A company that helps manufacturing plants become more productive is spotlighting more than 100,000 products in a traveling technology facility being towed by barge to various U.S. destinations.
A modular, two-story building—dubbed the exiderdome—encompasses more than 10,000 ft (3050 m) of space. The unusual technology showcase brings Siemens Energy & Automation productivity solutions to customers and potential clients in atypical fashion.
“You could never take this 500-ton barge with the breadth of technology we have in this space and move it into someone's office,” Raj Batra, Vice President of Automation and Motion Division for Siemens Energy & Automation, said during the exiderdome’s recent Detroit stopover. You might see subsets of this technology expo being presented or possibly see a PowerPoint view of what all of this technology does inside an office environment.”
Siemens’ exiderdome represents a unique way "for people to engage with industry experts and talk about the problems and issues they have in the manufacturing space, and it gives people an opportunity to see 137,000 products," said Batra. On a global tour since 2005, the exiderdome hit U.S. shores in 2008. The building-atop-a-barge includes eight product rooms, conference rooms, and two atriums used for training sessions, multimedia presentations, and other purposes.
Offshore, the company puts its products into the hands of various land-based customers, including Volkswagen, Kia, Hyundai, Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, and BMW.
“BMW in South Carolina is probably one of our biggest programs occurring at the moment,” said Batra. Siemens is delivering automated conveyor systems and end-of-the-line testing systems for the German automaker’s newly expanded assembly facility in Spartanburg, SC. The company is also handling mechanical design work and is serving as the general contractor for the mechanical and electrical integration of the plant project.
Batra pointed out that the work Siemens is doing at BMW's plant in South Carolina is "a great example of how we're marrying the graphical design and modeling of assembly plants with manufacturing technology. With digital manufacturing, it’s about modeling and simulating everything before anything is actually put in production."
PROFINET, the international open industrial ethernet standard for automation, and Siemens’ Totally Integrated Automation platform are part of the implementation package at BMW’s South Carolina plant.
In addition to the many digital manufacturing exhibits on display inside the exiderdome, the traveling expo is emphasizing ways for companies to reduce the carbon footprint at production facilities.
"This was largely ignored in the past because it was only 2 to 3% of the operating cost. Today, this is a front-and-center issue, and we have in this exiderdome the technology that manages the software utilization of industrial motors, which in turn enables energy costs to be cut by 10 to as much as 50% in certain cases," said Batra.