Agile Collaboration: Optimizing Siemens’ Supply Chain with a Digital Twin

Client New Client Our Blog

Feb 2021,

Philipp Dörner

Siemens is one of the world’s leading technology companies in the world. In fact, they are not just one of the biggest players in the energy and mobility sector but also in the medical sector.

Siemens Healthineers, the mother company for Siemens’ medical technology companies, has more than 50,000 employees, 18,500 patents worldwide and 120 years of experience. The fact that about 240,000 people get in touch with their medical systems every hour underlines that Siemens Healthineers is a key player in the medical industry.

On their mission to enable healthcare providers to deliver the best work possible, they offer products that cover the whole healthcare spectrum from imaging to diagnostics to advanced therapy systems. To maximize their impact, they aim to digitize healthcare as far as possible.

A digital twin for an optimal supply chain

For their daily business, Siemens Healthineers must have a perfect supply chain in place.

“For instance, think about angiography systems”, explains Xinya Xu from Siemens. “Those are extremely complex and difficult to assemble and thus only made when there is an order. But of course, as soon as there is an order, we need to be able to assemble it quickly.”

To solve that challenge, Healthineers has a worldwide make-to-stock production for system components. These are delivered just-in-time to the place where the systems are actually assembled. This enables make-to-order production of e.g. angiography systems.

So, basically, their supply chain is separated into two different parts that must be connected with just-in-time production. For that to work, they need perfect business intelligence tools.

Philipp Dörner, Co-Founder and CTO at Motius, describes the technical challenges that Healthineers faces: “A technological solution for that would have to be able to handle large amounts of data from different sources, identify complex relations between these data and then display them in a user-friendly way. Adding to that, the solution has to work within a complex supply chain that involves sensitive data from multiple sources embedded in a large corporate infrastructure.”

Existing standard business intelligence tools simply are not able to do all of that, which might result in poor supply chain transparency, high costs and slow response times. That is why Healthineers needed to build their own tool. And despite the strongly regulated healthcare sector, they had to do it fast which means they aimed for agile and user-centric project management.

They found an agile collaboration partner with cutting-edge technology expertise in Motius. Together, we set out to solve Healthineers’ complex challenge by building a digital twin of their factories. Such a digital twin would allow integrating, analyzing and displaying all relevant data in real time.

Simplifying complex data for a better UX

First, we assessed the status quo of how Siemens was handling the data. The picture below gives you an impression of how complex it was in the beginning. It had all the information but it was not user-friendly.

The result was a real time digital twin – a new business intelligence tool for Siemens Healthineers. And Xinya Xu is very happy with it: “The digital twin provides a real-time link between supplier data, inventory data and material requirements to ensure a better transparency on the material situation and the material resupply process. It helps us to improve the flexibility to take reactions for bottlenecks, identify the weak spots at working processes and gain a more robust supply chain management.”

With this UI, handling the complex data was a massive challenge for everyone involved.

The user matters most when designing a User Interface (UI). That is why we decided to engage in several user-centric Design Thinking iterations. That means empathizing with the users, finding out what they really need and then iterating until the solution provides a perfect user experience (UX).

With the first few iterations, we could already significantly improve the UI.

At this point, you should not forget that UX is all about an interface that lets the users easily do what they want to do. For instance, ours needed to visualize complicated data without exposing users to the complicated data structure in the background. Here is what it looked like in the end.

The final version of the digital twin UI.

“Now, for instance, production state and bottlenecks are visualized by graphs and a traffic light based color coding system. Further, users are able to filter and search easily, without being exposed to the complicated data structure. What enabled this huge progress was the iterative and user-centric approach that we chose”, states Xinya Xu.

Obviously, building the UI was only the first part of the project. Next was the data.

Developing data strategy and infrastructure

The data strategy that we developed was based on three important technologies: data lake, GraphQL and Kubernetes. Since we have a lot of experience with those technologies, let’s quickly explain what they can do.

A data lake is exactly what it sounds like – a place where all relevant data are gathered and saved. One data lake gives us access to all the data we need, there is no need for multiple different data storages.

GraphQL is a query language for APIs that lets us extract exactly the data that we need. That is perfect for a data lake because we usually do not need all the data from the data lake. Rather, we need specific information depending on what we are doing.

