Even with all the advances in technology, when it comes to successful product development planning, organisations still need to understand the ways in which they can be highly efficient. In a time where disruptions are rampant, it is important to know how digital technologies ingrain themselves into the process of product planning and maintenance. Keeping this in mind Publish Industry India, in association with Siemens Industry Software, recently organised a four-part series of virtual interactive sessions, which highlighted how one can reduce the time-to-market while ensuring product reliability, how digitalisation can help achieve operations & quality excellence today and more.
Part one – Efficient product development in challenging times
The first part of the series was on ‘Efficient product development in challenging times’, which began with the guest address by Rajesh Sharma, Director – Manufacturing Excellence, Whirlpool India. He asserted, “In terms of product development post the pandemic, whatever we design, more voice will be given to the focus on health and safety of the workforce. Moreover, manufacturing excellence will play a very big role.” It was then time for a technology presentation by Nitin Malvadkar, Country Technical Manager – Mainstream Engineering, Siemens Industry Software, who presented on the topic ‘Product development for SMB using digitalisation’. “Digitalisation represents a great opportunity for small to medium businesses,” he said & continued, “Small-medium businesses shouldn’t assume that the digital twin is not for them and they should be agile and quick to adopt.”
Flexibility has to be generated
Shortly after, the panel discussion took place on ‘Leveraging digitalisation in the current challenging times’, which was moderated by Shekhar Jitkar, Chief Editor, Publish Industry India. The discussion started with Jitkar pointing out that this era will be marked by extremely agile organisations because of the advanced technologies. He then shot his first question at Sanjay Binaykya, Assistant Vice President – Manufacturing, National Engineering Industries, asking him how Indian manufacturing organisations can be better prepared while restarting manufacturing operations, with constraints like social distancing and cost reduction pressure. To this, Binaykya responded, “One’s systems should be agile enough to adopt. So, flexibility in the system has to be generated and the shift is required from cutting fixed costs to make it a more variable cost.” Jitkar then turned to V Nagesh, Director, Cosmos Impex (India), asking him to share his thoughts as well on how manufacturers can ensure the continuity of business with the current restrictions, to which Nagesh replied that all the departments are interconnected. “So, if an unprecedented situation like this arises, one should put his/her people in such kinds of formations that even if one person is hit by it, then at least 50-70% of the teams can still function,” he maintained.
COVID-19 – A wake-up call
Moving on to the technology part, Jitkar posed his next question to Maulik Patel, Executive Director, Sahajanand Laser Technology, asking him what the role of emerging technologies would be in continuing the same efficiency & profitably as earlier. Patel averred that the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call to adopt Industry 4.0. “We adopted digitisation by digitising the manual tasks. Furthermore, we are developing Industry 4.0 solutions for our customers & ourselves,” he cited. Taking the discussion forward with Malvadkar, Jitkar asked how organisations can understand how relevant a particular technology is for their business. Malvadkar answered, “There is multiple data online for organisations to find what and how relevant a technology is to them. Also, we have to start looking at enhancing the ROI first, which can be done by integrating innovation with the business, by being faster to the market and more.”
Part two – Managing product development complexities
The second part of the series was on ‘Managing product development complexities in challenging times’, which kicked off with the guest address by T K Ramesh, Managing Director & CEO, Ace Micromatic. He said that innovation is the key for any business to succeed in challenging & complex times. “Right now, the thought process is about customer experience over the entire product lifecycle,” he affirmed.
This was followed by a technology presentation by Malvadkar, who presented on the topic ‘Managing product development complexities using digitalisation’. He mentioned the three keys to use complexity as a competitive advantage, i.e. using digital twin, adopting a modern & personalised solution and working in an ecosystem that is open & flexible. Giving some takeaways, he revealed, “Organisations should focus on improvement and look for areas where digital transformation can support their key priorities.”
Understanding the changing market scenario
The session then moved on to the panel discussion on ‘Managing product development complexities in challenging times’, which was moderated by Jitkar, who started off my informing that in the current scenario, adjusting operations in real-time calls for a new approach to everything that’s done. He put his first question to Shirish Divgi, MD, Milacron India, asking him how the time-to-market can be reduced & products can be launched faster. To this, Divgi responded, “We have many good softwares that can test the product/part. In design, we need all-rounders, who know the manufacturing & product applications, who will help in reducing the time-to-market.” Jitkar then turned to Sameer Kelkar, CEO and R&D Head, Grind Master, asking him how design complexities & product development cost can be managed across the value chain. “If the correct solution is being developed, it can get down the development time significantly,” Kelkar answered and added, “Understanding the changing market scenario is a key challenge in today’s volatile scenario.”
Shooting his next question at Malvadkar, Jitkar asked him to throw light on the technology perspective, in terms of optimising the total cost of ownership. Malvadkar explained, “As an organisation, one should think of depriving a tool which can help do what took him/her normally three months manually to three days.”
