The global demand for manufactured products is rising and manufacturers have to think better to find new ways of swelling revenue. The world today needs endless innovation in order to stay ahead and that’s where digitalisation comes into the picture. Digitisation improves methods, is cost-effective and brings you closer to your customers. Manufacturers are being modernised by digital technologies as digital transformation rises throughout the sector as part of what is called Industry 4.0.
With that, many manufacturers are still finding it difficult to build their digitalisation approach and face questions, such as, who on the team should take up the edge and what does company have to benefit from it. These questions, and many more, were recently answered at a conference in Pune with EM and Siemens PLM Software. The subject of the conference was ‘How Indian industrial equipment/machinery manufacturers can target global market by leveraging digitalisation.’
The event started off with the chief guest, Dr Dattatraya Navalgunkar, Director, C4i4 Labs, speaking about C4i4 lab, a 12 year old brand set up in Pune, one of the four branches under Samartha Udyog , set up by the Government of India, with the intention of transforming the industry in a faster way, by adopting smart technologies. “Awareness is a big challenge in Smart Factory and Industry 4.0. The fear of cloud, data, etc leads to the industry to often turn away from such technology initiatives. Also, the ecosystem itself is underdeveloped. So, our focus is to promote innovation and adoption of technologies. If you accelerate adoption, it makes companies more competent. We are also looking at skill building, taking pilot projects, etc,” said Navalgunkar and added, “We have also launched a concept called ‘Knowledge Club’ – a free knowledge session, where we get experts from all over the world to talk on topics from Industry 4.0 to challenge of change. The idea is to look at change management topics more often.”
The need for digitalisation
Up next, Shivendra Bansotra, Industry Consultant, Siemens PLM, gave a presentation on ‘Driving the Digital Enterprise’ in which he stressed on how digitalisation can be leveraged. “In order to bring products at a faster rate to the market, you need new machinery and equipment to support that kind of delivery to the customer. And to remain competitive, manufacturers are also facing their own share of pressure to increase reliability of the machine, power consumption and reduce the total operating cost. Hence, when it comes to these trends, digitalisation plays a pivotal role, as it is the key to higher productivity, better flexibility and overall efficiency.”
Taking control of your data
This was followed by a presentation by Sahir Patel, Portfolio Manager, Siemens PLM Software, on the topic ‘Product Data Management – take control of your data.’ He asserted, “Whoever has access to a computer, laptop, mobile, etc is creating some kind of data of different types. The data is scattered, which is the biggest root cause of why the SME segment isn’t growing further and finds it necessary to bring in more people to design more machines. Siemens has a solution system to offer where you can search any kind of file with a single click, after which you will be able to see the relationship on a dashboard. All you have to do is bring all your data to one server. We will then automate your processes and all the data will be managed in a single case.”
No later, Anmol Kaul, Portfolio Manager, Siemens PLM Software, presented the topic ‘Cost of quality.’ In the presentation, he explained, “With the industry getting smarter, we need to plan for things where we can make our products smarter. Hence, we need a holistic approach as far as Industry 4.0 is concerned. Siemens has invested in this holistic quality management system, based on Industry 4.0, which provides four aspects, by which industry trends and digital threads can be connected together. These are to plan, to do, to check what we have done, and learn what needs to be done next time.”
Challenges in Indian manufacturing
Next, the conference moved on to the panel discussion, which was on the topic, ‘How Indian industrial equipment/machinery manufacturers can target global market by leveraging digitalisation.’ The panelists were Sudhir Gurtoo, MD, Leadec India (Voith Industrial Services); Viraj Kalyani, Founder & Chairman, Kalyani Studio; Nilesh Auti, VP & CDO – Auto & Discrete Manufacturing, Tech Mahindra; Shivendra Bansotra, Industry Consultant, Siemens PLM Software; and Sudhir Kalkar, GM-Technical, ACG Pharma Technologies. The discussion was moderated by Suchi Adhikari, Senior Sub-editor & Correspondent, EM.
Giving his views on the challenges in Indian manufacturing today, Kalyani said, “As Indian manufacturers, we should be creating our own technology. In India, only 0.8% of our GDP goes into R&D. Also, a lot of R&D in India is happening through Government institutions; it should also happen through manufacturing companies.”
Meeting global benchmarks
The next question in the panel discussion stressed upon how the Indian manufacturing sector can meet global competency levels. Kalkar responded, “Even though the Indian manufacturing sector is still lagging behind in meeting global competency levels, we have improved in terms of quality of equipment and services. We can achieve global competency levels for sure because we have an amazing capacity to adapt to technology. We only need to focus on regulatory norms and documentations that are expected at that level.”
How ready are Indian manufacturers?
Throwing light on how ready are Indian manufacturers & their factories in adopting advanced digital technologies, in terms of infrastructure, skill upgradation, knowledge, data security, etc, Auti said, “There are also a lot of forums that are taking initiatives in manufacturing, such as, CII, the Government of India, department of heavy industry and manufacturing, etc. But we don’t necessarily have to copy what the world is doing as we have an advantage of labour cost. But we also have disadvantages, such as, the investment in R&D or focus on quality. So we need to pick up the right case and adopt that technology accordingly.”
