Jul. 25, 2018


Dietmar Siersdorfer

UAE, Abu Dhabi

Dietmar Siersdorfer

CEO, Siemens Middle East and Siemens UAE

“Siemens recently signed an agreement for a pilot project to kick off the region's first solar-driven hydrogen electrolysis facility.”

BIO

Dietmar Siersdorfer is CEO of Siemens Middle East and CEO of Siemens LLC United Arab Emirates since December 2013. Based in the UAE, Siersdorfer joined Siemens in 1987 in Mannheim, Germany, as an electrical engineer and held various managerial positions in the Industry and Energy sectors during his tenure at the company. For two years, starting 1997, he was located at the Siemens Southeast Asia headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, promoting the Industry Sector’s Digitalization business in the region. In 2001, Siersdorfer took over the global responsibility for Manufacturing Execution Systems within Siemens AG in Erlangen, Germany. In this position he focused on digital plant optimization, covering a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, food and beverage, power generation, chemicals, automotive, and manufacturing on a global scale and particularly in the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe. In 2004, he was appointed Executive Senior Vice President for fossil power generation for Europe, Africa, Middle East and India. Two years later, he became President and CEO of the global fossil energy solutions business within the Siemens Power Generation division.

What are Siemens' strategic goals for 2018, and how do they align with the country's preparation for the World Expo 2020 and UAE Vision 2021?

We have recently announced plans to expand our digital presence in the Middle East with a USD500 million investment over the next three years, which includes the opening of two MindSphere Application Centers in the UAE. MindSphere is a cloud-based, open IoT operating system that connects products, plants, systems, and machines, enabling organizations to harness the wealth of data generated by IoT with advanced analytics and granting them an edge to cloud connectivity. In this context, the Dubai center will handle airports, logistics, and cargo, in addition to co-developing innovative approaches that improve the movement of people and goods. This will allow us to work closely with our customers and partners to come up with digital solutions specifically aimed at solving their challenges. The MindSphere Application Center in Abu Dhabi will cater to process industries, mainly focusing on oil, gas, water and waste. It is aimed at enabling customers to improve operational efficiency and reduce their costs across the entire value chain. We are also heavily investing in software grants across the region, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. These grants are aimed at boosting digital skills among youth in the region by providing them with our Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software. Developing local skills is the key to driving the countries' digital transformation. Moreover, Expo 2020 Dubai selected Siemens as the Premier Partner for Intelligent Infrastructure & Operations, enabled and digitalized by our IoT operating system MindSphere. With MindSphere at the heart of our partnership, we are working closely with our partners to create a digitally connected Expo unlike any other previous one. This means we are looking at providing crucial products, services, and solutions that will maximize and optimize Expo 2020 Dubai for visitors and operators.

What are the key priorities in applying cybersecurity measures for industrial and energy automation systems in the UAE and what are the major challenges in this regard?

Cybersecurity is one of the biggest challenges facing industries today. While companies have improved protection for their IT environment, they have yet to do the same for their Operational Technology (OT). This means implementing technology solutions suitable for OT to protect the operational assets. We recently conducted a study on the state of readiness of the oil and gas industry in the Middle East to tackle cyberattacks, which revealed how oil and gas OT environments face significant and mounting cybersecurity risk. Moreover, around 60% of respondents surveyed for the study said they face a greater risk in the OT than in the IT environment, and 67% believe the risk level to industrial control systems over the past few years has substantially increased because of cyber threats. The results also showed that while digitalization is improving efficiencies and operational insights for oil and gas companies, it is also generating significantly increased cyber risks. In order for organizations to capture the full benefits of digitalization, it is essential that they rigorously address the OT cyber risk.

What sectors, so far, have shown the greatest flexibility in adapting to digitalization and why do you think this has been the case? On the other hand, where do you think there is still a lot of potential for disruption?

It is not about adapting to digitalization; it's about embracing it. Different sectors are at various stages of embracing digitalization with different imperatives. When it comes to building infrastructure, for example, digital technologies have been implemented on a wider scale given the availability of data and the speed at which digitalization can realize gains in energy efficiency, cost reduction, and security. We have also seen some of the more nascent manufacturing companies in the UAE adopting digital technologies such as 3D printing. In 2017, Siemens successfully completed a pilot project for the first certified aircraft interior part that was 3D printed with STRATA and Etihad. This was a first for the Middle East and North Africa region, and we expect this technology to be used more widely. The across the board implementation of other digital technologies such as AI and blockchain is only set to increase over time. For example, companies such as LO3 are already using blockchain in the energy sector to achieve greater efficiencies.

Looking at the current power generation scenario, how does the UAE compare to other MENA countries in terms of driving sustainability efforts and what have been the major developments since we last met?

The UAE has ambitious targets to achieve a healthy energy mix that includes using conventional fuels as well as renewable sources of power generation. This is tremendous forward thinking, especially when you consider our outlook for the energy sector, which forecasts that the share of renewables in the Middle East's energy mix will triple by 2035. In the UAE, we have also seen bold moves to experiment with new and green technologies such as hydrogen, which is dubbed as one of the fuels of the future. In fact, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Expo 2020 Dubai, and Siemens recently signed an agreement for a pilot project to kick off the region's first solar-driven hydrogen electrolysis facility to be located at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai. The pilot would look at testing and showcasing an integrated MW-scale plant to produce hydrogen using renewable energy from solar panels at the Solar Park, store the gas, and then deploy it for either re-electrification, transportation or other industrial uses.

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