Siemens Unveils SIMATIC Workstation that Swaps Hardware for Software

Siemens worked with co-creator Ford to add AI to automation while blending IT and OT and integrating HMI.

Rob Spiegel

May 9, 2024

2 Min Read
Siemens SIMATIC Workstation
Gorodenkoff for iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

At a Glance

  • Solving the IT/OT conflict with software.
  • Creating a plantwide series of integrated workstations.
  • Siemens and Ford join forces to improve plant automation.

At Automate, Siemens announced a new workstation designed to manage numerous hardware control points throughout the factory. Siemens SIMATIC Automation Workstation was designed let manufacturers replace a hardware PLC, a conventional HMI, and an edge device with a single, software-based workstation. This ushers in Internet Technology (IT) workflows to Operational Technology (OT) environments.

The Siemens SIMATIC Workstation can be viewed and managed from a central point. Since programming, updates and patches can be deployed to the entire fleet in parallel, the shop floor remains in synch. An example of the value this brings occurs when a facility needs to ramp up or down quickly in response to fluctuating demand. The manufacturer is no longer tied to boxes on the floor and can quickly deploy programming adapted to the current demand scenario.


Ford Was Key to the Workstation’s Development

Del Costy, president and managing director of Siemens Digital Industries in the US told Design News about Ford’s role in the development of the workstation. “As a leader in industrial automation technology, Ford came to us with a vision and a challenge. Siemens, recognizing the benefits of system alignment between IT and OT, worked with Ford to co-create the SIMATIC Automation Workstation,” said Costy.

To create the workstation Siemens revamped both the hardware and the software. “Our engineers worked to combine our comprehensive hardware and software solutions to achieve this mutual goal of enhancing shopfloor visibility and increasing flexibility through a centralized management system,” said Costy. “This SIMATIC Automation Workstation symbolizes a downpayment on the digitalization of industry and the future of manufacturing.”

The Workstation Becomes a Platform for Further Development

The Siemens SIMATIC Workstation is an on-premises OT device that utilizes Siemens industrial edge technology to allow for high data throughput with the low latency needed to allow manufacturers to run an expanded variety of modular applications. This applies not only to traditional automation tasks like motion control, sequencing, and safety, but it becomes the platform for future, novel automation tasks that incorporate industrial AI-in-the-control-loop, such as visual inspection and robotic grasping and placing.

Costy explained how this translates into real-world benefits. “In times of volatility in demand and supply, manufacturers can no longer be tied to boxes on the floor that need to be individually — and manually — updated. Centralized management is the best option for increasing visibility and security for manufacturers managing a high number of automation control points,” said Costy. “This makes automation highly scalable and changes the game for how factories can be managed. We have arrived at a moment where we are only limited by our imaginations.”

The initial deployment of SIMATIC Workstations will be deployed across a number of Ford Motor Company’s manufacturing facilities.

Read more about:

Supplier News

About the Author(s)

Rob Spiegel

Rob Spiegel serves as a senior editor for Design News. He started with Design News in 2002 as a freelancer and hired on full-time in 2011. He covers automation, manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, AI, and more.

Prior to Design News, he worked as a senior editor for Electronic News and Ecommerce Business. He has contributed to a wide range of industrial technology publications, including Automation World, Supply Chain Management Review, and Logistics Management. He is the author of six books.

Before covering technology, Rob spent 10 years as publisher and owner of Chile Pepper Magazine, a national consumer food publication.

As well as writing for Design News, Rob also participates in IME shows, webinars, and ebooks.

Sign up for the Design News Daily newsletter.

You May Also Like