Glass manufacturer Steklarna Hrastnik is planning a series of investments over the next few years to convert its current its Hrastnik site into a smart factory by the year 2022. To develop a roadmap for investments and developments, the company sought out Siemens’ digital consultancy service for glassmakers.
Siemens Digitalization Consulting head Steeve Baudry explains, “Due to the nature of our Process Industry and the life-cycle of the assets, the digitalisation roadmap has to take into account the existing automation and IT systems.
“Specifically how to introduce new technologies in an existing environment, how to benefit from the latest technologies but without changing everything, in other words how to include the new technologies into the existing IoT landscape.
“We focus on a roadmap over the next five years. This gives an acceptable horizon for investment and satisfy the CFO community while keeping the digital road at a manageable complexity level because such a roadmap involves many projects that are technically interconnected.
“This includes cyber security and automation networks, or MES and Document Management systems for example.
“Keeping the roadmap within a three to five year horizon results in proposed traditional modernisation projects, while looking at a 10-year roadmap will be more a ‘picture of the future’ rather than a concrete roadmap.
“To guarantee that we deliver, concrete and actionable results, we follow the same approach.
“We investigate with customers what they want to achieve with digitalisation – do they want to achieve improved time to market, improved quality, increased energy efficiency?
“Then we investigate the existing systems that are in place. Do they have any ERP system, how is the automation layer developed, how is the automation network connected? What is its cybersecurity strategy? In other words, we try to reconciliate the top-down approach with the bottom up view from the field.
“Once we have a clear view on the strategy and the existing IT and OT landscape, we identify the most important projects that need to be implemented.
“We then calculate the investment for a specific plant, taking into account the existing assets and projects already in place, because a facility might already have some pieces of the solution under development or have plans to invest.
“We finally assess how we connect these new solutions to the plant and how much it costs.”
In this instance, the client, Steklarna Hrastnik, is a glass producer dedicated to glass packaging, glassware, and lighting, although they also produce handmade glass items as well as offer many other services. The Slovenia-based company is over 150 years old, but is guided by more modern and progressive leadership ideals. It is perhaps this forward thinking mindset that led the company to seek advice from Siemens
Turning to the topic of Steklarna Hrastnik General Manager Peter Câs, Baudry continued, “Mr. Câs knew he had to do something, he was aware of the benefits of digital but he wanted some support, some guidelines, a framework and expertise to proceed. Within a few weeks he had changed from digital sensitive to digitally ready.
“Our customers know they have to digitalise their supply chain and reduce their time to market, but how do they do that? They all have good ideas about digitalisation but they don’t know where to start.
“The value we provide is to translate these strategic visions into an implementable roadmap where we tell them, okay, here’s the main projects, the implementation timeline and the cost, and this in a vendor-neutral way.
“At the end of that consulting project, they have a concrete roadmap, with a concrete investment plan with which they can go directly on to the market and ask suppliers to give quotations for the projects with these specifications.
“This set up, combining methodology, with IT/OT and glass expertise, is unique and allow us to provide a concrete, tailor made and immediately implementable roadmap. We have seen a lot of interest from customers because of that set up.”
Projects such as these might last around four to six weeks, and of that time Siemens will typically spend three weeks on site with the customer.
They will lead workshops, interview staff, investigate the maturity of the systems and their interconnections, build a map of the process and of their IT and Operational Technology (OT) landscape.
Siemens Senior Manager for Glass Industry, Philippe Thiel, said, “You can’t do this from the office, this is done with the customer, in complete immersion in his organisation. You have to collect the information from the field before putting it into perspective.”
During previous workshops they noticed it was common for departments not to communicate with one another while working in the plant. The batch house operator did not talk with the furnace operator, for example.
“The Siemens workshops helped to address this. Sometimes during a workshop you would see people starting to discuss together and to discover they have the same issue.
“We have a team that can moderate the discussion and translate and we discovered staff have the same problems but are not talking the same language.
“Having us in the middle of the team, empowered by management, we first have to build credibility with the people because we come from outside.
“So we first check if we speak the same language and as soon as we have that then we can really moderate the discussion and bring them value.”
Both Baurdy and Thiel firmly believe that the service is worthwhile.
“If you have an expensive car you want to insure it, when a customer has an investment plan for digitalisation over five years and for several millions, it is better to have the insurance that they will go for the right projects, in the right order,” said Baudry. “What we deliver is the insurance that their money will be invested in the most efficient way over the next few years.”
Thiel concluded, “With this digitalisation consultancy offering, we give them the insurance that their investment will be maximised.”