Artificial Intelligence and technology in manufacturing is evolution, not revolution

Published: June 12, 2020 2:17 PM

With a strong digital ecosystem and abundance of talent, India is in a unique position to recast the framework of manufacturing but this will require a quantum shift in our mindset and approach.

rolls royce, economic resurrection India, economic recovery India, self-reliant India, Atma nirbhar Bharat, artificial intelligence, AIThe change must begin with the people and their approach.

By Kishore Jayaraman

The economic resurrection roadmap for India laid out by the Finance Minister recently, reinforced the Prime Minister’s vision for a self-reliant India. As we envision the country’s overall recovery, there is a need to focus on technology-driven systems that will be a key pillar to building a future-ready India.

For a self-reliant India, a robust local manufacturing sector can act as a strong lever for economic growth. To build a sustainable local manufacturing base significant investment in disruptive technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) enabled machine learning, will be key to bringing down labour costs, reduce product defects, shorten unplanned downtimes, improve transition times and increase production speed. AI can be used to effectively gather data and insights across manufacturing operations from design to delivery, including predictive problem solving by identifying issues that may not be easy to spot.

As the pace of technological advancement continues to quicken, unleashing the true potential of data becomes ever more important. Finding ways to combine operational knowledge and expertise with this data to create actionable insights is what artificial intelligence enables.

Automation, robotics, and complex analytics have all been used by the manufacturing industry for years. If the technology that makes manufacturing more flexible is widely deployed, it can enable more cost-effective customization, and that could create a real shift in competitiveness. The integration of AI in the manufacturing industry must be seen as more like an evolution than a revolution.

According to industry reports, the Internet of Things could contribute $10 trillion to the global economy by 2030. It is thus imperative that AI, material tracking mechanisms, 3D printing, automated product design, robotics and wearables are integrated seamlessly across production processes and allowed to play a larger role in delivering zero-error results to help manufacturers reduce costs and increase productivity.

Rolls-Royce serves as a living example of an industrial giant transitioning to the new age of data-enabled efficiency – which shows how any the company, regardless of its industry, can and should adapt to the data age. We are using advanced analytics, industrial Artificial Intelligence, and machine-learning techniques to develop data applications that will unlock design, manufacturing, and operational efficiencies within Rolls-Royce, and create new service propositions for customers.

Further, data generated by IoT sensors, aggregated and analyzed in the cloud, is providing Rolls-Royce with unprecedented insight into the live performance of its products — from jet engines and helicopter blades to power generation systems and marine turbines. And that data capability is rapidly evolving beyond just predicting equipment issues and maintenance requirements to providing customers with valuable aftermarket services that range from showing airlines how to optimize their routes to keeping a survey ship in position in heavy seas.

The industry must come together to take technology to the next level and drive innovation through collaboration, with end-users and start-ups coming together to find ways to develop and embed new technology into businesses.

With a strong digital ecosystem and abundance of talent, India is in a unique position to recast the framework of manufacturing but this will require a quantum shift in our mindset and approach. Technology adoption will become a norm for success as we come out of this pandemic. We will need to up-skill our talent even as we learn to intelligently integrate technology into our businesses to move up the manufacturing value chain.

It is time we all envision a new India with greater strategic autonomy and technological far-sightedness to anticipate and respond to the challenges of the future. The change must begin with the people and their approach. We must create the workforce of the future that feels empowered with technology, rather than threatened so that they can create experiences that spark innovation and help build a more sustainable future.

(The author is President, Rolls-Royce India & South Asia. Views expressed are personal.)

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