Kubernetes allows to navigate seamlessly between local development setups, staging environments, a first on-premise deployment, followed by a public cloud trial-run, and finally a private cloud deployment.

Now, knowing about those technologies, Philipp explains what we actually did:

“First, we helped to set up the data lake that gathers all data from many different sources in one place. Next, we developed the GraphQL API which enabled us to extract only the data that we needed to optimize the supply chain. Last but not least, we used Kubernetes to stay flexible on where the application was deployed to. This was necessary because at the time there was a big move from on-premise to cloud infrastructure at Healthineers. We spun up a mini-Kubernetes deployment on a virtual machine at first, then moved to a small cluster in the cloud, and finally to a managed Kubernetes service. Each step took us 1-2h instead of days or weeks. Of course, there were more technologies involved in the process, for example Django and React, but those three were really at the core.”

The perks of agile project management

As we described above, agile project management was key to the success of this project. Through methods like user-centric Design Thinking or SCRUM, we managed to develop a solution with Siemens that fulfilled the needs and got deployed quickly. And more than that, the agile project management had a lasting impact on Siemens’ team, as Xinya Xu explains:

“Within our large corporate structure, it is not always easy to be as agile as we were in this project – things take more time and are not as iterative. That is why we are really happy that we learned new approaches to project management from Motius. They completely involved us in the process and thus enabled us to apply many new methods in future projects. After all, that is also an important aspect for our digital transformation.”

Collaboration for innovation

The agile collaboration of Siemens Healthineers and Motius underlines the importance of open innovation. Such projects show what is possible when companies with industry-specific knowledge on the one hand and companies with cutting-edge technology expertise on the other hand work together.

For Siemens Healthineers, the impact was not just the optimized supply chain management, but also the agile project management that enables them to approach their own future projects differently. After all, that is what Philipp considers to be crucial:

“Agile project management is exactly what many corporates need for their digitalization efforts, yet they often struggle to apply it from scratch. With this project, we showed that it is possible to apply agile project management in a complex corporate infrastructure that manages very sensitive data and is embedded in the heavily regulated medical sector. It simply highlights the value of innovation partners for companies that want to innovate.”

And how about you – are you ready to innovate? Let’s talk about it.

Want to build a product of the future?

Siemens is one of the world’s leading technology companies in the world. In fact, they are not just one of the biggest players in the energy and mobility sector but also in the medical sector.

Siemens Healthineers, the mother company for Siemens’ medical technology companies, has more than 50,000 employees, 18,500 patents worldwide and 120 years of experience. The fact that about 240,000 people get in touch with their medical systems every hour underlines that Siemens Healthineers is a key player in the medical industry.

On their mission to enable healthcare providers to deliver the best work possible, they offer products that cover the whole healthcare spectrum from imaging to diagnostics to advanced therapy systems. To maximize their impact, they aim to digitize healthcare as far as possible.

A digital twin for an optimal supply chain

For their daily business, Siemens Healthineers must have a perfect supply chain in place.

“For instance, think about angiography systems”, explains Xinya Xu from Siemens. “Those are extremely complex and difficult to assemble and thus only made when there is an order. But of course, as soon as there is an order, we need to be able to assemble it quickly.”

To solve that challenge, Healthineers has a worldwide make-to-stock production for system components. These are delivered just-in-time to the place where the systems are actually assembled. This enables make-to-order production of e.g. angiography systems.

So, basically, their supply chain is separated into two different parts that must be connected with just-in-time production. For that to work, they need perfect business intelligence tools.

Philipp Dörner, Co-Founder and CTO at Motius, describes the technical challenges that Healthineers faces: “A technological solution for that would have to be able to handle large amounts of data from different sources, identify complex relations between these data and then display them in a user-friendly way. Adding to that, the solution has to work within a complex supply chain that involves sensitive data from multiple sources embedded in a large corporate infrastructure.”

Existing standard business intelligence tools simply are not able to do all of that, which might result in poor supply chain transparency, high costs and slow response times. That is why Healthineers needed to build their own tool. And despite the strongly regulated healthcare sector, they had to do it fast which means they aimed for agile and user-centric project management.

