The Ethernet POWERLINK Standardisation Group, in collaboration with B&R Industrial Automation, ABB Robotics, Utthunga and Tata Technologies recently held a virtual conference titled 'Smart Industry Conference 2021'. The sixth edition of the flagship conference was designed to benefit the Indian manufacturing companies that are shaping Industry 4.0. Frost & Sullivan was the knowledge partner of the conference. The one-day virtual conference was held on August 19, 2021 and was attended by more than one hundred delegates. Attendees from across the manufacturing ecosystem witnessed various topics covering technology, innovation and open communication standards. The core agenda of the conference was to look beyond the cutting edge to inspire the Indian manufacturers and construct the next level of Industry 4.0.
Through its keynote address, three presentations and one panel discussion, the conference provided a platform for the challenges and solutions of smart industry implementation. The conference focused on the journey of digital transformation towards smart, connected devices with security, analytics and cloud solutions. Rahul Sharma, Director of Industrial Practice, Frost & Sullivan, delivered the keynote on ‘Trends and technologies shaping the Indian manufacturing ecosystem’, which focused on the pre-paredness of Indian manufacturers and readiness of consumers to adopt the various digital mediums. He also spoke on the sustainability perspective for manufacturing transformation in India, noting that sustainability should be the most significant theme of any organisation. According to Sharma, sutaina-bility needs to be seen on four dimensions – People, Partnership, Process, and Planet – and the mark of a sustainably matured organisation successfully interweaving digital transformation strategy with sustainability.
Staying competitive in the new business and economic environment
Well-received by the delegates, the event's panel discussions focused on the connected ecosystem and digital strategies and the way forward for the Indian manufacturing industry to become competitive in the new business environment. The panel discussion topic was addressed by panellists Vinay Rajagopal, ISV, IoT & Embedded Technology Lead, Red Hat; Guruprasad S, Associate VP, ABB; and Jhankar Dutta, MD, B&R India.
The panellists discussed that the businesses' new realities have made stakeholders revisit their operations, supply chain and customer engagement strategies. Advanced automation, robotics and the latest Industrial IoT technologies are unfolding new opportunities for factories to become more innovative and profitable. The discussion helped identify easy ways to optimise processes, improve productivity and make shop floors smart. Identifying low-hanging fruits and harnessing them at the right time will be crucial to achieving industry goals. The panellists agreed that the connection between machines, processes and people is essential to build a digital culture supported by a data-driven model. But with the looming threat of cyberattacks and data breaches, prioritisation of cybersecurity is crucial to preventing profound business impacts. Well defined strategies, targeted preparation and alignment with industry standards are the needs of the hour.
Achieving operational excellence
The conference also hosted several technology presentations, including ‘Democratising manufacturing via OPC UA’ by Smitha Rao, Co-founder and OPC Expert, Utthunga Technologies and ‘Connected manu-facturing and its significance in a digital world’ by Niraj Tyagi, HEAD COE MES Enterprise Solutions, Tata Technologies, amongst others. The presentations covered the topics of connected factories, imple-mentation possibilities and solutions, stressing the critical aspects of automation, digitalisation, m2m communications, interoperability, Big Data analytics, and new business models. The conference con-cluded with a presentation titled "New era in real-time industrial communication for smart factories" by Ranjithkumar, B&R, heralding the next phase of unified real-time communication invading the shop floor to prepare for the digital future. The conference served as an ideal platform for understanding the latest technology trends and helped draw a roadmap for Indian manufacturers to become globally competitive. With an exciting lineup of topics and knowledge exchange, delegates received helpful guidance on the practical application of these state-of-the-art technologies in all the key sectors.