Sharing his views, Kalkar said, “There are generations of machines and people in the industry. Hence, there are different kinds of mindsets which need to be synchronised to the best possibility of the implementation of modern technology that we have today. If we take advantage of resources where we can be helped with the tools available and provide the best possible solution to the world, then we are on the right path.”
Highlighting the industry mind-set, Gurtoo added, “We have a mind-set issue in India, where we tend to wait and watch. We need to change that. In terms of Industry 4.0, we are perhaps not even at 3. But we are capable of taking a leap and jumping there, which is an opportunity waiting for us to be grabbed.” Bansotra further said that there is a focus on digitalisation from the government’s side, where labs are being set up by them, as well as by companies. So the awareness is catching up.
What is in it for companies?
The discussion probed further into what technology has in store for the manufacturing business out there, to which Bansotra responded, “The companies are aware of the challenges out there. We discuss with the customers what are their and our views to come to a common goal. If there is a problem that needs to be addressed, then we work on how it should be addressed and what are the benefits that we are targeting.”
Impact on value chain
As the discussion moved forward, the question arised of digitalisation’s impact on the value chain. “There are different value chain players, from raw materials to the end-consumer. And digitalisation shrinks that value chain as we see lots of companies on social media engaging directly with the users of their final products,” Kalyani explained and went on, “this makes the launch of products very fast. That means you have to keep inventing something new or else your product will go obsolete. So, that questions if and how we can innovate faster. You need a collaborative system along with deep specialised players, and digitalisation is helping shape up this kind of industry structure in the value chain.”
Explaining further how manufacturing is now more about quality, Auti said, “Digital technology is not new but what has changed is its cost. For instance, the cost of sensors was about $75 five years ago, now it has come down to less than $10. The impact for us is that we are losing our advantage of labour and we need to know how we are going to handle that change. New jobs are getting created in the industry which are service-oriented around robotics, automation, analytics, etc. So manufacturing is not anymore about creating jobs but is a lot more focused on creating quality and productivity. The change for us is going from the labour mind-set to the technology mind-set.”
Putting across his thoughts, Kalkar asserted that this realisation for digitalisation will help us prepare for tomorrow. It will help us work on it slowly and reach our desired platform. Gurtoo also added that digitalisation is not an option, as it is coming and we have to be ready for the big change.
How to adopt digitalisation
Since digitialisation is inevitable, the next question naturally explored was how it can be adopted in the industry. “You have to believe that digitalisation is for you,” Bansotra expounded and continued, “you can find out what digitalisation has in store for you by assessing where your company stands and what gaps you need to fill through government agencies or digital enterprise solution providers. The next step is acting on that by understanding if you agree with that report and would like to act upon that or not.”
Kalkar further clarified that the industry is moving forward, but people won’t change overnight. So, a roadmap needs to be drawn in collaboration with service providers, so that a slow transition will happen.
Explaining the significance of a digital expert, Auti cited, “If you take some of the top companies into consideration, what has changed in the last 3–4 years in terms of approach, is that one seat is being occupied by the digital expert in their topmost board. The awareness about digital technology probably gets limited at that position. So, the top-down approach is critical over here. In almost 35-40% of the global 500 companies, there is a digital seat in the board. Out of which if we look at the top 100 companies, you will find that the board has not changed in the last 10-15 years. The new digital mindset and the latest developments in this area do not get updated to the board. Moreover, the communication gap exists from top to down.”
Sharing his views with an example, Kalyani said, “One simple step to adopt digitalisation is to pick one global competitor and do a comparison of your product with theirs, and particularly focus on the product’s digital aspects. Does your product measure up to something besides just being a functional product? Those are the things that manufacturing companies should be exploring now, because that’s where the world is headed.” Gurtoo added, “It all starts with learning about where digitalisation is in the industry and what lies ahead. Next, you must assess the industry and make a decision. And then, you can act upon your next move to be at par with digitalisation globally.”
With the panel discussion coming to an end, the seminar moved on with a presentation by Vitthal Londhe, Simulation Consultant, Siemens PLM Software, on the topic, ‘Simulating the digital twin.’ In the presentation, he stressed on the necessity of a digital twin that will do predictive engineering analytics, which will help with upfront prediction of product and system behaviour.
Coming towards the end of the event, the final presentation was given by Siddharth Raghuvanshi from Siemens Financial Services. Explaining how Siemens Financial Services has been operating globally for the past 30 years, he said, “We do not only finance equipment for the manufacturing industry that the end-customer might be using but also the technology that is being used in that equipment. We also have specialised tailored solutions for the vendors and end-customers, where we are financing the whole supply chain. That helps Siemens as well, because we grow when the companies we finance grow.”
Digitalisation is here to stay
Digitalisation is slowly but definitely reshaping the manufacturing industry. Thus, the manufacturing industry needs to be prepared and start working towards its adoption from day one. Digital technologies and manufacturing industries coming together also guarantees to reorganise the whole backdrop of global manufacturing competition, making it an inevitable part of the industry.