They found an agile collaboration partner with cutting-edge technology expertise in Motius. Together, we set out to solve Healthineers’ complex challenge by building a digital twin of their factories. Such a digital twin would allow integrating, analyzing and displaying all relevant data in real time.

Simplifying complex data for a better UX

First, we assessed the status quo of how Siemens was handling the data. The picture below gives you an impression of how complex it was in the beginning. It had all the information but it was not user-friendly.

The result was a real time digital twin – a new business intelligence tool for Siemens Healthineers. And Xinya Xu is very happy with it: “The digital twin provides a real-time link between supplier data, inventory data and material requirements to ensure a better transparency on the material situation and the material resupply process. It helps us to improve the flexibility to take reactions for bottlenecks, identify the weak spots at working processes and gain a more robust supply chain management.”

With this UI, handling the complex data was a massive challenge for everyone involved.

The user matters most when designing a User Interface (UI). That is why we decided to engage in several user-centric Design Thinking iterations. That means empathizing with the users, finding out what they really need and then iterating until the solution provides a perfect user experience (UX).

With the first few iterations, we could already significantly improve the UI.

At this point, you should not forget that UX is all about an interface that lets the users easily do what they want to do. For instance, ours needed to visualize complicated data without exposing users to the complicated data structure in the background. Here is what it looked like in the end.

The final version of the digital twin UI.

“Now, for instance, production state and bottlenecks are visualized by graphs and a traffic light based color coding system. Further, users are able to filter and search easily, without being exposed to the complicated data structure. What enabled this huge progress was the iterative and user-centric approach that we chose”, states Xinya Xu.

Obviously, building the UI was only the first part of the project. Next was the data.

Developing data strategy and infrastructure

The data strategy that we developed was based on three important technologies: data lake, GraphQL and Kubernetes. Since we have a lot of experience with those technologies, let’s quickly explain what they can do.

A data lake is exactly what it sounds like – a place where all relevant data are gathered and saved. One data lake gives us access to all the data we need, there is no need for multiple different data storages.

GraphQL is a query language for APIs that lets us extract exactly the data that we need. That is perfect for a data lake because we usually do not need all the data from the data lake. Rather, we need specific information depending on what we are doing.

Kubernetes allows to navigate seamlessly between local development setups, staging environments, a first on-premise deployment, followed by a public cloud trial-run, and finally a private cloud deployment.

Now, knowing about those technologies, Philipp explains what we actually did:

“First, we helped to set up the data lake that gathers all data from many different sources in one place. Next, we developed the GraphQL API which enabled us to extract only the data that we needed to optimize the supply chain. Last but not least, we used Kubernetes to stay flexible on where the application was deployed to. This was necessary because at the time there was a big move from on-premise to cloud infrastructure at Healthineers. We spun up a mini-Kubernetes deployment on a virtual machine at first, then moved to a small cluster in the cloud, and finally to a managed Kubernetes service. Each step took us 1-2h instead of days or weeks. Of course, there were more technologies involved in the process, for example Django and React, but those three were really at the core.”

The perks of agile project management

As we described above, agile project management was key to the success of this project. Through methods like user-centric Design Thinking or SCRUM, we managed to develop a solution with Siemens that fulfilled the needs and got deployed quickly. And more than that, the agile project management had a lasting impact on Siemens’ team, as Xinya Xu explains:

“Within our large corporate structure, it is not always easy to be as agile as we were in this project – things take more time and are not as iterative. That is why we are really happy that we learned new approaches to project management from Motius. They completely involved us in the process and thus enabled us to apply many new methods in future projects. After all, that is also an important aspect for our digital transformation.”

Collaboration for innovation

The agile collaboration of Siemens Healthineers and Motius underlines the importance of open innovation. Such projects show what is possible when companies with industry-specific knowledge on the one hand and companies with cutting-edge technology expertise on the other hand work together.

For Siemens Healthineers, the impact was not just the optimized supply chain management, but also the agile project management that enables them to approach their own future projects differently. After all, that is what Philipp considers to be crucial:

“Agile project management is exactly what many corporates need for their digitalization efforts, yet they often struggle to apply it from scratch. With this project, we showed that it is possible to apply agile project management in a complex corporate infrastructure that manages very sensitive data and is embedded in the heavily regulated medical sector. It simply highlights the value of innovation partners for companies that want to innovate.”

