Before the pandemic plagued the world, there was a steady influx of companies across diverse sectors pouring money into tools and technologies to help them better their function and processes. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, these breakthroughs slowed as keeping the business afloat became a top priority. According to a report, India's manufacturing sector witnessed a decline of over 9% in the fiscal year 2021, resulting from the economic slowdown from the impact of the pandemic. In the aftermath of the pandemic, manufacturing, like virtually all industries, was obliged to adapt its business operations quickly and profoundly. As manufacturing enterprises adopted technological advancements, the core layer transformed its four Ms – material, machines, methods and manpower. Today, technological breakthroughs are transforming the manufacturing process, from product research and development to quality assurance and everything in between. The use of blockchain technology is helping in improving supply chain management and Artificial Intelligence (AI), while the Internet of Things (IoT) is aiding in revolutionising quality control operations. Additionally, robotic and computer-controlled machinery leaves no room for error, thereby providing seamless deliveries.
The right support
While the MSMEs were trying to turn the tide in their favour during the pandemic, the Indian government has been equally vigilant in ensuring that MSMEs do not suffer. Through initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan’, the government is lending a hand to promote business and local manufacturing in the country, giving special thrust to MSMEs, who are also referred to as the backbone of the Indian economy. The central government, too, has taken immediate response measures in the form of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Package to ensure continuity of businesses during the pandemic, along with numerous schemes to support the budding manufacturing units across the country. The Ministry of MSME has been up to the task since last April, offering the MSME sector an amount of ₹3 lakh crores to help the industry in this crisis, while the government infused ₹50,000 crores as equity to MSMEs to increase the capacity as well as the size of MSMEs.
While the government backing has been crucial in getting the manufacturing business off the ground, releasing a new round of bolder and well-targeted reforms will propel the industry, aiming to create 100 million new jobs in the sector by 2022.
MSMEs tryst with tech
Although at a slow pace, Industry 4.0 has begun to gain traction in India's manufacturing, real estate, IT-ITes (Information Technology Enabled Services) and other sectors, with rapid adoption, with the COVID-19 pandemic hastening the digitisation process by at least a decade. Industries have realised that putting digital technology at the heart of everything can help them become more robust and respond faster to any setbacks. It has not only ushered in a new era of connected technologies and data-driven insights but there is a visible paradigm shift in how people work and interact too. We are a witness to how AI, mass automation, industrial connectivity, big data, robots and 3D Printing are among the cutting-edge technologies reshaping the global manufacturing scene.
While digital technologies can be a stimulus for disruptive growth, they can also be economical, with far-reaching implications for the overall economy, thus making the sector a bigger participant in the development of the Indian economy. Given the benefits Industry 4.0 can provide, it is critical for manufacturing industries to be aware of these trends as well as the pulse to meet new realities in the face of uncertain changes in the environment and client needs.
India is a desirable hub for manufacturing investments across the globe as the sector can reach $1 trillion by 2025. While this has driven several companies to establish their base here, others are considering this avenue. The sector has huge opportunities to grow as demand will continue to rise during the upcoming festive seasons. Businesses can leverage these opportunities by generating value for consumers. India must embrace Industry 4.0 to take advantage of the best that technology has to offer, even though it has only recently begun to make inroads in Indian manufacturing and other industries. Industry-wide, data-driven decision-making is becoming more common, before there is a shift in capability, there must be a movement in thinking. Rather than simply increasing capital expenditure, the focus should be on improving the existing asset base. Smart manufacturing, analytics, and IoT will place the manufacturing sector at the epicentre of India’s growth story.