12/4/2008 | 11 MINUTE READ

Field Guide: Siemens

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Siemens covers all the bases in industrial automation, energy, healthcare, building management and even home appliances.


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The Company

Siemens AG (Munich) is fundamentally a worldwide electronics and electrical engineering company. The company ostensibly operates in three market sectors: industry, energy, and healthcare. It's really in a lot more: industrial automation and control, lighting, heating and ventilation and other building systems, power distribution and transmission, consumer products, transportation, energy production, hearing aids, data management, and information technology (IT) infrastructure. The company provides consulting services in these areas, as well. Plus, it is involved in financing, leasing, insurance, and real estate.

Siemens was established at the very start of the commercial application of electricity. In 1847, Werner von Siemens took a cigar box and some copper wire to construct a device that pointed to letters instead of Morse code. This device helped in transmitting messages reliably over long distances. It also began the Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske (Siemens & Halske Telegraph Construction Company) on October 12 of that year. A year later, the company built the first long-distance telegraph line in Europe (310 miles; from Berlin to Frankfurt am Main). In 1866, von Siemens discovered the dynamo-electric principle, which economically converted mechanical energy into electrical energy. It also ushered in the field of electrical engineering. In 1874, Siemens began laying the first transatlantic cable (from Ireland to the U.S.). Five years later, Siemens exhibited the first electric railway with power supplied through the rails. This demo ran on a circular track just under 1,000 feet. Top speed: just under 13 mph. In 1896, Siemens completed the first underground railway in continental Europe (Budapest).

Then came the twentieth century and a rush of Siemens firsts and major projects: the first commercial metal filament lamp (the tantalum lamp; 1905), the first reversible electric drive (1906), Siemens' first radio (a three-stage tube set; 1923), Germany's first automatic traffic signal system (Berlin; 1924), the first portable and the first hand-held vacuum cleaners (1924 and 1925, respectively), a contract to electrify the then-Irish Free State (1925), and rotating X-ray anode tubes (1933). World War II destroyed 80% of the company's assets (buildings and manufacturing facilities). Siemens began rebuilding in 1945. Four years later, it moved its headquarters from Berlin to Munich. By the mid-1960s, Siemens had returned to its worldwide position. On October 1, 1966, the company merged its three operating units into one, creating Siemens AG.

Product developments continued in a variety of fields. The world's first cardiac pacemaker, developed by Siemens-Elema, was implanted in 1958. In 1959, Siemens introduced Simatic G-the first control module to use transistors instead of relays, contactors, and electron tubes. In 1965, Siemens introduced the first real-time ultrasound diagnostic device. Nine years later, it introduced the first computer tomography system for brain imaging. Siemens introduced a catalytic converter for diesel engines in 1995.

Siemens has had an extensive range of acquisitions of late, from Bonus Energy A/S, one of the world's leading wind power systems suppliers, to CAS innovations AG, a supplier of surgical navigation systems. Two relatively recent acquisitions capped Siemens Industry Automation Division's reputation as "the first" industrial equipment supplier to service discrete- and process-industry customers from collaborative product development (concept and design), to production (simulation, operation, and control), to collaborative product data management, to service. In August, 2008, it acquired innotec GmbH (Schwelm, Germany), a supplier of digital engineering software and services for the process industry. In April, 2007, it acquired UGS Corp. (Plano, TX), the supplier of product lifecycle management (PLM) software, used primarily in discrete manufacturing industries.

Today, Siemens has approximately 400,000 employees worldwide (about 126,000 are in Germany). It has around 32,500 people in R&D at various locations in 30 countries, though its main R&D centers are in Austria, China, Germany, India, and the U.S. The company has about 50,750 patents. In 2007 alone, Siemens registered 8,267 inventions-a seven-percent increase over the previous year. In published patent applications (2007), Siemens ranks second after Bosch in the German Patent and Trademark Office; third after Philips and Samsung in the European Patent Office; and eleventh in the US Patent & Trademark Office. Siemens has customers in nearly 190 countries. In fiscal 2007, the company had revenues of €72.4 billion and income from continuing operations of €3.9 billion. That year, R&D spending was 3.4 million.

Product Information

Siemens operates in six major business areas: automation and control, power, transportation, medical, IT and communications, and lighting. Organizationally, these and some relatively smaller markets are controlled by 15 divisions plus some other business units.

The Industry Sector addresses production, transportation and building systems. Industry Automation Div. provides automation, instrumentation, and energy technologies and systems for the discrete and process industries, mostly under the Simatic product line. The Simatic line consists of integrated components, such as programmable controllers (PLC), industrial PCs, distributed I/O, programming devices, software, sensors (including machine vision, proximity and color sensing, and 1D/2D/3D code reading), and devices for industrial communications. Simatic software includes Simatic WinCC, a modular SCADA system for single- to multi-user systems that can also act as an information hub for IT and business integration; and Simatic IT, a modular manufacturing execution system. For process industries, the Sitrans product line includes instrumentation to measure level, flow, pressure, weight, temperature, and gas; provide process protection; and record process operations. Siemens Electronics Assembly Systems Business Unit provides surface mount technology systems, including collect-and-place units, automatic inspection systems, and associated software.

