Energy & Utilities.

Siemens SNic Logo

Digitalization is trending today and today’s customers demand their solution partners to go beyond generalist and traditional reseller models. With this distinguished recognized badge of expertise and authority from Siemens PLM, we hope to attain new levels of profitability and become more valuable and important resources for customers and Siemens PLM Software.

SNic Solutions

Is there a Doctor in the house?

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“If the patient dies, it is the doctor who has killed him, and if he gets well, it is the saints who have cured him “.

Dr. Acula had read this forwarded message for the umpteenth time – on Whatsapp, Facebook tags, tweets and a thank you greeting card from one of his patients. What frustrated him the most about this message was, it was also sent by a relative who had taken his consultation a week back and did not have the decency to pay him. Dwelling on how the day began, he got into his car amidst wishes from his driver and the security guard. They set off to the hospital which was a good hour and a half from his home: an ideal time to read the newspaper.
After going through a couple of pages of politics, corruption, crimes and celebrity endorsements, he finally reached the page which was dedicated to World Cancer Day.

Articles such as “Childhood cancer is a growing problem”, “More than half of new cancer patients in India are women”. “Tobacco ban can avert 40% cancer”: he thought to himself ‘Wish they would increase the no of hours in a day to 48 so that I can see more patients’!

Currently, he was seeing around 50 patients at OPD and another 15 in Chemotherapy, every day. Although the official appointment slots were only five minutes per patient, the consultation took a lot longer than that.
“Probably suggested by someone with an MBA or an Engineering degree. I don’t know what role they have in a healthcare environment other than civil and mechanical engineers.” thought Dr. Acula as they pulled into the parking lot of the hospital. “Oh yeah, Electrical engineers too” thought the doctor as he got into the lift with a flickering light.

As the doctor approached the OPD, he saw his assistant scurrying around some of the patients waiting to collect their files and instructing them to wait or calming them down by saying “Doctor had an emergency procedure- so he is late”. With a sense of dread looking at the number of patients already waiting- he proceeded towards his chamber. He saw with slight anger that the nameplate on the door still read “Dr. Richard Stiff- Orthopedic surgeon” and not “Dr. Acula Hematologist- Oncologist”. He signaled to the assistant and tapped on the nameplate and went inside. He put on his coat, washed his hand and took a seat to find the day’s patient list on the table. He browsed through the list:55 patients for the day:2 patients who he already met him yesterday, 10 troublesome patients and 1 patient who is nearing the end.

With a sigh what he remembered was the forwarded message he received in the morning.

After the end of a long day- asking patients to reorder the documents, asking them to perform particular tests (explaining it is necessary and he was not trying to rip them off), dealing with a couple of patients who were late to their appointment and picking fights with other patients, attending a seminar on how to improve the patient flow with the Administration head, the doctor started to pack feeling glad that he is not going to see any patients for the next 3 days as he was visiting a conference in Singapore. Feeling slightly guilty for feeling happy, he waved a goodbye to his assistants and left for the day.

Dr. Acula rushed to the airport the next day to find his flight delayed by an hour. The waiting area was already packed with waiting passengers. He found a seat next to a fat guy who was working on his laptop. He browsed through his phone and caught up with his messages and returned calls. Dr. Acula’s eyes then fell on his neighbor’s laptop and noticed that he was making a presentation. “Existing vs Proposed Productivity Improvement” read the slide heading and he had displayed a graph which showed how he had improved production with the same manpower. Feeling skeptic, the doctor started a conversation:

Dr. Acula: Sorry to intrude, can I ask you a question?

Fat Guy: Sure.

Dr. Acula: How is that you could increase the production with the same manpower?

Fat Guy: Productivity improvement.

Dr. Acula: And?

Fat Guy: Some more stuff for which I must go in depth so that you can understand.

Dr. Acula: (Indicating the display board which showed the delayed time) I have time!

Fat Guy: Okay, so work can be categorized into Value Added and Non-Value Added i.e. Work which customers pay for and work which the customer doesn’t pay for.

Dr. Acula: Aah!

Fat Guy: So, what we do is identify the Non-Value Added activities and find a way to eliminate it so that they can accommodate more work in the same time.

Dr. Acula: So, what did you do in this company that increased production by 75%?

Fat Guy: 100% to be precise. The operators in this company moved materials manually which added 20 minutes per part. We added a simple Gravity conveyor which cut short this time which in turn could be used for working on the next part.

Dr. Acula: That’s impressive! Travel time cut short plus less money spent on fuel or electricity.

Fat Guy: Exactly.

Dr. Acula: But this will work well in a set organization where everything is already well defined?

Fat Guy: Not necessarily. We have designed an entire plant from scratch and had given requirements of resources even before the factory started.

Dr. Acula: That can be calculated. What about service industries where things are not standard. Say for an example-a call center?

Fat Guy: We have simulated an entire call center where now the system is streamlined and have reduced the call waiting times by 15%.

At this point, the crew member had arrived and people immediately started to form a queue in front of the counter. He got up to join the queue when the Fat Guy spoke up.

Fat Guy: It will take another 35 minutes for the first person to enter the flight. Sir, so I suggest you take a seat rather than standing in the queue.

The doctor checked his watch and it read 9:00. So now the doctor was slightly irritated and sat down next to him.

Dr. Acula: What about doctors? I mean clinic, OPDs and hospitals? Have you worked with them?

Fat Guy: No.

Dr. Acula: How would you work there? You will not be able to set anything there- the entire thing is very subjective.

Fat Guy: Sir, like I said- any activities can be broken down into Value Added or Non-Value Added. All we have to do is identify the Non Value added ones and see the scope of reducing or eliminating it.

Dr. Acula: But whatever the Doctor does will always be Value Added. The patient might talk to him for 2 minutes or 20, how can you define this as a standard?

Fat Guy: But are those the only activities which the doctor does during a consultation?

Dr. Acula: Well, no. He goes through the documents, physical checkups, scans, reports, writes prescriptions.

Fat Guy: So I think I can classify that as Pre-Consultation, Consultation and Post Consultation activities?

Dr. Acula: That would be fair.

Fat Guy: And the consultation is the main part where the actual value is added to the entire patient visit.

Dr. Acula: Yes!

Fat Guy: So, if there was a way in which I can concentrate on Pre-Consultation and Post-Consultation activities, see if I can find a way to reduce those somehow so that the doctor gets more quality time with the patients, wouldn’t you say that is a productivity improvement?

Dr. Acula pondered over this. He had spent many of his times fuming on his assistants and patients whenever things were not in order and always thought of ways to change the system. Now after this conversation, the doctor was felt there are improvements possible everywhere.

The Fat Guy packed the laptop into his bag. Dr. Acula asked him “So, you are an engineer?”

The Fat guy replied, “An Industrial Engineer to be precise”. “What’s the difference?” asked the doctor.

“Engineers make things” said the Fat guy tapping his watch which read 9:35, “Industrial Engineers make things better,” he said pointing to the gate where the crew member started allowing the passengers on the plane.

The Guy is Girish R Kini, Senior Consultant at SNic. He recently presented a paper at Best of ASCO, Hyderabad on Industrial Engineering practices in Healthcare.