Today’s global industrial equipment and machinery market is expected to be disrupted by technological impacts like availability of new materials resulting in light weighted products, smarter machines supported by electronic and software components and reduced total cost of ownership enabled by IIoT and cloud-based Big Data. Every manufacturing organisation in India has time tested processes, product development philosophies, and success stories. However, catering to the global market as our potential market, these best practices are being challenged today.
In order to overcome these challenges and align to global standards, leveraging digitalisation is the need of the hour. Adopting digital technologies can not only help reduce time-to-market but it can also enhance flexibility, improve quality and increase efficiency of a manufacturing enterprise. This was recently explored at a conference held in Vadodara, Gujarat with EM and Siemens PLM Software, in association with FGI (Federation of Gujarat Industries), IPI (Indian Plastics Institute) and FSSI (Federation of Small Scale Industries – Vadodara). The theme of the conference was based on the topic—How Indian industrial equipment/machinery manufacturers can target global market by leveraging digitalisation.
Setting the context for the conference was Nitin Mankad, President, FGI, who, in his opening address, spoke of the impending digital transformation that awaits the Indian manufacturing sector in the next decade. “Today, we live in a digital age which has dramatically changed our lives. In the next decade, we anticipate a revolution caused by digital technologies. Similar to the telecommunication sector, the Indian manufacturing sector will also witness rapid digital transformation,” he noted. This was followed by another opening address from D P Solanki, Vice President, IPI, who provided a brief overview on IPI. The keynote address was delivered from the Chief Guest, Prem Raj Keshyep, Managing Director, KYB Conmat. He highlighted how adopting digitalisation allowed his company to make use of advanced technology so as to provide the right customer solutions, better than the competition and acted as a crucial factor in catering to the global market.
Driving the digital enterprise
Moving on, the seminar progressed to the topic of ‘Driving the Digital Enterprise’, which was presented by Shivendra Bansotra, Technical Consultant, Siemens PLM Software. During his presentation, he stressed that it is imperative for manufacturers to be very clear about the purpose for which they are buying the latest digital technologies—the benefit that it will bring to their organisation and utilising it to achieve this objective. “Manufacturers can also look into acquiring a particular area of our technology, instead of the whole solution, after setting their step-by-step priority in their journey towards digitalisation,” he shared. This was followed by a brief session from Saumitra Thakkar, Head—Business Development, Snic Solutions, who detailed on the products that are a part of the digitalisation portfolio of enterprises.
The next presentation was on the topic of ‘Simulating the Digital Twin’, which was given by Anil Ogle, Portfolio Manager, Siemens PLM Software. He stated, “Customers today expect products that are energy-efficient, reliable in terms of performance and design standards and are producing smart, connected and adaptable products. This is where simulating the Digital Twin for performance becomes relevant.”
Next, the conference proceeded on to the panel discussion, which was on the topic—‘How manufacturers can target global market by leveraging digitalisation’. The panelists of the discussion were Ashok Sheth, CMD, Solitaire Machine Tools; V Nagesh, Director, Cosmos Impex (India); Dhankesh Patel, President-FSSI & Director, Elcen Machines; Shrishail Chougula, GM—Operations, Stros Esquire Elevators & Hoists and Shivendra Bansotra. The discussion was moderated by Shekhar Jitkar, Publisher & Chief Editor, EM.
Sharing his insights on how ready are Indian factories and Indian manufacturers to adopt digitalisation, Sheth opined, “Digitalisation is an evolving technology, which is necessary for meeting today’s customers’ intricate demands and we are steadily moving towards adopting it.” Next, Nagesh spoke on how to adopt these new technologies and observed, “Our equipment seems ready to be hooked up to digital technologies. However, there exists a gap, in terms of management, in connecting all our processes within our factories so that seamless data and information can be generated for real-time decision making.” Agreeing further to this was Chougula, who also noted that there is a gap that exists within the Indian context in terms of adapting to Industry 4.0 technology.
Finally, representing the small scale industry was Patel, who averred, “Majority of Indian manufacturers belong to micro industries and the SME sector and they are always looking for user-friendly software solutions which are affordable.”
Challenges in adopting digital solutions
The next topic of the discussion focused on the challenges being faced by manufacturers in adopting digitalisation. Sharing his insights, Sheth advised, “Some of the considerations that enterprises must ponder upon before adopting digital technologies include how their customer will benefit from these technologies, the advantages that the enterprise will benefit from by adopting these technologies and the overall affordability of these technologies.”