Siemens PLM Software provides software for new product development, digital design, digital manufacturing, data translation, and product data management. The business unit's software packages include NX (CAD/CAM/CAE) and Solid Edge (CAD), Tecnomatix (digital manufacturing), Teamcenter (PLM), and the Velocity Series (a family of preconfigured software products for design, analysis, and data management), plus components such as Parasolid (modeling kernel), Geolus Search (3D shape search engine), JT (visualization format), and D-Cubed (CAD/CAM/CAE functions licensed to independent software vendors). Siemens PLM Software reported 2006 year-end revenue of U.S. $1.2-billion.

The Drive Technologies Div. provides motion control and drive systems (motors, converters, and numerical control systems), and low-voltage controllers and installation systems. Siemens' 80 years in the couplings market has yielded a spectrum of couplings-torsionally rigid, flexible, and hydrodynamic-with torque ranges from 10 to 10,000,000 Nm. Its Motox geared motors-helical, offset shaft, helical bevel, helical worm, and worm geared motors-have a range of power ratings from 0.09 to 200 kW, and rated gear unit torques up to 20,000 Nm.

The Simotion product line combines motion control and PLC technology, with IEC 61131-3 compatibility. Simotion comes drive-based, where the functionality is integrated in the machine's control unit; controller-based and modular; and panel PC-based (Microsoft Windows XP Professional is the operating system with a real-time expansion). The Sinumerik product line for CNC automation consists of control units for applications ranging from simple stepper-motor to complex, 31-axes distributed control operations. There are also a variety of operator panels, machine control panels, handheld units, keyboards, and software (human-machine interface, program and tool management, maintenance management, remote diagnosis, etc.).

The Building Technologies Div. provides building security, fire safety, automation, heating and ventilation, and operational management systems to home, commercial, and industrial properties and public places.

Osram produces general lighting products, optoelectronic semiconductor lights (such as light-emitting diodes), automotive lighting, and light management systems. These products are used for home, commercial, and industrial sites. Osram makes more than 400 lamp types for cars, trucks, and motorcycles. For instance, Cool Blue headlamps project a bright bluish white light (up to 4000 Kelvin, similar to Xenon lamps), while Night Breaker lamps project up to 90% more light on the street than standard lamps.

The Mobility Div. works on transportation systems that move people and goods. These include systems for signaling and control, rail and road traffic, airport logistics, postal automation, and rail electrification, as well as rail vehicles for mass transit, regional, and long-distance transportation. The systems for cargo and postal logistics include sorting machines, reading and coding, and software for such operations as dock and yard management, and statistical analysis for quality management.

Industry Solutions offers systems integration services for process and energy plant operations, covering everything from plant planning and construction, to plant operation and maintenance.

The Energy Sector provides products and systems for generating, transmitting, and distributing electrical energy. This includes manufacturing power-generating components, instrumentation, and control systems; manufacturing fuel cell and wind turbines; building power plants (conventional and renewable energy); and through its Energy Service Div., providing services from retrofitting to management consulting to maintenance and operations management. Through a 34-percent stake in the French firm Areva NP, the division also designs and constructs nuclear power plants and research reactors. Siemens Environmental Systems & Services provides air pollution control systems. The Fossil Power Generation Div. focuses on power generation based on fossil fuels, providing everything from instrumentation and control systems, to individual gas and steam turbines and generators, to turnkey power plants. The Oil & Gas Div. provides systems for power generation and distribution, compressors with electrical and mechanical drives, process and automation technologies, water management, and IT management and control. The division supports the entire lifecycle of oil and gas processing.

The Power Transmission Div. provides systems for high-voltage applications, such as direct current transmission systems, substations, arresters, switchgear, transformers, and automated power supply networks. The Power Distribution Div. provides basically the same for medium-voltage applications. This division also provides remote control (telecontrol) systems for centralized monitoring and control of supply systems for electricity, water, gas, and district heating, as well as for industrial and private sewage disposal systems.

The Renewable Energy Div. provides wind power (on- and offshore wind farms), biomass power plants, solar thermal power plants, geothermal power plants, photovoltaic inverters, and hydro-electric plants. Siemens solid-oxide fuel cells generate electricity through an electrochemical reaction that consumes no external water during normal operations. The wind turbine systems include turbine blades made of fiberglass-reinforced epoxy resin, nacelles, Web-based SCADA systems, and power conversion and regulation equipment. Siemens also has low-carbon power generation technology that uses gasification to transform coal and other fuels into a synthetic gas (syngas) for generating power.

