As far as demand is concerned, from the consumption data for the last 30 years, it is observed that a progressive shift of consumption of goods & services has happened from western economies to emerging economies. Consumer needs are changing, and in the globalised internet era, an average consumer in any market has a lot of information at their fingertips while taking any purchase decision. Hyper-competitive environments are also leading to more and more innovation and new product launches. On the subject of sustainability, over the last 60 years, our consumption of depleting natural resources has reached an alarming rate. Our current approach of unbridled takeout from finite sources of natural resources is certainly unsustainable.
In terms of hybrid technology, the automotive industry is probably on the cusp of transformative change – from traditional IC engine-driven automobiles to hybrid/EV/fuel cell. These changes are driven by environmental concerns across the globe. On productivity, although manufacturing activities in emerging economies were triggered by labour cost arbitrage, today it’s no longer so – more and more of it is being driven by overall productivity and cost of manufacturing. Digitisation trends demonstrate that the development of advanced CAD/CAM, machineries controlled by CNC systems, etc has transformed the way typical manufacturing happens around the world. Development of cloud-based data management and computing has made physical locations irrelevant. Some of the highly advanced manufacturing companies around the world are leveraging this virtual convergence to drive lower costs and higherm efficiency. It is just not an option anymore, rather an imperative in these times.
In terms of Industry 4.0 and data analytics, the cost of sensors & sensor capabilities are changing rapidly. Today, it is possible to put a low-cost sensor to monitor all critical activities in a manufacturing facility. This enables managers to track the real-time data. These data combined with suitable data analytics will enable management to take operational decisions backed by data. This has the potential to significantly improve operational efficiency of manufacturing industry. A key factor will be to develop people within the organisation to be able to use data/analytics effectively to take business decisions. Organisations need to start exposing their key workforce in this direction so as to reap the best of the potential of Industry 4.0. Organisations with people skilled to use and analyse Big Data and take business decisions fast would have a significant competitive edge.
We are living in interesting times, witnessing big transformational changes in several key components of our business— changes including, but not limited, to the above. The manufacturing industry needs to be flexible and adapt to the changing needs. Technology will play a major role in this journey. Organisations with significant intellectual property and dynamic leadership are likely to have an edge over the rest.
This is a guest editorial feature by L Krishnan, Managing Director, TaeguTec India