And how about you – are you ready to innovate? Let’s talk about it.

Want to build a product of the future?

Siemens is one of the world’s leading technology companies in the world. In fact, they are not just one of the biggest players in the energy and mobility sector but also in the medical sector.

Siemens Healthineers, the mother company for Siemens’ medical technology companies, has more than 50,000 employees, 18,500 patents worldwide and 120 years of experience. The fact that about 240,000 people get in touch with their medical systems every hour underlines that Siemens Healthineers is a key player in the medical industry.

On their mission to enable healthcare providers to deliver the best work possible, they offer products that cover the whole healthcare spectrum from imaging to diagnostics to advanced therapy systems. To maximize their impact, they aim to digitize healthcare as far as possible.

A digital twin for an optimal supply chain

For their daily business, Siemens Healthineers must have a perfect supply chain in place.

“For instance, think about angiography systems”, explains Xinya Xu from Siemens. “Those are extremely complex and difficult to assemble and thus only made when there is an order. But of course, as soon as there is an order, we need to be able to assemble it quickly.”

To solve that challenge, Healthineers has a worldwide make-to-stock production for system components. These are delivered just-in-time to the place where the systems are actually assembled. This enables make-to-order production of e.g. angiography systems.

So, basically, their supply chain is separated into two different parts that must be connected with just-in-time production. For that to work, they need perfect business intelligence tools.

Philipp Dörner, Co-Founder and CTO at Motius, describes the technical challenges that Healthineers faces: “A technological solution for that would have to be able to handle large amounts of data from different sources, identify complex relations between these data and then display them in a user-friendly way. Adding to that, the solution has to work within a complex supply chain that involves sensitive data from multiple sources embedded in a large corporate infrastructure.”

Existing standard business intelligence tools simply are not able to do all of that, which might result in poor supply chain transparency, high costs and slow response times. That is why Healthineers needed to build their own tool. And despite the strongly regulated healthcare sector, they had to do it fast which means they aimed for agile and user-centric project management.

They found an agile collaboration partner with cutting-edge technology expertise in Motius. Together, we set out to solve Healthineers’ complex challenge by building a digital twin of their factories. Such a digital twin would allow integrating, analyzing and displaying all relevant data in real time.

Simplifying complex data for a better UX

First, we assessed the status quo of how Siemens was handling the data. The picture below gives you an impression of how complex it was in the beginning. It had all the information but it was not user-friendly.

The result was a real time digital twin – a new business intelligence tool for Siemens Healthineers. And Xinya Xu is very happy with it: “The digital twin provides a real-time link between supplier data, inventory data and material requirements to ensure a better transparency on the material situation and the material resupply process. It helps us to improve the flexibility to take reactions for bottlenecks, identify the weak spots at working processes and gain a more robust supply chain management.”

With this UI, handling the complex data was a massive challenge for everyone involved.

The user matters most when designing a User Interface (UI). That is why we decided to engage in several user-centric Design Thinking iterations. That means empathizing with the users, finding out what they really need and then iterating until the solution provides a perfect user experience (UX).

With the first few iterations, we could already significantly improve the UI.

At this point, you should not forget that UX is all about an interface that lets the users easily do what they want to do. For instance, ours needed to visualize complicated data without exposing users to the complicated data structure in the background. Here is what it looked like in the end.

The final version of the digital twin UI.

“Now, for instance, production state and bottlenecks are visualized by graphs and a traffic light based color coding system. Further, users are able to filter and search easily, without being exposed to the complicated data structure. What enabled this huge progress was the iterative and user-centric approach that we chose”, states Xinya Xu.

Obviously, building the UI was only the first part of the project. Next was the data.

Developing data strategy and infrastructure

The data strategy that we developed was based on three important technologies: data lake, GraphQL and Kubernetes. Since we have a lot of experience with those technologies, let’s quickly explain what they can do.

A data lake is exactly what it sounds like – a place where all relevant data are gathered and saved. One data lake gives us access to all the data we need, there is no need for multiple different data storages.

GraphQL is a query language for APIs that lets us extract exactly the data that we need. That is perfect for a data lake because we usually do not need all the data from the data lake. Rather, we need specific information depending on what we are doing.

Kubernetes allows to navigate seamlessly between local development setups, staging environments, a first on-premise deployment, followed by a public cloud trial-run, and finally a private cloud deployment.

Now, knowing about those technologies, Philipp explains what we actually did:

“First, we helped to set up the data lake that gathers all data from many different sources in one place. Next, we developed the GraphQL API which enabled us to extract only the data that we needed to optimize the supply chain. Last but not least, we used Kubernetes to stay flexible on where the application was deployed to. This was necessary because at the time there was a big move from on-premise to cloud infrastructure at Healthineers. We spun up a mini-Kubernetes deployment on a virtual machine at first, then moved to a small cluster in the cloud, and finally to a managed Kubernetes service. Each step took us 1-2h instead of days or weeks. Of course, there were more technologies involved in the process, for example Django and React, but those three were really at the core.”

The perks of agile project management

As we described above, agile project management was key to the success of this project. Through methods like user-centric Design Thinking or SCRUM, we managed to develop a solution with Siemens that fulfilled the needs and got deployed quickly. And more than that, the agile project management had a lasting impact on Siemens’ team, as Xinya Xu explains:

“Within our large corporate structure, it is not always easy to be as agile as we were in this project – things take more time and are not as iterative. That is why we are really happy that we learned new approaches to project management from Motius. They completely involved us in the process and thus enabled us to apply many new methods in future projects. After all, that is also an important aspect for our digital transformation.”

Collaboration for innovation

The agile collaboration of Siemens Healthineers and Motius underlines the importance of open innovation. Such projects show what is possible when companies with industry-specific knowledge on the one hand and companies with cutting-edge technology expertise on the other hand work together.

For Siemens Healthineers, the impact was not just the optimized supply chain management, but also the agile project management that enables them to approach their own future projects differently. After all, that is what Philipp considers to be crucial:

“Agile project management is exactly what many corporates need for their digitalization efforts, yet they often struggle to apply it from scratch. With this project, we showed that it is possible to apply agile project management in a complex corporate infrastructure that manages very sensitive data and is embedded in the heavily regulated medical sector. It simply highlights the value of innovation partners for companies that want to innovate.”

And how about you – are you ready to innovate? Let’s talk about it.

Want to build a product of the future?

Siemens is one of the world’s leading technology companies in the world. In fact, they are not just one of the biggest players in the energy and mobility sector but also in the medical sector.

Siemens Healthineers, the mother company for Siemens’ medical technology companies, has more than 50,000 employees, 18,500 patents worldwide and 120 years of experience. The fact that about 240,000 people get in touch with their medical systems every hour underlines that Siemens Healthineers is a key player in the medical industry.

On their mission to enable healthcare providers to deliver the best work possible, they offer products that cover the whole healthcare spectrum from imaging to diagnostics to advanced therapy systems. To maximize their impact, they aim to digitize healthcare as far as possible.

A digital twin for an optimal supply chain

For their daily business, Siemens Healthineers must have a perfect supply chain in place.

“For instance, think about angiography systems”, explains Xinya Xu from Siemens. “Those are extremely complex and difficult to assemble and thus only made when there is an order. But of course, as soon as there is an order, we need to be able to assemble it quickly.”

To solve that challenge, Healthineers has a worldwide make-to-stock production for system components. These are delivered just-in-time to the place where the systems are actually assembled. This enables make-to-order production of e.g. angiography systems.

So, basically, their supply chain is separated into two different parts that must be connected with just-in-time production. For that to work, they need perfect business intelligence tools.

Philipp Dörner, Co-Founder and CTO at Motius, describes the technical challenges that Healthineers faces: “A technological solution for that would have to be able to handle large amounts of data from different sources, identify complex relations between these data and then display them in a user-friendly way. Adding to that, the solution has to work within a complex supply chain that involves sensitive data from multiple sources embedded in a large corporate infrastructure.”

Existing standard business intelligence tools simply are not able to do all of that, which might result in poor supply chain transparency, high costs and slow response times. That is why Healthineers needed to build their own tool. And despite the strongly regulated healthcare sector, they had to do it fast which means they aimed for agile and user-centric project management.

They found an agile collaboration partner with cutting-edge technology expertise in Motius. Together, we set out to solve Healthineers’ complex challenge by building a digital twin of their factories. Such a digital twin would allow integrating, analyzing and displaying all relevant data in real time.

