India has seen a subtle growth in its industrial sectors regarding the reception of Industry 4.0 but with its average level of digitisation of approximately 10% across various sectors, it is still far behind compared to global industries. However, the interest levels from enterprises for digital technologies is undeniable in our country. This is especially true for Bharuch in Gujarat, which has a noteworthy industrial base in significant sectors like, chemical, petrochemical, textile, pharmaceuticals and shipbuilding and offers a prolific mix of industrial sectors. In this context, the Rockwell Automation Conference on ‘Digital Transformation Driving Business Outcomes,’ was held recently at Bharuch, to discuss the various challenges, opportunities and benefits of adopting pristine technologies.
IT and OT convergence
The event commenced with the warm words of the welcome address delivered by Abanibushan Bera, Regional End User Manager - Western Region, Rockwell Automation. Shortly after, the first session began with a remarkable presentation on ‘Why Businesses need to digitally transform – Your Future is Here’ presented by RN Mohanty, President — Technology, Pidilite Industries. This was followed by another attention-grabbing address given by Abhay Dubey, Industry Manager — Rockwell Automation India & Asia Pacific, who explicated the topic of the Connected Process Plant and shared with the audience its trends and a few success stories.
The session then turned its attention towards IT and OT convergence. Under this topic, AK Agarwal, CEO — BDMA and S M Thakor, Additional General Manager, GNFC, and Chairman, IT Forum, BDMA, acquainted the audience with this IIoT convergence in their presentation, ‘Two Worlds converging in Industrial IoT’. Highlighting the importance of the asset management and maintenance, Bharat Sridhar, Principal Consultant — Digital Manufacturing I4.0, ITC Infotech, propounded on its enhancement through the strategic use of data in his presentation.
The challenges and opportunities in mobility, infrastructure and cyber security in process-centric industries were all consequently addressed by Jagdish Pranami, Deputy GM — Electrical and Instrumentation, SRF. This ultimately gave way to the concluding remarks for the first session put forth by P Raghu, Industry Manager—Chemical, Oil & Gas, Rockwell Automation India.
Driving business outcomes
The second session of the fastidious conference commenced with the much-awaited panel discussion on the theme of ‘Digital Transformation Driving Business Outcomes’. The main objective of this discussion was to elucidate on how digital transformation can make a difference in operations and in turn, in the business.
The esteemed panellists for the discussion were Jagdish Pranami; Kantilal Malvania, GM — Project Instrumentation, Grasim Cellulose; Abhay Dubey and Sandeep Redkar, Business Manager, Process Solutions, Rockwell Automation India. The panel discussion was moderated by Suchi Adhikari, Senior Sub-editor, A&D India magazine.
To place a company in a league where it can compete globally, the key is to embrace solutions that will help steer an organisation towards its maximum potential and growth. As competing globally is an important aspect in today’s market for any venture, the moderator rightfully pointed out that digital transformation must be seriously considered by all, the big corporate companies as well as the SME sector. Consequently, the panel deliberated on the issues of a comprehensive roadmap towards digital transformation implementation, the various aspects involved in executing it and ways to ensure ROI in the long-term.
The discussion was initiated with the topics of technology adoption levels in digitalisation in the industry with the implementation of advanced industry concepts, such as, industry 4.0 and IIoT. Over its course, themes such as, the short-term and long-term challenges in digitalisation, the prospects of supply chain and security were also discussed.
Technology adoption levels
Opening the discussion on technology adoption levels, Malvania cited, “This is just the initialisation, not the globalisation.” He emphasised the adoption of technology on each level by addressing the various digital machines used in a plant for digital printing, online data monitoring with the intranet, etc, which can be controlled and monitored remotely by connecting it to the main network. He also addressed the initial challenges but affirmed, “Everything is available online today. Every market and production is designed, defined and monitored remotely.” To deal with the long term challenge of infrastructure, Malvania explicated the initiation of the digital training systems to train the people, feed an ideal data into the database of servers, and achieve operational excellence through it.
