The people, process and the technology required for smart manufacturing is available. What is needed is a mindset change
The Internet of Things (IoT) will revolutionise the way we see and use everyday things. Cities around the world are experimenting with IoT technology to improve the lives of their citizens, Industries are using it to reduce costs and organisations are leveraging the power of connect to improve their products. Given these advances and the potential benefits, is our country really geared to exploit this revolution?
Forward-looking equipment manufacturers are starting to incorporate built-in intelligence as well as connectivity. They comprehend that by providing connectivity—as well as intelligence around operational states—they can moderate the total cost of ownership and usage statistics of their equipment, and help their customers optimise their operations at the same time. Access to technology and speed of development have spurred the explosion of multiple IoT startups, leading to infinite possibilities of leveraging the technology and generating business value. However, many moving parts need to work in tandem for sustainable growth.
The reality of embracing Industry 4.0 is not far-fetched for manufacturers in India, as elevating manufacturing industry to global levels of excellence is a top priority under the Make-in-India initiative. The people, process and the technology required for smart manufacturing are now available in India. The thrust must now come from within the industry through a mindset change, thinking and dreaming big.
It is critical to focus on a long term roadmap with strategic investments and calculated benefits. Smart decisions are needed on smart innovative retrofits vs. totally new smart machines. Our choice has always been cost and our biggest strength has been maximum output and quality by running machines effectively with low capital costs. Procuring used machines and extending the life of these machines has always been a strategic move. Smart IoT retrofit solutions need to be adapted to these used machines. People will need to be reskilled and adapted to the new processes and technology.
The dependence on data servers outside of the organisation and the use of the internet for data communications is a big risk in terms of data loss and data theft.
A data communication or an infrastructure breakdown could bring the entire networked production and smart manufacturing down with a substantial cost impact. It is imperative to design a redundant architecture to cover for potential breakdowns.
India has to look at IoT adoption differently but aggressively. We, as an industry, need to accelerate time to market, reduce costs, and raise quality, lower energy consumption and increase customisation to local needs. A product innovated for India has a massive potential outside of India. So embracing the concept of laying down the infrastructure and then embarking on a roadmap of invest, experiment, validate and deploy has to be taken up.
The journey of creating and developing smart factories will be complex but evolutionary. Requirements for local innovation will be the need of the hour as these will play an instrumental role in increased adoption. With the advent of Industry 4.0, new manufacturers will look absolute different from what we see today and we can anticipate smart industries helping emerging nations to gain global competitiveness.
By Uday Prabhu
The writer is general manager—electronics engineering, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions