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Across production and end-customer segments, manufacturers are being driven by market forces to discover new ways to better processes and results and assure production proficiency

MANUFACTURING IT Transitioning towards the digital future

Oct 26, 2018

Industry 4.0 and digital transformation are foremost influences on the manufacturing industry. In this context, EM and Siemens PLM Software, in association with Kolhapur Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) and Western Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce Industries, Agro and Education (WESMACH), recently organised a conference on ‘How Indian Industrial Equipment/Machinery Manufacturers can target Global Market by Leveraging Digitalisation,’ at Kolhapur. A post-event report…

Across production and end-customer segments, manufacturers are being driven by market forces to discover new ways to better processes and results and assure production proficiency. With this, digitalisation is quickly becoming the solution for updating the manufacturing industry.

At a national level, digital technologies show the potential to re-shape national manufacturing systems and change the face of sources of competitive advantage. At a recently held conference with EM and Siemens PLM Software, in association with Kolhapur Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) and Western Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce Industries, Agro and Education (WESMACH), in Kolhapur, on the theme ‘How Indian Industrial Equipment/Machinery Manufacturers can target Global Market by Leveraging Digitalisation’, it was explored how digital manufacturing technologies will alter every link in the manufacturing value chain and how Industry 4.0 is bringing in a new age for manufacturers.

Tapping the untapped markets

The event started off with the chief guest, Lalit Gandhi, President, KCCI, who spoke on his recent trip to Rwanda, while accompanying Indian PM, Narendra Modi. He asserted, “If we want to be at par globally in terms of India’s trade business, then countries like Rwanda, which is an untapped market, need to be tapped. India can also reach out to other African countries for trade through it.”

He went on to say that if Indians are interested in starting a business in Rwanda, then a commencement certificate for the same is issued within six hours, once an online application is made. Basically, Indian production has a massive acceptance overseas. KCCI, too, has been working towards the growth of district trading businesses in top institutes, where they are trying to solve problems in the field by playing the role of a catalyst through the government.

Why adopt digitalisation?

This was followed by a presentation on ‘How to drive digital enterprise within manufacturing organisations’ by Shivendra Bansotra, Senior Technical Consultant, Siemens PLM Software. Focusing on the significance of digitalisation in the changing market, he stressed that products have to be cost-competitive, no matter how good they are. He explained, “The shelf-life of the end-products, too, is short in the market, for which you need new machinery and technology to make new and reliable products. Also, a lot of regulations are coming up. To fit into these changes, it’s important to harness the power of digitalisation. You need to give a thought as to what digitalisation can do for your company. This will help reduce the manufacturing cost, time taken and the number of defects in the product, putting you in a competitive environment. Your product needs to have an ‘e-word’ to it.”

Knowing your RfQ

Moving on, Anmol Kaul, Portfolio Manager, Siemens PLM Software, presented the topic, ‘Quality and cost management’. Explaining how to go about the optimum cost and quality, he cited, “You need to know how your RfQ (request for quotation) is treated in the organisation. So, when the RfQ cycle comes into the picture, the next stage is to capture the feedback of internal design teams systematically. When RfQ is received, the system must register if there has been any communication with the customer. Next, you must understand, from an RfQ perspective, how a product can be made better, capturing the information and maintaining it in the system, and then using the same information while making the same kind of product in the future. This will make you competitive from day one.”

Managing your data

Up next, Sahir Patel, Portfolio Manager, Siemens PLM Software gave a presentation on ‘Product Data Management’. Throwing light upon achieving high efficiency through a solution, offered by Siemens, he said, “Siemens offers a solution which brings all of your company’s data on one server. The advantage of gathering the data into one place is that you can easily look at the different relationships and thumbnails of one file. The system also takes care that there are no duplicate part number and drawing number. The only change this brings in your routine is where you open and save your data.”

Next, the conference progressed into the panel discussion, on the topic ‘How Indian industrial equipment/machinery manufacturers can target global market by leveraging digitalisation’. The panellists for the discussion were Bipin Jirge, Managing Director, ifm electronic India; Prasad Soundalgekar, Technical Director, Precifab Engineers; Nitin Wadikar, Chairman & Managing Director, Maharashtra Group of Industries; Shivendra Bansotra, Industry Consultant, Siemens PLM Software and Prakash Rathod, Chairman and Managing Director, Caspro Metal Industries. The discussion was moderated by Shekhar Jitkar, Publisher & Chief Editor, EM.

Accepting new technology

Sharing his views on people being sceptical about using new technology in the industry, Wadikar stated, “People often dread if they will be able to embrace a new technology that has been introduced in the industry, will it require a lot of money, etc. Using the latest technology is very essential, but more importantly, it’s necessary to accept technology without any fear in mind.”

Elaborating further, Jirge said, “We need to spend time on how to implement these new technologies and how much it is going to cost, instead of whether to implement it at all or not. Since embracing new technology is no more a choice, it is something you have to do with changing times in the industry.” Soundalgekar added that the only solution to adopt new technology is to try it out for yourself and make changes accordingly. The first decision may not necessarily be right. However, one can always change it; technology today is not one-piece but modular.

Being at par with global competence levels

Calling attention to the impact that the technology being used for a product makes, Rathod explained, “If you take small and medium-scale industries in Kolhapur, they are not technology and system-wise at par with global companies. Globally, developed countries believe in the system and not the infrastructure or the technology of the company.”

What is in it for companies?

The next question raised during the discussion was, what do companies have to benefit from digitalisation, to which Bansotra responded, “Organisations need to ask the question, what portion of this technology is going to benefit me? If this question is asked, then service providers are definitely going to answer you. You first need to accept that there is a scope of technology adoption in your organisation. You need to invest time into understanding what it’s going to take for you to adopt and sustain it, its cost of ownership and the manpower that will be required. These questions are bound to help you in adopting the technology.”

Are Indian factories ready?

So, when companies understand what digitalisation has in store for them, it comes down to one question – are Indian factories ready to adopt new technologies in terms of current existing infrastructure, manpower and more?

Pointing out the challenges that lie ahead, Jirge expounded, “There is a big gap between the skills required of people for companies that want to adapt new technology. A lot of re-skilling needs to take place for which the initiative needs to come from the top.”

Further, making clear the value including technical systems into the syllabus of the educational system, Rathod elucidated, “We try to get the non-educated workforce here to implement systems from developed countries. Hence, many companies execute these systems at the managerial level. Therefore, we need to sincerely introduce these systems in the syllabus of our educational systems.” Soundalgekar added, “Ten to fifteen years from now, youngsters will not be asked their education qualification but their skills and what kind of machines they can control. We have to train the next generation to use and control the machines to their own desired levels.”

The ease of technology

The discussion further explored how a change can be brought about in the operators so that they can easily familiarise themselves to a new technology. Averring that mindset and willpower have a major part in adopting a new technology, Wadikar said, “Technology has become very easy over the years, you only need the determination and mindset to adapt it. Users, too, can learn the technology as they go with the flow.”

Starting the digital transformation journey

With the destination clear in sight, the discussion delved into what should now be the next step in starting the digital transformation journey. Bansotra affirmed, “You first need to detect where the problem lies and compare yourself with your competitors and see where you stand. Then, you can seek the help of solution providers to map where you want to go in terms of digital technology. The next step is to understand how digitalisation is exactly going to help your company and, in view of that, come to a decision. Once you have made a decision, you need to decide who is going to lead that transformational change within the organisation.”

Soundalgekar further added that we need to identify where we are dependent on human skills. Jirge shared his views stating that with the Industry 4.0 buzz, you could start to adopt a small retrofit system for the existing machines to monitor the predictive maintenance of the machine. Wadikar further added that he wishes to see good technology in the market at minimum price and how India can adopt all technologies of the world, while Rathod stated that continuous improvement and standing out is what can lead the way to experience a digital transformation. The concluding remarks of the discussion were given by Jitkar, who stated that digitalisation is indeed restructuring the manufacturing industry and that its implementation in companies will lead to better productivity, flexibility and quality.

Coming towards the end of the event, Prasanna Kulkarni, Technical Consultant, Siemens PLM Software, took over, giving a presentation on product design. Explaining the product NX, which is a CAD/CAM CAE tool from Siemens portfolio, Kulkarni asserted, “NX is a tool that will help you with the digitalisation of your complete product. It can also be used for the purpose of commissioning and service. Siemens helps you to create the digital team of your complete product.”

Conclusion

Digitalisation is the way forward for the manufacturing industry. With the Indian manufacturing industry warming up to digitalisation, prosperous industrial companies will come out as true and triumphant digital enterprises, with physical products at the centre, amplified by digital interfaces and data-based, pioneering services.

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