The rise of the Techno-wave
The 1800s defined the first wave of mechanisation – when steam and water were used as energy. Nearly 100 years later, the 1900s bore witness to electrification – where the use of electrical tools formed the basis of manufacturing. The pace of progress sped up from the second to third revolution in manufacturing, as the late 1970s saw the emergence of computerisation. While the first three phases are ornaments of a past era; Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), connected device and analytics form the core of Industry 4.0 which enables higher productivity in manufacturing and also ensures greater response to consumer needs.
Traditional production lines that included robots to work repetitively on pre-programmed tasks are becoming history. Today, industrial robots are running independently and coordinating seamlessly with the entire supply chain using technologies such as machine learning and AI.
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. 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.
While fully-connected factories will take a few more years to see widespread adoption, companies in India too are taking baby steps to embrace smart manufacturing, as sensors, cobots and software take charge of factory floors. Global companies like Mondelez, Bosch, Siemens and GE have taken the leap and are operating with smart factories in India.
Network Provider, Juergen Hase, CEO, Unlimit, Reliance Group said, “Several large-scale Indian manufacturing units have started investing in advanced technology to transform their traditional factories into smart-connected factories.” He further added that since digitisation will be the driving force towards Industry 4.0 manufacturers should appoint a Chief Innovation Officer, acquire new technological capabilities, develop new products with pioneering features and collaborate with an organisation with similar goals and strategies.
“The elements of Industry 4.0 offer unique opportunities to Indian manufacturers to be more efficient and competitive while offering superior customer experience,” said Pankaj Bhardwaj, CEO of Fortune 500 Avery Dennison, manufacturer and distributor of adhesives, labels and tags. “There are enough specific areas that can unlock value through IOT and data analytics. Warehouse management, connected planning, energy efficiency and Robotic Process Automation have well established use cases and are lower hanging fruits.”
As businesses plan to make the shift to Industry 4.0, they must evaluate how major digital investments impact the top line or bottom line of their performance and device concrete strategies for measuring RoI.
Gungo about retrofits, Ali Hosseini, CEO, SenRa shared, “We deploy LoRaWAN end-to-end solutions. We are working with our customers to develop retrofit solutions which can work on their existing equipment and provide real-time feedback on equipment health, output, and maintenance. This provides decision makers data points to make strategic business decisions to improve operational efficiencies.”
On a more cautionary note, Rakesh Malhotra, Founder, Sar Group, a leading power product company said, “Investment outlays can be large, paybacks uncertain and not enough practical expertise even with big name consulting companies. To build an Industry 4.0 ecosystem in India, vertical specific deep use cases need to be developed along with machine level data collection. We will need many local champion solution providers to make this happen.”
Tech enabler Daifuku India, Head, Asim Behera added, “India is a price sensitive country and whilst the general belief is that manufacturing cost is low, it’s not totally true. Once you add in the additional cost of infrastructure, taxes, compliances and given that for most Indian manufacturers the market size is limited to India, the cost of manufacturing is high. Because it’s a price sensitive country the margins are wafer thin. To this, adoption of Industry 4.0 will obviously add cost and in many cases, it will be difficult to have a viable business case. Also, as with every technology adoption, human capital also needs to be enhanced alongside, which is a challenge for us.”
Looking ahead 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.
(Edited by Anu Choudary)
Originally Published in BDO Newsletter Tiffin:
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