Following this, Pranami brought to attention the average level of digitisation in various industries and commented that it should be at a higher level than the present level of 7% to 10%. Addressing the challenge presented by infrastructure, he mentioned how combining data from all the plants could pose a challenge to adopt IIoT, in case every plant has a different language, which can be resolved by networking. Subsequently, he explicated that assets and their management is very important and initially, the companies had not been well-aware or sincere about its safety.
The global perspective on the adoption of Industry 4.0 or digitisation was put forward by Abhay Dubey. While many multinational companies have a high degree of adoption — having a specific digitalisation department, which will only focus on the digitalisation aspect — it is unclear as to what kind of investments and what kind of returns they are going to get back. Additionally, he spoke on skill upgradation and highlighted that it is a continuous process. He explained, “In your digitisation journey, it is extremely important for your staff to be upgraded as far as their skills are concerned,” and also laid importance on developing the right mindset and culture in the company to aid digitisation.
As digitisation requires a substantial amount of investment, Dubey also quoted the factors, which according to him would achieve the ROI required, “I would sum it up in three factors — one would be the people, second would be the processes around it and third would be the technology.” On the implementation roadmap of digitisation, he stressed that it can attain success if the blueprint is undertaken in small baby steps. He suggested, “Have a proof of concept done, have a pilot on a small project before you jump on to the entire blueprint or put the whole investments together.”
Next, Redkar spoke briefly about cyber security and explained the importance of drawing a base document on how to tackle threats and understand specifically the cyber security threats to counter in the solutions that you implement, which can thus, be cost-effective. He spoke about the stages of ensuring data security and shared, “Security has to be prevalent across the system; it is not a point solution.” He further addressed the importance of automation systems as it takes away the uncertainty of how the production was done and gives a genealogy for every product, and explained, “A manufacturing execution system can look at all the different aspects, right from the material coming in to the finished goods going out and trying to give one uniform picture of how production is operating in your plant.”
On the topic of investment regarding IIoT, Redkar elucidated the three aspects which stand out — the first one is productivity yield and quality improvement, the second maintainability and Predictive Maintenance, and the third the use of AR and VR. Further, suggesting a roadmap, he observed, “You will have process engineers to help you along the way — what are the specific measurements that will help to model that peak hour performance properly and derive some observations out of that.”
The session reached its conclusion with an indispensible addition from Suchi Adhikari on the objectives of operational productivity, global competency and sustainable operations. She added, “Gain an understanding of what is important to you and start taking baby steps towards a greater objective of achieving a digital enterprise.” Digital transformation must be considered as a possible solution, which will help access Big Data, analyse the data, provide insights on hidden inefficiencies and help to streamline the ventures towards its maximum growth and potential.
Technologies and transformations
The final session for the conference focussed on the technologies and transformations that come with implementing digitalisation. The vision of Industry 4.0 in the chemical and process industry was expounded on by Ramesh Dham, AGM — Industry 4.0, UPL. Taking up the topic of infrastructure required with the onset of digitalisation, Ankur Pancholi, Product Manager — Large Control, IO & Network Security, Rockwell Automation India, spoke on ‘Secure Network Architecture for the Digital Plant’.
The latter half of the session saw the presentation on ‘What to Expect from a Modern DCS in Digital Era’ delivered by Redkar. This was followed by the presentation on ‘Rethinking Motor Control in a Digital Age’ by Jayesh Joisher, Power Control, Area Manager, Rockwell Automation, who imparted invaluable knowledge to the audience, as the conference drew close to its end. The final session concluded with the conclusive remarks for the event given by Komal Shah, Channel Sales Manager — Western Region, Rockwell Automation India. Thus, the conference proved to be a greatly insightful one, with its exchange of perspectives, from the end-users to the solution providers, and highlighted the benefits for industries with the inculcation of digital machinery in its plants.