Simplifying complex data for a better UX

First, we assessed the status quo of how Siemens was handling the data. The picture below gives you an impression of how complex it was in the beginning. It had all the information but it was not user-friendly.

The result was a real time digital twin – a new business intelligence tool for Siemens Healthineers. And Xinya Xu is very happy with it: “The digital twin provides a real-time link between supplier data, inventory data and material requirements to ensure a better transparency on the material situation and the material resupply process. It helps us to improve the flexibility to take reactions for bottlenecks, identify the weak spots at working processes and gain a more robust supply chain management.”

With this UI, handling the complex data was a massive challenge for everyone involved.

The user matters most when designing a User Interface (UI). That is why we decided to engage in several user-centric Design Thinking iterations. That means empathizing with the users, finding out what they really need and then iterating until the solution provides a perfect user experience (UX).

With the first few iterations, we could already significantly improve the UI.

At this point, you should not forget that UX is all about an interface that lets the users easily do what they want to do. For instance, ours needed to visualize complicated data without exposing users to the complicated data structure in the background. Here is what it looked like in the end.

The final version of the digital twin UI.

“Now, for instance, production state and bottlenecks are visualized by graphs and a traffic light based color coding system. Further, users are able to filter and search easily, without being exposed to the complicated data structure. What enabled this huge progress was the iterative and user-centric approach that we chose”, states Xinya Xu.

Obviously, building the UI was only the first part of the project. Next was the data.

Developing data strategy and infrastructure

The data strategy that we developed was based on three important technologies: data lake, GraphQL and Kubernetes. Since we have a lot of experience with those technologies, let’s quickly explain what they can do.

A data lake is exactly what it sounds like – a place where all relevant data are gathered and saved. One data lake gives us access to all the data we need, there is no need for multiple different data storages.

GraphQL is a query language for APIs that lets us extract exactly the data that we need. That is perfect for a data lake because we usually do not need all the data from the data lake. Rather, we need specific information depending on what we are doing.

Kubernetes allows to navigate seamlessly between local development setups, staging environments, a first on-premise deployment, followed by a public cloud trial-run, and finally a private cloud deployment.

Now, knowing about those technologies, Philipp explains what we actually did:

“First, we helped to set up the data lake that gathers all data from many different sources in one place. Next, we developed the GraphQL API which enabled us to extract only the data that we needed to optimize the supply chain. Last but not least, we used Kubernetes to stay flexible on where the application was deployed to. This was necessary because at the time there was a big move from on-premise to cloud infrastructure at Healthineers. We spun up a mini-Kubernetes deployment on a virtual machine at first, then moved to a small cluster in the cloud, and finally to a managed Kubernetes service. Each step took us 1-2h instead of days or weeks. Of course, there were more technologies involved in the process, for example Django and React, but those three were really at the core.”

The perks of agile project management

As we described above, agile project management was key to the success of this project. Through methods like user-centric Design Thinking or SCRUM, we managed to develop a solution with Siemens that fulfilled the needs and got deployed quickly. And more than that, the agile project management had a lasting impact on Siemens’ team, as Xinya Xu explains:

“Within our large corporate structure, it is not always easy to be as agile as we were in this project – things take more time and are not as iterative. That is why we are really happy that we learned new approaches to project management from Motius. They completely involved us in the process and thus enabled us to apply many new methods in future projects. After all, that is also an important aspect for our digital transformation.”

Collaboration for innovation

The agile collaboration of Siemens Healthineers and Motius underlines the importance of open innovation. Such projects show what is possible when companies with industry-specific knowledge on the one hand and companies with cutting-edge technology expertise on the other hand work together.

For Siemens Healthineers, the impact was not just the optimized supply chain management, but also the agile project management that enables them to approach their own future projects differently. After all, that is what Philipp considers to be crucial:

“Agile project management is exactly what many corporates need for their digitalization efforts, yet they often struggle to apply it from scratch. With this project, we showed that it is possible to apply agile project management in a complex corporate infrastructure that manages very sensitive data and is embedded in the heavily regulated medical sector. It simply highlights the value of innovation partners for companies that want to innovate.”

And how about you – are you ready to innovate? Let’s talk about it.

Want to build a product of the future?

Related Insights

All Insights