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Awaiting the transformation

Manufacturing today recently organised a webinar on the topic of awaiting the transformation. Here are excerpts of the event.

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Rajesh Nath, Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, PM Modi, Vocal about local, Mobile tower manufacturing, ISRO, DRDO, Indradev Babu, UCAM India, Ravi Raghavan, Bharat Fritz Werner (BFW), Gururaj D Patil, Emag India, Jay Shah, Tungaloy India, Rajiv Gandhi, Maruti Suzuki India and S.M Vaidya, Godrej Aerospace

The machine tools industry has been experiencing disruption in the business. Outbreak of COVID-19 in India put a halt to all the activities in the country. On this backdrop, Manufacturing organised a webinar on the topic of Awaiting the Transformation. Indradev Babu, Managing Director, Ucam India; Ravi Raghavan, MD, Bharat Fritz Werner (BFW); Gururaj D Patil, Managing Director, Emag India; Jay Shah, Managing Director, Tungaloy India; Rajiv Gandhi, Sr. ED Production Maruti Suzuki India and S.M Vaidya, V.P & Business Head, Godrej Aerospace participated in the virtual panel discussion. Rajesh Nath, Managing Director, VDMA India moderated this panel discussion.

Speaking about it how this situation has led businesses to rethink about their supply chains, Patil said, “As we all know, COVID-19 has thrown almost every industry and every nation into a strict regime of lockdown. Every industry whether its manufacturing or services, it is hit by the consequences. Having said this, I would like to highlight that the auto industry as it primarily drives the Indian manufacturing sector. It had been going through multiple disruption even before pandemic struck. Shift from BS IV to BS VI, emergence of electric vehicles, etc. created disruption in the industry. So the question is how do we manage the predictability in these unpredictable times? Apart from the changes mentioned before, there is yet another change we are likely to experience in coming months – i.e. higher demand for individual owned or individual driven private mobility. As the social distancing will prevail, people will prefer driving their own vehicle than depending on the public transport.” He further added that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Seconding the same, Gandhi said, “The auto industry had been facing its share of challenges earlier to COVID-19 and lockdown times. Then, there was a clear trend towards shared mobility and hence Ola and Uber were booming. But as rightly put by Gururaj Patil, suddenly we might see a trend towards owning a personal vehicle.”

Highlighting economic situation, he mentioned that currently the country’s graph of economic growth is towards downward. However, the government is keen to restart the economy and measures such as Atmanirbhar Bharat are leading us towards the same path. So we need to be optimistic about the future.

Highlighting opportunities in other sectors, Raghavan mentioned, “I think corporatisation will bring changes in the defence sector. Now, the private entities have entered defence equipment manufacturing segment, which is in turn changing mind-sets of the government defence organisations such as Ordnance Factories. Most of these Ordnance Factories have been set up long time ago. However, they still use the same machinery which was imported at that point. Also, bringing change wasn’t easy earlier. However, now with the changed mind-sets, these government entities are keen to partner with private players. So, this sector is definitely promising and has huge opportunities.”

Adding to this, Vaidya said, “Government of India had a huge ambitious plan for both ISRO and DRDO, two of the front running research and development organisations for India. India has set many goals not only for our GPS but also for our own communication channels and spatial satellites, which will provide services to critical sectors such as defence forces. It is worth to mention that we despite ISRO’s progress in this direction is a big achievement, still our share in the global market is not even 6%. Meaning there is huge scope to grow.”

Elaborating on other sectors that bring opportunities for the manufacturing industry, Jay Shah added, “We have experienced good monsoon season for last couple of years. As a result, farm equipment industry is doing well and people are investing in tractors. In the current scenario, pharma industry also has high demand. Therefore, they are investing in new machines. Additionally, tool and dye shops are also doing well due to the high demand for FMCG products like bottled beverages. Moreover, the mobile tower manufacturing is also doing well. Overall, I feel that it's only a matter of time till we come out of this situation. Post that, all the segments will slowly pick up and there'll be vast opportunity for everyone. And it’s up to us how we can take this opportunity.”

Even PM Modi has given the industry mantra of being vocal about local. Speaking about it, Babu says, “Being vocal for local is not only a mantra but it’s an emotion. This help create confidence amongst customers. At the same time, it is our responsibility as a supplier to show our ability and deliver best quality products and prove that we are competitive.”   

Raghavan said, “Also, every company’s supply chain will now start looking at themselves from a risk perspective. So, every big company will see that are their supply chain is closer to them, so that at least one risk of geographic uncertainties can be eliminated. As a result, the suppliers will come closer to the customers.”

Rajesh Nath also raised a question about how the adaption of technology is likely to change? Answering this question, Patil said, “The new normal especially for the manufacturing industry is to have machines, and processes connected, which is primarily the intention behind Industry 4.0. Also, something which is coming clearly now is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is driving the manufacturing industry. Smart manufacturing is here to stay. Also, let me highlight here that many believe Industry 4.0 actually increases the cost of manufacturing. However, it’s a myth. Because in a way, if you are Industry 4.0 compliant, you would be optimising your manufacturing costs.”

He further elaborated with an example saying “We recently concluded an experimentation on the Industry 4.0 and IoT between two lines which a customer was running in two parts of the nation. So, when we analyse the manufacturing data and entire process data, we could actually optimise on so many aspects. And this actually improved the operational equipment efficiency (OEE) of the machine tool. And also this benefited in terms of the higher throughput for the customer and also reduced nonconformity.”

So, return on investment for the Industry 4.0 was achieved in the span of a year. Customers are usually keen to know about return on investment on these new tools. So, this is going to stay and we will have

more connectivity between not only the machines but also between the processes and the machine.

Agreeing to him, Babu said that, “Although words like analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning sound jargons, they are not so. Also, they do not make manufacturing process expensive. In fact, Industry 4.0 is here to stay and consumers should demand for IoT enabled equipment.”

He further added, “Indian companies which are willing to compete in the international market, have to be competitive in all the aspects including attitude. We need to demonstrate our positive attitude and show that they are competitive.”

Seconding the same, Raghavan said, “The digitisation is something that will stay and grow. As a result, we will have to push our people to unlearn, learn and relearn. That’s going to be mantra now. And we will have to look for people having such attitude towards work while building our teams.”

Rajesh Nath concluded a discussion on an interesting note. He narrated a quote of a German physicist, Georg Lichtenberg. ‘I cannot say whether things will get better if we change. What I can say is they must change if they are to get better.’

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