Spread across five acres of land, Schneider Electric recently inaugurated its second smart factory facility in Jigani, Bengaluru, India. With an aim of not being just India-for-India but India for the globe, the plant visit began off with a brief interaction with Anil Choudhury, Zone President & MD – India, Schneider Electric; Javed Ahmad, Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain – India, Middle East and South Africa, Schneider Electric; Mourad Tamoud, Executive Vice President – Global Supply Chain, Schneider Electric and Luc Remont, Executive Vice President – International Operations, Schneider Electric. The factory is smart and integrated with digital tools such as Augmented Reality, empowering operators to gain visibility into operations and maintenance, driving 10% reduction in mean time to repair critical equipment. Commenting on the launch of their latest facility, Choudhary emphasised, “It is going to entrench our commitment of bringing in more efficiency, more productivity and more sustainable and eco-friendly products into the Indian market, benefitting the industries driving its upgradation to Industry 4.0.” Remarking on their ambition pertaining to India, Remont added, “Our aim is to be an essential contributor to India in our field of expertise, which is technology, and use it to bring energy management and digital manufacturing.”
Integrating smart with operations
During the visit IDF 4 & 5 of Schneider Electric, Devadas Shetty, Vice President, Supply Chain Performance – GSC India, MEA, Schneider Electric, began off by giving a short history of the factory that has been running unceasingly for the past 17-18 years. The factory is now a fully functioning digital/smart factory with some of the latest equipment and technologies available in the industry. The Jigani plant of Schneider is also their official innovation centre, providing a one stop meld of their entire range of solutions and products. Commenting on the innovation hub, Shetty mentioned, “All our factories are ‘smart factories’ but when you talk about the innovation hub, it is here.”
The hub showcases a variety of EcoStruxure solutions offered by the company. EcoStruxure, an IoT enabled solution that empowers one to improve energy and operational efficiency, is offered to four end-markets, i.e. building, data centre, industry and infrastructure. It comprises various latest products/solutions offered by Schneider Electric, like connected products that create value with smart & intelligent devices; Edge Computing control systems, which helps one control the product real time and apps & analytical services that can integrate any hardware and control system. For example, the EcoStruxure Plant, one of the offerings amongst the other solutions provided under EcoStruxure, supports sensors and devices that can be connected wirelessly, which helps users to monitor, troubleshoot and control systems, sitting at one place. “This smart factory demonstrates how the digitalisation of industrial environment using EcoStruxure can optimise the process for both, production & end-to-end supply chain operation and takes energy efficiency to a whole new level,” mentioned Tamoud.
Aside from the ExcoStruxure Plant, the innovation hub also had a ready-to-explain prototype of an intelligent conveyor system, named the EcoStruxure Machine. The prototype demonstrated how OEMs can improve their productivity with real time data over the cloud, helping their customers take immediate corrective action that in turn avoids a breakdown, turning maintenance from reactive to preventive. The experience centre adjoining the innovation hub presented the EcoStruxure IT Expert and Advisor & Asset Advisor solution offered by Schneider, that would help customers get maximum ROI & actionable insights to make future decisions and simplify company operations.
Bringing in smart behaviour
One aspect of smart factory is having smart and connected technology, but another aspect is bringing in ‘smart behaviour’ in people to operate these technologies. To inculcate smart behaviour, a training place is of absolute necessity. For the same, Schneider Electric has created a training hall ‘Disha’, to educate its workforce beyond what they have studied in their colleges or curriculum. The centre, Disha, essentially meaning direction in Sanskrit, indeed has been built into a quintessential platform for making pathways to train people to be technologically well equipped. “It is not only about connected products but also about connected people,” explained Shetty.
To ensure only a knowledge equipped employee makes it to the training floor, Schneider, at their training management centre, conducts a preliminary test for the people who come in, followed by an induction of two-days where the classroom training is given, subsequently an induction assessment and practical training is given, which is continued by an on-the-job training and certification. The company also provides multi-skilling and versatility training, under which the personnel is trained to work in multiple stages and become versatile. “Here, along with deploying a lot of the latest digital technologies for production operations, we are also utilising the latest technologies to train our workforce. We train all our workforce using Virtual Reality (VR) and then bring them on to the actual shop floor,” accentuated Ahmad. Using VR, the trainees go through an experience of immersive learning wherein, he/she confronts with what to expect on the production line. The training centre also has a separate section where the employee/trainee learns about the 5S of shop floor, part numbering, quality system mapping, etc. The training lab essentially brings down the learning curve from 21 days to 16 days. As an added advantage of the multi-skilling training provided to employees, the company ensues a job rotation every six months to make certain that the employees are equipped with more skills and can avoid mundaneness.
The training centre being an absolute replication of the plant shop floor provides physical safety demonstrations as well as demonstration of customer centric situations ensuring that the workers have the vigilance and sensitivity to make certain that their products are on the mark. The Centre of Digital Innovation at Disha trains their drivers & forklift operators using VR, and once they have a collated data of their performance, they send the workers onto the shop floor according to their results.
Increasing efficiency & uptime
For Schneider Electric, ensuring the uptime of its data centre is pivotal to prevent it from hampering the company’s reputation and overall business. To ensure this, the company has built Customer Process Capabilities (CPC) throughout its entire plant and processes. The factory’s test lab, a critical part of their production, consumes close to seven megawatts of power, has 21 bases, tests around 25 units of 500kVA of UPS and has one of the highest uptimes compared to other plants. “We are moving more and more from design, build and operate to design, build, operate & maintain, because we want to manage and optimise our CapEx and also have the ability to run our processes in an efficient way,” mentioned Tamoud.
The subsequent unit of the factory is equipped with Deployment Dashboards for shop floor management that monitor and deploy the right resources to the right station to ensure good quality production with high efficiency. It also helps managers to monitor the work performance of each individual working at the station and assures an end-to-end connection throughout the unit line. To ensure continuous production, to monitor the efficiency of production line, to prioritise production as per customer requirement, for easy communication between the production line and warehouse, a Lean Digitisation System (LDS) has been implemented all over the factory.
Driving futuristic solutions
The second smart factory of Schneider demonstrates how the company has been steadily increasing their drive of offering process automation while reinforcing the company’s contribution to the government’s ideology of ‘Make in India’. This new smart factory further strengthens their impact to Industry 4.0 agenda in India, by providing customers with a showcase of benefits of industrial digital transformation, including enhanced performance, increased reliability and safety, remote monitoring and maintenance. Schneider Electric, through its disruptive innovation, has effectively brought in digital manufacturing into India.