There is an increased awareness or buzz about Industry 4.0 now
What is driving the fourth industrial revolution?
Before we discuss drivers, I think it is important to first understand the two terms being used interchangeably ‘Fourth industrial revolution’ and ‘Industry 4.0’.
The term Industry 4.0 comes from a project in high-tech strategy started by the German Government in 2011. It primarily referred to intelligent networking of machines and processes in the industry. On the other hand, the term ‘Fourth industrial revolution’ was introduced by Klaus Schwab in 2015. It represents the fourth major industrial era since the initial industrial revolution and is characterised by the convergence of the physical, digital, and biological spaces.
Fourth industrial revolution is driven by the coalescence of technologies such as cloud, IoT, 3D, data analytics, connected products, platforming, AI, 5G networks. It is fuelled by customer needs such as speed, flexibility, quality, efficiency and use of advancing technologies for future backed sustainable development. I have realised customisation, faster prototyping, better quality through automation and ease of experimentation are underlying drivers for Fourth industrial revolution.
How is India preparing for Industry 4.0 and what sectors are likely to be impacted by the present trend?
There is an increased awareness or buzz about industry 4.0 now, even though this trend started somewhere in 2014. With the formation of new government in 2014 and its outlook toward improving India’s industrial growth and maintaining its competitiveness, the need of Indian industry and vision of Industry 4.0 seems to be aligned.
In 2015 government initiated ‘Make in India’ and set an ambitious target of increasing the contribution of manufacturing sector paving way for Industry 4.0 – ‘Smart Manufacturing’. Later many government and industry led initiatives came into picture. Some of them were, commitment of 100 smart cities by the government, the first Smart factory conceptualised by Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Hero MotoCorp implemented initiatives for automated warehouse, and digital twin. These trends prove that we have understood the need of hour, what Industry 4.0 brings to the table, to make ourselves relevant and we are diligently working in the right direction.
I think there will be very few sectors which will remain untouched by the impact of Industry 4.0 in next 5-8 years. Though the major impact could be seen on the automobile sector. Beside this we would also see an impact on the industries supporting ‘Infrastructure and Transport’ for smart cities such as Smart Grids, renewables, Airports, Smart Traffic management, etc. Additionally, enabling sectors such as IT, software development, telecom, and services sector for integration, data analytics, remote monitoring will flourish.
What are the smarter strategies India should adopt for smart manufacturing?
To successfully adopt smart manufacturing, it is imperative that the three pillars – man, machine, and material – that drive manufacturing, maintenance, inventory, operations, and other activities across the entire manufacturing network, be autonomous and agile.
Hero MotoCorp embarked on this journey in 2015 and is still in on the path to executing it.
Before getting on board, it is important to appraise current landscape and challenge business-processes to achieve smart manufacturing transformation for any firm. This would require breaking business processes and manufacturing process into small tasks using systems thinking.
The important strategy for digital transformation is ‘thinking big, starting small, and scaling fast.’ Therefore, first start with a small step of digitisation, i.e., get your IT systems up and integrated business-processes to share meaningful information. Second, in the manufacturing process look for opportunities for automation. This should be decided based on how much value/competitive positioning can be achieved by automating or integrating systems as this will be specific to industry.
These activities will provide you with necessary data to understand ‘What is happening’ and find answers for ‘why this is happening’. This covers your first two step towards ‘Smart Manufacturing’.
Now based on ‘system thinking’ exercise transform the ‘as-is’ process to remove slack and bottlenecks. Aim of the exercise is to achieve optimisation of process and look for inputs that would tell you ‘what would happen’, i.e., you need to move to predictive mode. Finally, fill the gaps with necessary technology components such as cloud, analytics, AI, automation, integration to have capabilities for ‘Autonomous actions’. This is how I define nirvana of ‘Smart Manufacturing’.
What is the future of Industry 4.0, Smart Manufacturing and Automation in the Indian scenario?
To understand the future, lets revise basic building blocks of smart manufacturing, i.e., hardware, connectivity, cloud platform & analytics, applications, cybersecurity, system integration, 3D printing.
India has ample colleges that have aligned their curriculum with future needs and skills like Mechatronics, Data Analytics, cybersecurity are being taught. Along with that India has always been in the forefront when it comes to IT and software development. Major cloud companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google have presence and development centres in India.
India’s advantage is its ample supply of skilled technical labour and low cost. That’s why already Havells, Godrej, Bosch and other large manufacturers have shifted units to India. Also, we have government initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and Andhra Pradesh’s initiative of IoT hub and many other as I mentioned earlier. Therefore, I am sure India would be one of the countries where Industry4.0 has higher adoption rate.
How is your company gearing up for Industry 4.0?
In order to make ourselves relevant for the future, Johnson Controls realised digital as a focused area and understood the nuances of differentiated business modalities. Therefore, in late 2016 Johnson Controls brought all the digital initiatives under one newly created business unit called ‘Digital Solutions’.
To provide digital transformation offerings, the company strategically invested in developing in-house ‘AI-enabled Digital Vault platform’. Digital Vault ingests, manages, structures and secures data to enable meaningful information that can be used to innovate, share and create applications that enhanced decision making, experience, efficiency and optimisation for our customers. Over Digital Vault we created multiple application such as ‘Companion’, a mobile based app to enhance experience of occupants; ‘JEM’ an enterprise management and analytics solution for smart enterprises aimed at management and optimisation of utilities/services and its operations; and ‘Connected Converged Security’, the most advanced digital security application that moves security from a reactive and investigative posture to a predictive and proactive posture by leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence.
I am also very delighted that our customers are also aligned with our vision and methodology of digital transformation as we have recently won the ‘IoT Innovator of the Year’ award in 2019 IoT Breakthrough Awards Program and Digie Award for the ‘Most Intelligent Building – Corporate Headquarters’ for our ground-breaking work on Bee'ah’s new headquarters in the UAE.
How can SMEs face the challenges of Industry 4.0 – any suggestions and advice?
Large businesses in India have been quick to adapt to this new digital trend, however, it has seen lower acceptability in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in the manufacturing sector.
The most critical issue for SMEs is continuous quality improvement, scope and scale. The challenges faced in implementation are due to extensive manual interventions in established processes, interrupted flow of data and shortage of skilled manpower. There will be a sustainable development of manufacturing only when the SME sector participates in with upgraded technology and skills.
Through digitalisation, SMEs can enhance efficiency to fight scale, optimise production cost, reduce defects, and curtail production time. This will help them meet international quality standards as well as establish themselves as prominent suppliers for the global market
What is the end goal according to you?
From Industry 4.0 consideration we are looking for connected, optimised, and agile manufacturing scenarios. This will be enabled by IT and OT integration to provide:
a) consistency of engineering across the entire value chain for optimised and high quality products and systems
b) Horizontal and vertical integration across value-added networks and products leading to optimised outcomes; and
c) Merging of technologies for cyber-physical systems for smarter ecosystem and better outcomes.
Ankur Thareja leads Digital Solutions and Advanced Product Research at Johnson Controls’ buildings business and is responsible for synergising innovation, platform and IoT strategy. Ankur specialises in Digital Business models and value delivery using data analytics to generate operational efficiency, savings and converged occupant experience.