People will have to adopt new technologies
Turning to Dr Vishwas Puttige, Business Head, amace solutions, Jitkar posed him the question, if there has been a change in the approach towards the adoption of digitalisation technologies because of the pandemic. “It might have slowed down but people are using this time to explore how they can leverage the technologies,” Puttige responded and went on, “People will have to adopt these new technologies – it’s not an option.”
Part three – Managing competitive challenges with efficient product development
While part one and two deliberated on product development and complexities of product development, part three was all about ’Managing competitive challenges with efficient product development using digitalisation’.
The line-up began with the introductory guest address by Dr A Balamurugan, Director, Growth Hacking Partners, who elaborated on ‘Important digital techniques that can help product development across the world’. During his session, he advised, “Smart products will keep competitors at bay, at least for a while. It is important that while adopting digitalisation we do not forget the conventional wisdom to gain a competitive advantage in product development.” Next, Malvadkar addressed the audience on ‘Managing competitive challenges using digitalisation’ focusing on how digitalisation can help MSMEs. He asserted, “Manufacturers who can introduce products to the market ahead of its competitors, not only benefit from increased profitability but also increased market share.”
Collaborating, adopting and competing
To gain deeper insights on the strategy and approach the industry should entail to respond to the changes and remain competitive, Jitkar moderated a panel discussion on ‘Managing competitive challenges with efficient product development’. He posed his first question to the panellist, B C Rao, Managing Director, Kennametal India, on how brand loyalty has changed during the current times and the nuances of customers retainment. To this, Rao responded, “The Indian consumer is more likely to be loyal to the demand fulfilment and authenticity of brands than being brand loyal during the current times. Revisiting one’s values & purpose and upgrading the digital offering is the key to success.” Following this, connoting on how to identify, understand and manage trade-offs to increase product success, Viraj Kalyani, CEO, Kalyani Studio, stated, “Old business models that are being challenged due to the crisis need to focus on slowing down, assessing the whole landscape and not make any hasty moves; companies/OEMs/businesses that had foreseen and are working towards digitalisation right now have an opportunity to speed up. They should go full throttle with the ideas/products they are working on and increase their investments and speed to market.” Contributing his thoughts on managing competition from local & global suppliers, Malvadkar stated, “Virtual collaboration is going to be a key aspect in managing competition, especially during the current times where people are working from home. Now is the time to identify, adapt and embrace change and digital solutions.” Opining on cash conservation and investment in new technologies during the current times, Kedar Deshpande, Managing Director, Umasons Auto Compo, mentioned, “Despite digitalisation being a costly investment, over a period of time, it’s a cost-reducing & time-saving investment. Every year companies should keep aside funds to invest in new technologies because ultimately, technologies help in surviving the difficult situations.” In totality, the discussion explained digitalisation is for everyone, including small businesses. While the pandemic might continue for some more time, businesses need to strategise to be adept at the services they are offering and use technologies to their best.
Part four – Product development enabling shorter time to market and maximum ROI
The final part of the series, part four, divulged into tackling the challenges and managing competition using digitalisation with the virtual session - ‘Addressing all the aspects of the product development process with digitalisation technologies’. The sessions were kickstarted by the guest addresser, Dr Harish Pant, Managing Director, Advance Technologies, who elaborated on ‘Digital transformation – A trillion-dollar opportunity’. Via the address, he focused on the micro-points that would affect the technical aspects of manufacturing from the top floor to the shop floor. Pant asserted, “Value creation on the shop floor, the way we used to run our operations & business processes, has now undergone a massive change. Now, with digitalisation, it is possible to slice the business from one end to the other, click by click.”
Following this ensued a dynamic discussion between Jitkar and Malvadkar, who discussed the role of emerging technologies and how Solid Edge, a Siemens solution, can help in addressing the growing end-user demand for customised products and meet the demand for intelligent products, offer analysis solutions for a lower cost and the capabilities of the solution that can help manufacturing industries.
Investing and innovating to maintain value
Finally, bringing an end to the series was a panel discussion that brought into the light, with case studies on, how Solid Edge helped businesses meet the challenges in customer requirements, industry necessity and design parameters. Panellist, Rajinder Singh, Deputy GM, Engineering, Exicom Power Solutions, mentioned, “One of the major pain areas for us is customer expectation of immediate release of product design. And Solid Edge, with its synchronous technology, is helping us take care of it.” Responding to the question on how SMEs can adopt digitalisation for the future, panellist, Promod Kalyani, CEO, Kalson Engineering, conveyed, “Small businesses need to be prepared to create a knowledge pipeline, where one can retain all their knowledge digitally so that it’ll be easy for new engineers to go through it and become productive.” Speaking about leveraging technology during budget cuts, Malvadkar said, “Organisations need to deploy technological tools, which can help them reduce the time engaged in production considerably, thereby, reducing the time-to-market. The time saved deploying these tools needs to be invested in innovating further for the market.”
Comprehensive knowledge for success
With its four-part series, Siemens Industry software, in association with Publish Industry India, was able to address the potential and role of technology in the process of product development, various complexities and challenges of the process and how the right approach to technology can bring maximum ROI to the investment and reduce the time to market for both big industries and MSMEs & help companies to be at par with global competition.