Also speaking on these challenges was Nagesh, who admitted, “There are challenges, from the customer point of view, to develop products faster while generating higher profits. This increases the complexity of our manufacturing process, which makes management difficult. We face this challenge every day and digital technology is perhaps a solution that can allow for flexible products with more models so as to be ahead of the competition.”
Patel noted that while challenges do exist, they are going down especially with the rapid pace of digitalisation seeping into the industrial sector. Also elaborating on the challenges faced was Chougula, who emphasised, “Cost is a major challenge. The big industries can go for the latest technologies in this respect but the SME sector may struggle due to a limited budget.”
Phase-by-phase adoption of digitalisation
Recognising affordability as an industry challenge, Bansotra affirmed, “To address this concern of affordability, we have adopted an approach where we discuss with our clients on their organisation goals, analyse their competitors and their target market. Then, we create a digital map for them where we determine the prioritisation of this initiative, which is labeled as Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3—thus, taking a futuristic approach. We also analyse their RoI from these investments. Thus, tying the investment to actual business growth makes it easier to see the value of the investment in real-time.”
He further stated that adopting digitalisation in phases allows manufacturers to monitor the progress made in the first phase of digitalisation and if the profit margins anticipated are not fulfilled in the first phase, corrective measures can be taken to overcome this outcome before making further investment in these technologies.
Losing jobs due to automation
Also addressing the concern of job losses being an outcome of automation, Bansotra stated that automation is supposed to make the worker’s life more convenient and will cause an elevation in the overall skillset of the average workforce, who will be shifted from mundane tasks that require repeatability and cause drudgery at the work place. Agreeing to this was Sheth who said that automation will recreate automation-related jobs, thus replacing the old jobs and adding new skillset to the workforce.
Further dismissing the idea of job loss due to automation was Nagesh, who cited the example of his company and shared their journey towards digitalisation. “We did an implementation in our machinery factory where we had 3,000 components, which were manufactured for exports. There were 40 machines and 250 workers working in three shifts in our shopfloor. As an initiative, we connected all our machines with the help of the digital software solution and started extracting data from the controllers of these machines. This gave us valuable insight on the number of components made by each operator, the efficiency of the machine operators, the down-time of the machines, the amount of material available, etc. Through this seamless integration of data, we found that our machines were being utilised only 40% of its overall potential and we were able to gain insight on all such aspects, which were incurring losses for our company.”
He said that by fixing these pain points, they were able to increase their machine utilisation to 60% which directly contributed to their profit margins. “Thus, we found that by accessing this real-time data, we could make decisions that eliminated our wastage and brought more efficiency in our production process. Hence, adopting digital technologies will cause businesses and the Indian manufacturing sector to grow faster and enable it to cater to the global market,” he added.
Roadmap for adopting digitalisation
The final theme of the panel discussion revolved around the next immediate step that can be taken by small and big scale manufacturers to initiate the journey of digitalisation within their organisations. In this context, Sheth emphasised on the need for sustainable as
well as affordable solutions, which will aid the journey of digitalisation.
Speaking on the roadmap for adopting digitalisation, Nagesh, Patel and Chougula reiterated that it is imperative to identify the pain areas being faced by manufacturing enterprises and it is important to adopt digitalisation as a solution to eliminate these pain points. This is applicable across the spectrum including sales, production process, etc. The concluding remarks of the discussion were given by Jitkar who agreed that digitalisation is indeed the need of the hour and it is a necessary ingredient for accelerating the productivity of the Indian manufacturing sector while making it globally competitive.
Remaining market relevant
The final phase of the seminar progressed to the presentation of Sahir Patel, Portfolio Manager, Siemens PLM Software, who covered the topic of ‘Product Data Management—Take control of your Data!’ He spoke of the rapid pace of digitalisation that is enveloping the Indian manufacturing sector and the need for manufacturers to upgrade to the latest technologies so as to avoid being outdated in the market, remain globally competitive and market relevant. The conference concluded with a final presentation on the topic of ‘Cost of Quality’, which was given by Anmol Kaul, Portfolio Manager, Siemens PLM Software, who shared his valuable insights on making efficient cost decisions, managing profitability and affordability and concluded the session by addressing the need for affordable digital solutions. ☐