Siemens, Washington, D.C., demonstrated its approach to taking the Fourth Industrial Revolution from concept to reality at its annual U.S. Innovation Day, which took place at the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) in Chicago. The event showcased real-world applications of digital solutions that enable customers to reduce costs, increase speed, develop new business models and improve the quality of life.

Siemens teamed up with Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash., to integrate alternative energy sources for cleaner and more efficient data center operations, helping establish what is said to be the world’s first zero-carbon, waste-to-power data center in Cheyenne, Wyo. Siemens also teaming up with Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) to help build and test software that will allow the utility to manage clusters of microgrids simultaneously.

Siemens also provided a breakthrough solution for autonomous driving that minimizes the need for extensive physical prototyping while dramatically reducing the number of logged test miles necessary to demonstrate the safety of these vehicles.

“With the arrival of the Internet of Things in industry and infrastructure, many organizations are still trying to understand how to incorporate digital strategies into their business models,” says Roland Busch, chief technology officer and member of the managing board of Siemens AG. “Siemens has reinvented itself into one of the world’s Top 10 software companies, and is continuing to expand its digital capabilities. With our MindSphere Application Centers, we’re combining deep expertise in automation and electrification with our unique industrial software offering to enable our customers to leverage digital solutions for their specific needs.”

Siemens is also expanding its investments in U.S.-based digital capabilities to co-create intelligent solutions with customers, and is dubbed the first company worldwide to create 20 centers for digital customer applications in the industrial sector. Each of the MindSphere Application Centers serves multiple locations in different countries and specializes in a particular industry where Siemens is active. About 900 software developers, data specialists and engineers work with Siemens to develop digital innovations for data analysis and machine learning. These new solutions are being developed on MindSphere, Siemens’ open, cloud-based operating system for the Internet of Things (IoT).

In order to get closer to its customers, Siemens distributed its 20 centers across around 50 locations in 17 countries worldwide. Eight of these digital service hubs are located in the United States (Austin, Texas; Foster City, Calif.; Atlanta, Ga.; Alpharetta, Ga.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Berkeley, Calif.; and Orlando, Fla.), and constitute the largest footprint for these centers outside of Germany.

The company also increased its U.S. R&D investment by $175 million year over year to $1.3 billion in fiscal 2017 – a 16% increase – with a strong focus on digital innovation. In Chicago, for example, Siemens is investing $13 million annually in a new digital R&D hub focused on cloud and IoT applications to support the building management and automation market. Also on a global level, Siemens will again increase its global R&D expenditures in fiscal 2018 and is investing an additional sum of about $600 million. As a result, R&D spending will increase from nearly $6.3 billion in fiscal 2017 to $6.9 billion in fiscal 2018.  

“From digital twins and digital services to the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, Siemens is innovating next-generation digital technologies to help cities and companies across the country realize measurable value from data,” says Lisa Davis, chief executive officer of Siemens USA. “To further this customer value proposition and prepare our company for the future, we’re investing in the next-generation workforce, which is paramount to our future success.”