Siemens and BILT Innovate to Educate the Next Generation of Electricians

3D Intelligent Instructions® offer revolutionary training for distributors and contractors.

Over the shoulder shot of an electrician learning how to assemble and install a Siemens power panel with BILT for training and education


As the manufacturing skills gap grows, Siemens looked for a better way to transfer knowledge to distributors and contractors


BILT provided Siemens with a more portable, uniform platform to educate and train these audiences—whether at a company’s facility, work site, or other location


Distributors increased operational efficiency leading to faster product fulfillment and higher sales, while contractors benefited from the advantages of BILT instructions in real time

According to a recent study by Deloitte, “Seventy-seven percent of surveyed manufacturers anticipate there will be ongoing difficulties in attracting and retaining workers in 2021 and beyond.” Manufacturers are challenged in filling entry-level positions, as well as skilled positions. The manufacturing skills gap could result in 2.1 million unfulfilled jobs by 2023, according to the study. This is one reason why Siemens is taking a lead on training and reskilling the workforce.

Through Siemens University, the SI school program, and VR training initiatives, the Electrical Products Business (EP) within Siemens in the U.S. has focused on providing valuable resources for knowledge expansion to electrical apprentices, electrical contractors, and distributors, as well as their own internal manufacturing and sales and business development workforce for many years now. The team creates content to address both macro initiatives—such as workforce development and retention—as well as more specific needs, such as developing customized training tracks for individual partners.

Making Knowledge More Portable

Providing hands-on assembly and training about their products is a focal point for the business. Siemens EP has been delivering this content through traditional channels like textbooks and videos, as well as more recently through virtual reality. It’s a comprehensive approach.

“But the problem is you can’t take all of this information to a job site, manufacturing plant, or even a sales call,” says David Quatela, Marketing Manager for Siemens.

So, Siemens EP partnered with BILT to provide greater knowledge transferability by conveniently integrating this information into a user’s phone. “BILT takes CAD drawings from engineering and converts them into digital animations with step-by-step instructions of how to put together some of our more complex solutions,” states Quatela. “By doing so, it really demystifies our assembly and installation processes to gain efficiency, reduce labor time, and get off the job site faster.”

The partnership with BILT has already transformed relationships with several key target audiences for Siemens EP in a short amount of time: electrical distributors and electrical contractors. This case study will provide key findings on how an innovative approach to presenting the information has made a huge difference for these two groups.

[BILT] really demystifies our assembly and installation processes to gain efficiency, reduce labor time, and get off the job site faster.
Dave Quatala
Marketing Manager for Siemens

Increasing Efficiency for Distributors

Faced with long lead times on fully assembled products and the added complication of an inefficient supply chain, distributors told the Siemens team about their growing need to get products to their customers faster and cheaper.

Siemens responded by developing their “Projects on Demand (POD)” program. With this initiative, distributors receive the components of a product instead of an assembled product. The distributors then put everything together for their customers. “As a distributor, there’s a huge value here because this enables them to receive the product much quicker. And then they’re able to get it to their contractors within a few days versus weeks or months,” states Quatela.

The issue for Siemens, though, was providing a uniform way for distributors to assemble the products. “So, we created an experience through BILT which allows the distributor to put together the product as a value-added service,” says Quatela. “Distributors are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. This is one way to do that.”

Boosting Distributor Success with Digital Innovation

When Siemens was vetting the viability of the POD program, they approached a major distributor client because the company was already assembling Siemens products on their own. The client used two employees working together to assemble the products using paper instructions from Siemens. Each assembly took over two hours for the team to complete.

Siemens, along with members of the BILT team, visited the client’s site. When the client used the BILT app digital work instructions instead of paper instructions, the company shortened the process to less than 90 minutes—and only needed a single employee to complete the job instead of two.

“That’s good ROI for our distributor,” comments Quatela. The client has requested that Siemens make the BILT app available for other products.

As a bonus perk, distributors interested in improving their Net Promoter score (NPS) can see a boost by using BILT. “Any distributors using NPS can see their scores go much higher because they’re impacting their customers’ lives in a positive way,” says Quatela.

Revolutionizing the Game for Contractors

Siemens participated in the IDEAL National Championship, which featured teams of electricians competing against each other in timed product installations. The company provided contestants with the BILT app instead of traditional paper instructions to install their P5 panel—the largest footprint distribution panel in the Siemens panel family.

One of the contestants strongly objected to using the BILT app. “He was a seasoned contractor,” recalls Quatela. “He told me, ‘I don’t like this. I don’t get it. And I don’t need instructions.’ The guy said he just goes to job sites and figures things out on his own.”

After the competition ended, Quatela visited with the contractor. “His team performed wonderfully,” says Quatela. “But he told me that although he was so against using the BILT app, he couldn’t figure out how to complete this installation on his own. So, he caved.”

The contractor continued by telling Quatela, “This is unbelievable content. What you’re doing for the industry—especially for future generations of electricians—is paramount for the transfer of knowledge.”

Quatela was moved by those comments. “Hearing that just validated everything both Siemens and BILT are trying to achieve. And that’s to move the industry forward. It’s about an evolution—actually, a revolution—that’s trying to change the game.”

Investing in the Next Generation of Electricians

Quatela says the next generation of electricians are “digital natives” who prefer training based on virtual or augmented reality. For example, when onsite they want the ability to view assembly or installation processes through digital images.

“Everything our team tries to build is centered on teaching,” says Quatela. “Sure, there’s always a motivation for greater sales, revenue, and profitability. But if we can make that electrician smarter, safer, and more employable— whether it’s someone with 40 years of experience or a year-one apprentice—then we’re doing our job.”

Siemens & BILT: The Hub of Continuous Learning

Looking ahead, Quatela states Siemens must continue to listen to the individual needs of their customers and create customized content to remain a leader in this space. And the company will do so with the help of BILT.

“With BILT, we’re just scratching the surface,” says Quatela. “We have many other products on our roadmap and are also looking at getting BILT-based training into our manufacturing plants. We’re doing all this so our employees and customers can be smarter and safer to feel more secure that they’re doing everything the right way.”

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