From smartphones to smart cities, technology has played a major role in advancing most areas of our everyday lives – but it is also transforming the world of manufacturing. The article is in the context of “Anatomy and Adoption of Smart Manufacturing”
Industry 4.0 is the label given to the evolving combination of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices with the cutting edge technologies which are emerging on the horizon today.
These include using large-scale Machine-to-Machine (M2M), Internet of Things (IoT), AI & Big Data deployments to enable higher productivity in manufacturing which also ensures greater response to consumer needs.
Factories are becoming increasingly automated, self-monitoring and self-correcting as their machines are acquiring the ability to analyse and communicate with each other and their human co-workers.
History So Far
The first industrial revolution was of course the mechanisation of manufacturing in the 18th century, with the arrival of water and steam power in Britain’s factories, while the second industrial revolution started in the US with electronic equipment, power plants and mass production with an assembly line.
It started with meat production [in Cincinnati, USA] and then motor cars with Ford Model T. It went into shipyards, metal production and everything else. But it was linear, industry-specific and moved slowly.
Industry 3.0’ started in the 1970s and was heralded by the arrival of IT into the factory. Indeed, it is arguably still ongoing.
Industry 4.0 is characterised by IoT, Big Data, Smart Algorithms, Robotics, 3D printing, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Cyber-physical systems. Industrial machines will all speak to each other and share data which can be analysed for the business and to make real-time, automated decisions.
With Germany as one of its birth places, the Industry 4.0 is expected to completely transform industries all over the world.
Traditional production lines with robots that repetitively worked on pre-programmed information will be a thing of the past. Industrial robots of the future will run autonomously and coordinate seamlessly with the entire supply chain using technologies such as machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence).
Machines, once considered purely a physical asset and a part of inventory, are now becoming a business asset that effectively contribute to business goals. For instance, one automaker used data from its online configurator together with purchasing data to identify options that customers are willing to pay a premium for in their cars. With this knowledge, it removed low priority options. Development time and production costs fell dramatically.
Interconnected smart machines have already transformed the shop floor. M2M integration enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) has become a critical factor in capturing and extrapolating clean data to optimise productivity and streamline processes within factories. An African gold mine found ways to capture incremental data from its sensors. New data showed some unsuspected fluctuations in oxygen levels during leaching, a key process. Fixing this increased yield by 3.7 percent, worth up to $20 million annually.
Machine-as-a-Service (MaaS) is becoming another force to reckon with, offering real-time data across departments and keeping a check on the ROI. IoT enabled embedded sensors in automobiles and MRI machines stream data, optimising maintenance tasks in real time and predicting system failures proactively.
Logistics company Knapp AG, using augmented reality, has developed Human-machine interface picking technology through which Pickers wear a headset that presents vital information on a see-through display, helping them locate items more quickly and precisely.
Local Motors builds cars almost entirely through 3-D printing, with a design crowdsourced from an online community. It can build a new model from scratch in a year, far less than the industry average of six.
While fully-connected factories will take a few more years to see widespread adoption, companies in India too are taking baby steps with the latest in smart manufacturing, as sensors, cobots and software take charge of factory floors.
Leveraging India’s supportive ecosystem of 80 per cent telecom coverage of 4G, 3G, highly developed information technology infrastructure, potentially large skilled workforce age 28 or under and Government of India’s Make in India initiative to increase manufacturing GDP from current 16% to 25%, global companies have introduced pilot projects in India on Industry 4.0. Mondelez India’s Cadbury plant in Andhra Pradesh’s Sri City, German auto-component maker Bosch’s Bidadi plant, Siemens’s factory in Kalwa, Mumbai, GE’s precision engineering factory at Chakan, near Pune are all smart factories. In fact GE factory is a step ahead: it is a shared factory. It is GE’s only multi-modal facility in the world that caters to multiple high-tech products for multiple industry segments.
Among the Indian large companies Hero MotoCorp’s Global Parts Centre in Neemrana, Rajasthan, comes close to being a smart plant. Reliance Industries (Jamnagar complex), Asian Paints (Khandala, Mysore and Rohtak plants), L&T heavy engineering facilities at Hazira, Powai, Ranoli, Taleagaon and Coimbatore for defence, aerospace and nuclear industries, already conform to Industry 4.0 specifications. For instance, L&T uses real time data of plant and machinery from its construction sites to improve performance. Digital engineering and design, satellite-assisted surveys, safety training with virtual reality, radio-frequency identification (RFID) to track manpower and material movement, are among the steps that are part of the change taking place across L&T’s verticals. The company is also setting up an Analytics Centre of Excellence.
As per Deloitte’s latest report, nearly 72 percent Indian executives say they will extensively train their current employees, compared to only 43 percent globally, and 55 percent say they are doing everything they can to create a workforce for Industry 4.0 versus 47 percent of global executives.
Advances & Roadblocks
Though most estimates put India at the level of Industry 2.0 in manufacturing, progressive Indian manufacturers are beginning to invest in automation and digital technologies to make their production, distribution, supply chain, and servicing functions more robust. This in turn is giving rise to other new businesses – from start-ups selling products and solutions, to big system integrators finding a goldmine in helping factories turn digital. Start-ups, particularly, have mushroomed in industrial IoT, smart energy management and robotics.
Government of India has set up four centres to facilitate SMEs implement Industry 4.0. The centre in Pune has come together to create awareness, skill training, consultancy support and R&D for 5,000 companies for faster adoption and integration of new modern technologies in automobiles and machine tools sector. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is building India’s first smart factory in Bengaluru with a seed funding from the Boeing Company.
However, there are road blocks.
McKinsey reports that process inefficiencies and a lack of quality control are widely prevalent in Indian manufacturing industries and they lag behind global averages in “Quality Systems and Processes”. Half of Indian manufacturing companies do not even return their cost of capital.
Technology adoption and automation through ERP systems is available in many manufacturing companies. However, such systems have been relegated to non-core activities such as inventory, ordering, invoicing and billing. Core manufacturing processes are still labour intensive.
Relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) tracked by managers are manually computed ‘offline’, leading to delays that affect data-driven decision making. This leads to inefficiencies manifested as non-availability of material or skilled personnel, quality variance, output unpredictability or unplanned downtime of machines.
Several of the manufacturers are overwhelmed by IIoT technologies, further exacerbated by a lack of convincing return on investment or business value to justify investments.
On a positive note, the early Industry 4.0 adopters like Bosch say that there is a clear and quick RoI since hardware cost is falling, cobots are cheaper than traditional robots and more reliable, plus you don’t need 10 people to maintain a robot any longer.
The Way Forward
The world has committed itself to Smart Manufacturing and is resolutely moving towards it.
A forward-looking philosophy, investment in R&D, and skilled workforce along with a robust human-machine interface will be some of the key differentiators for manufacturers embarking on connected factories.
Due to its circumstance, India missed the first two industrial revolutions. But it un-selfconsciously rode the globalization tide and capitalized on the 3rd. Thanks to its IT sector, and should stay at the helm of things in the 4th Industrial revolution.
The early adopters of Industry 4.0 will have the early-mover advantage, while those who fear to take the risk could become irrelevant and be left behind.
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