The Healthcare Sector provides diagnostic and therapeutic devices, systems, and consumables for the healthcare industry, as well as IT systems for clinics and administration, and consulting services. These products cover the medical needs from screening and early detection, to diagnosis, therapy, and aftercare in women's health (specifically breast care), coronary artery and cardiovascular diseases, neurology, infectious diseases, and drug abuse. Siemens offers various imaging technologies (full-field digital mammography, digital tomosynthesis, magnetic resonance, positron emission tomography, and computed tomography), ultrasound systems, biomarker tests, in-vitro and in-vivo diagnostics and therapy diagnostic systems (immunoassay, clinical chemistry, diseased- and drug-focused specialty immunoassay, molecular and microbiology units), and hemostasis products, as well as blood gas, diabetes, and urinalysis monitoring devices. The Imaging & IT Div. provides imaging systems for early diagnosis and intervention, disease prevention, and optimizing patient care. Workflow & Solutions provides medical systems for cardiology and oncology (including conventional radiation systems and particle therapy), neurology, women's health (mammography), urology, surgery, and audiology, to name a few medical fields. The division is also a turnkey provider for enterprises ranging from clinics to national health IT systems, and it provides consulting services in medical operations management, IT, and building management. The Diagnostics Div. provides in-vitro diagnostic systems (including immune diagnostics and molecular analysis) for point-of-care applications on up to large laboratories. Siemens is also the world's largest hearing aid manufacturer. It has 13 product lines of hearing systems tailored for active people, as well as tiny, advanced hearing aids designed for children.

Siemens Cross-Sector Businesses specialize in corporate financing and IT systems. Siemens IT Solutions and Services provides everything from consulting to system integration to the management of IT infrastructures. Siemens Financial Services provides sales and investment financing, treasury services, fund management, risk and asset management, and insurance brokerage services for Siemens and third parties.

Siemens Strategic Equity Investments, created in October 2006, provides household appliances, computers and communication networks through its partnerships and affiliates. BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgerdte GmbH (Siemens Appliances) is the third-largest manufacturer of household appliances in the world. Fujitsu Siemens Computers BV sells home and business computer products including media centers and living room PCs, laptops and PCs, various LCD monitors, accessories (input devices, storage devices, wireless products, and the like), and software (accounting, database, system management, and IT infrastructure software). Nokia Siemens Networks (which combines Nokia's Networks Business Group and the carrier-related businesses of Siemens Communications) is one of the top three players in the telecommunications industry.

Other Operations include Siemens Real Estate, which provides one-stop shopping for developing, planning, and managing office and commercial property; and Siemens Real Estate, which provides property management and leasing services to Siemens and third parties.


These lists of Siemens competitors, by major market, are hardly exhaustive:

Industrial automation: ABB, Bosch, Eaton, Emerson Electric, Fanuc and General Electric (GE) and GE Fanuc, Honeywell, Invensys, Rockwell, and Schneider Electric.

Power industry construction: ABB, Alstom, Bechtel, Cegelec Contracting GmbH, CH2M Hill, GE, and Graycor. For wind turbine equipment, the competition includes Clipper Windpower, Gamesa, GE, Mitsubishi, Suzlon, and Vestas.

Building technologies: ADT Security System, Bosch, Johnson Controls, Kidde, Panasonic, and Tyco International.

Software for digital design, manufacturing, and PLM: The major competitor is Dassault Systèmes, plus a raft of mid-level and specialized CAx/PLM vendors, including Autodesk, Bentley Systems, PTC, and think3.

IT infrastructure: Capgemini, Dell, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Fujitsu, Oracle, SAP, Sun Microsystems, and Tyco International.

Home appliances: Bosch, Daewoo Electronics, GE, LG Electronics, Philips, Samsung, Sub-Zero, Viking, and Whirlpool.

Communications: Alcatel, BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, Nokia, Sprint Nextel, Verizon Communications, and Vodafone Group.

Transportation systems: Alstom, Bombardier, Cegelec Contracting, and GETS (GE-Transportation, and Global Signaling).

Healthcare (diagnostic systems): Abbott Laboratories, Bracco, Fujitsu, GE Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson, Nycomed Amersham, and Philips. Lighting: GE, Philips, and Sylvania. 


A Closer Look

For more information about Siemens’ products for industry, energy, healthcare, its cross-sector businesses, its Strategic Equity Investments (appliance, computer, and telephony products), and real estate, visit the company’s general portal at:

The websites with more information about Siemens’ three primary market sectors are:
Industry: www.siemens.com/industry
Energy: www.siemens.com/energy
Healthcare: www.siemens.com/healthcare
To find a Siemens PLM Software product or system for specific CAD/CAM/CAE needs or the entire PLM spectrum, visit:


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