What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and COVID-19 has been proving it quite literally. The pandemic unfolded a series of unprecedented events clashing with a rather underprepared/unprepared manufacturing industry. To understand and set precedents for the future, Publish Industry India, in association with Digital Transformation Partner – Siemens Industries Software, Connectivity Partner - Tata Teleservices, Industrial Safety Partner – Mallcom India, Knowledge Partner – BDB India and Association Partner – SME Chambers India, organised the virtual Manufacturing Business Forum 2021, which discussed the big picture post-pandemic for the manufacturing industry and the big ideas defining the year ahead. The event witnessed an amalgamation of industry stalwarts who indulged the audience with different perspectives on how the manufacturing sector can accelerate, ameliorate and automate.
Make more, earn more
The event began with Chandrakant Salunkhe, President, SME Chambers India, who opened with an address on ‘The big picture post-pandemic for SMEs’. “As our honourable PM said, we need to create world-class SME manufacturing units, which work in such a way that they can fulfil the requirements of the world market. Therefore, the SME sector and the manufacturing industry should focus more on how to tap the international market, how to avail the support services, incentives and schemes, how to go for trade finance and acquire the latest advanced, patent technologies and affordable technology for improved productivity,” he suggested. Next, Amitabh Pant, Vice President, BDB India, gave a keynote speech on ‘Performance Linked Incentives and its impact on the industries’. Explaining the key highlights of the PLI scheme, he expressed, “The incentive would help the existing facilities and customers to increase their capacity. It will not only increase the green field investments but also speed up the capacity expansions across all industries.”
Today meets tomorrow
Taking over was Nitin Malvadkar, Country Technical Manager – Mainstream Engineering, Siemens PLM Software, who elaborated about ‘Product development for SMB using digitalisation’. Discussing the business imperatives of adopting digitalisation, he mentioned, “There are three business imperatives that customers must embrace – first, maximising digitalisation by using digital twin; second, adopting a solution that is modern and can be personalised based on one’s requirement and third, working in an ecosystem that is open and flexible.”
A break from the presentations was the fireside chat on ‘The big picture post-pandemic’ that followed. Moderator Shekhar Jitkar, Publisher and Chief Editor, Publish Industry India, started the tête-à-tête with a question to the interlocutor Gautam Maini, MD, Maini Precision Products, on the post-pandemic industrial scenario. “The pandemic has reset the thinking process of most individuals. It has given time for the industry to rest, too. Organisations that have utilised this time to bring efficiency into the system will have a huge advantage now,” Maini responded. Retorting to Jitkar’s question on the big ideas in the year ahead for manufacturing to catch up with the growth momentum, collocutor Kranti Tata, MD – Manufacturing, GE Multi Modal Facility, GE Aviation, averred, “People are going to be very critical. As we go into the future, companies need to have a multi-scaled workforce to gauge their single points of failure and eliminate them. So, investing in people, empowering people and having empathy will be important. Also, what would be important is diversifying both customer and industries.” While commenting on the factors one should keep in mind while managing and sustaining growth in the coming years, panellist Neeraj Bisaria, MD & CEO, Premium Transmission, explained, “The first important thing is agility, second is the speed of adoption, and the third important thing is how competitive we are. We need to shift our focus internally to health & hygiene, making employees more agile, making monitoring/supervision more IT-enabled and increasing our productivity & first pass with competitive prices.”
Next, giving a technology presentation was Kathirvel Dhandapani, Deputy General Manager – SME Cluster Sales – Enterprise, Tata Teleservices. Elaborating on smart office solutions, he mentioned, “Smart office helps one set-up voice and data communication on a subscription model without having to invest on high Capex.”
A reroute from the presentation run was the panel discussion on ‘New normal for manufacturing operations’. Moderator Juili Eklahare, Features Writer, Publish Industry India, set off the conversation with a question on change in manufacturing operations post-pandemic in the new normal aimed at Vijay Kalra, Head – Mahindra Institute of Quality & Chairman – Central Safety Council. He remarked, “In the near future, while the problem may stay, we all will learn solutions to live with the problem. We, or rather businesses, have become binary, what will change due to the pandemic is that – one will either win or lose. And second, change is coming very fast, the sense of urgency, agility, flexibility to respond, etc will become important.” Next, elaborating on the technologies and trends defining manufacturing in the post-covid world, Sirisha A, GM, Head of Industrial Engineering, Continental, highlighted, “Due to COVID, decision making of the management has become critical. Proper decisions can be only made with the relevant data. So, as long as one has connected systems, data-driven decision making will now help in a very big way.” Suggesting on the dos and don’ts for the manufacturing professionals to emerge successful in the new normal, Thej Kumar, AVP - Operations, Toyoda Gosei South India, gave a tip, “Strategising or the HR approach, in terms of skill and the overall viewpoint, right from the top management to the shop floor people, there needs to be a dynamic shift in the way the people are considered in terms of upgrading the skills, of course, but also in human connect. So, dos will be more on human flexibility and human connection.”
Elevate, corroborate, resuscitate
Lastly, closing the event was the virtual interview of Kishore Jayaraman, President, Rolls-Royce, India & South Asia, led by Jitkar. Reverting to the question on the big picture in the post-pandemic industrial scenario, Jayaraman asserted, “When it comes to manufacturing, we will need to look at productivity, efficiency and most importantly, we will have to analyse what we did good before, how do we optimise, legitimise, etc as we go through 2021.” Adding on if the growth momentum exists and if it is sustainable, he cited, “The growth momentum does exist. People are making sense of the situation and are starting to become more confident and show some energy patterns which is driving the consumption pattern, which is driving the revival of the economy.” And lastly, commenting on the changing role of manufacturing leadership, Jayaraman highlighted, “Irrespective of the sector, today, it is important for leaders to have empathy than ever before. Considering the pandemic has affected health not just physically but mentally too, having an empathetic way of leading will have more effect rather than an outcome-driven leadership style.”
Outcome-driven for the future
The forum, all in all, highlighted the importance of having a rejuvenated perspective to run a manufacturing floor. The discussion heightened the importance of people, having an empathetic outlook, having technology on the front line of the shop floor and how companies, irrespective of their size, can move on despite the slump.