Volkmar Doericht, head of R&D for Digitalization and Automation at Siemens (Germany), believes that any geographic disadvantage will be erased for Australian manufacturing though advancements in technology. He says we must focus on using what we have to create our own future — and graphene can be the catalyst for such change.
For nearly a decade you have been focused on building systems to develop future technologies. Are there areas Australian can focus on to complete globally in future tech?
Australia should focus on its core skills. Australia, for instance, has a lot of sun, many very interesting raw materials, and last but not least is blessed with kind people. I see great potential for Australia in the supply of graphene as a raw material based on renewable energies for global value chains.
Connectivity and the IoT will change how people interact in the world. How is Siemens harnessing these emerging systems in the development of products?
Siemens builds and develops new products and solutions around the Siemens MindSphere. MindSphere is a cloud-based, open IoT operating system that connects products, plants, systems, and machines, enabling the harnessing the wealth of data generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) — with advanced analytics. MindSphere’s open PaaS capabilities enable a rich partner ecosystem to develop and deliver industry applications. Siemens provides business-focused solutions to help drive closed-loop innovation through digital twins for products, production, and performance.
Australia has been criticised for giving up on manufacturing. Will the future of this sector offer areas for Australia to capitalise, given its geographic location or natural resources?
Personally, I am convinced that digitalisation will shift the focus in manufacturing from the implementation of innovations to the actual idea of the innovation. This trend is basically made possible by new production methods such as 3D printing. If Australia succeeds in combining the knowledge about future raw materials in manufacturing with the creativity of its people, Australia could achieve top positions in the manufacturing value creation steps like product design, production planning, and production engineering. In future, only digital twins will be exported as products. Australia is thus shedding the weakness of its unfavourable geographical position in world trade — long distances for high-quality goods means high capital costs due to long transport routes.
How do you view new product developments using graphene having the most impact on the Siemens business?
In my view graphene basically offers companies three fields for future business.
1) Production of graphene as raw material
2) Design and processing of graphene
3) Use of the outstanding properties of graphene in new products.
Siemens can make all areas possible and benefit from its developments.
What will people who attend this conference gain from hearing you?
When it will be relevant for them, and what does it mean for my business?
What are three things that anyone involved in manufacturing should be doing right now to position for the future?
1) Proactive understanding that big changes will continue to happen
2) Not being satisfied with the status quo
3) Moving out of the comfort zone.
How important is graphene going to be in the next 5 to 10 years?
One of the biggest challenges will be to reach series production within the next five years. The focus must be on material consistency and production costs. Over the next 10 years, any aspect of our environment could be affected by graphene.
Volkmar Doericht is travelling to Australia to participate in the Graphene+2018 conference in Hawthorn on October 8. For further information and to purchase tickets, click here.