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Making plants future ready through digitising power

Schneider Electric Manufacturing Today Think Turf Series Round Table was held in Chakan, Pune, on June 6

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The panellists and the moderators pose for a picture after the discussion.
The panellists and the moderators pose for a picture after the discussion.

Manufacturing Today continued its series of Think Turf Series Round Table focusing on digitalisation of power and energy efficiency at Pune. Moderated by Steve Kopsch, automotive - strategic customers & segments, Nitin Khare, associate GM, business development, Schneider Electric, and Bibhor Srivastava, group publishing director, ITP Media Group (India), the panellists comprised Pradeep Bendre, head engine technical support, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles; Naveen Nijhawan, VP, manufacturing, Bajaj Auto; Sanjay Somkumar, chief Chakan plant, Mahindra Auto Steel; Raghavendra Deolankar, head of operations, ZF India;  S Nagasubrmanian, consultant, RSB Transmissions; Dinesh Narkhede, manager, electricals plant engineering, maintenance, Volkswagen India; Santosh Gargote, manager, electricals plant engineering, Volkswagen India; Durga Prashan Das, plant head, RSB Transmissions; Amol Barge, head, production for missile and aerospace division, Walchandnagar Industries; and Varun Paradker, energy manager, ARAI.

Nitin Khare, Bibhor Srivastava, and Steve Kopsch moderated the panel discussion.

Kopsch opened the discussion asking the panellists to support digitalisation and how automotive companies are setting up energy divisions.

Nijhawan said that the tools his company uses must align with the TPM philiosophy. "We want to be capital light as an organisation. Safety is important and there are tools we use to manage that. Everyone is talking about EVs but we are going to look at co-existence of the products. Moreover, making reports from available data is not happening fast."

Somkumar pointed out that harnessing data and digitalisation is the way forward to reduce inefficiencies in production. "The challenge comes from outside. We face challenges of infrastructure, smart grids, etc. Going forward too, grades of steel may change, but composites will not take over steel," he added.

Deolankar said that there are plenty of changes happening outside the factory. "This kind of puts pressure on us. The question is how can one become efficient to cater to the fluctuations happening in the market? We are expanding in Chakan and I am driving the expansion. I am also driving three things: green initiatives, zero discharge, and lean," he said.

Bendre said that digitisation can help reduce the  issues at the plant. "We are focusing on three aspects, cost optimisation, quality (through Big Data, and zero rejections) and predictive maintenance. Simultaneosuly, we worked on loss monitoring and calculated that in terms of money," he added.

Nagasubramanian said that component makers are dependent on OEMs. "When EVs become fully functional, only 1/3rd components will remain unchanged. How does one sustain the change? The transition is not going to be easy," he said.

Narkhede said that while the outside market is a challenge, their internal challenge is infrastructure management and sustaining it. "We focus more on efficiency improvement and cost reduction, digitalisation and IoT. We have taken efforts to reduce energy cost and now monitor it. Now we are applying IoT for maintenance applications like preventive analysis," he added.

Das spoke about analysing data, while arriving at a conclusion. "There is heavy utilisation of manpower for this. We undertake projects to improve efficiency. There is a need to keep manpower busy to gain information and learn new things for engineers," he added.

Barge pointed out as a heavy engineering company, they rely on manual skill as they make missiles and aerospace equipment. "We cannot use robots, so training becomes important. We have set up a new plant only to train people and also manufacture," he added.

Paradker ended with saying that business models are changing. Service is the key. There has to be communicable instrumentation to the optimal depth of the process flow. This is missing in all auto industries.

Kopsch and Khare ended the discussion by speaking  about how Schneider helps customers with smart manufacturing solutions, Smart eMobility, Augmented operator advisor, Building advisors and other Smart IT infrastructure. Their ambition is to be a trusted partner & to help automotive customers maximise efficiency and minimise impact on the planet & its inhabitants. The evening ended with cocktails and dinner.

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