Industry 4.0: A great future

Industry 4.0 promises to make life better and more savvy, only if adopted at the right time

Vinnie Mehta, VUCA, Vijay Kalra, EESL, Mahindra & Mahindra, N Anbucheziyan, Caterpillar India, IIoT, 5G, 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Cobots

We are moving into an era where mindset is more important than skills. This is not to say that skills are not important anymore. But the mindset will be our ability to adopt, collaborate and bridge cross-competencies in specialised areas like quantum science and artificial intelligence. Today and going forward, a number of smart and connected technologies will become embedded within organisations, people, and assets. The most impactful will be robotics, analytics, artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies, nanotechnology, quantum computing, wearables, the internet of things, additive manufacturing and advanced materials.

This waning year of 2019 featured a constant flurry of commentary about how the business world is being transformed by advanced manufacturing. IIoT, 5G, 3-D printing, AI, VR, revolutionary robots and cobots – they’ve all had gallons of real and virtual ink spilled about how they’re fundamentally changing the production and supply chain picture.

Industry 4.0 is the new disruptor in the world of manufacturing globally and now in India. This industrial revolution of connectivity is clearly a global megatrend, and many MSMEs, Tier 2 and Tier- 3 suppliers are yet to fully understand what smart manufacturing is all about.

Speaking from the shopfloor and MSME perspective, N Anbucheziyan, general manager, operations, Caterpillar India, said, “Rather than just looking at the newer connected technology, we should look for sustainable and smart manufacturing. It has to be scalable in the future. MSMEs should work on four areas namely, smart innovation, smart factory, smart solutions and smart supply chain to ensure sustainable and smart manufacturing.”

Structural Changes
The manufacturing sector is an obvious candidate to provide jobs on a mass scale. However, it is no secret that India’s manufacturing sector has been a laggard compared to the likes of China, the US, Japan and Germany. All of these countries, except China, have a much lower population base compared to India. Given the size of our population and of our future ambitions, we need to urgently reform and upskill our manufacturing sector and its workforce. Industry 4.0 presents that opportunity.

Vijay Kalra, Mahindra Vehicle Manufacturers and chief manufacturing operations at Mahindra and Mahindra, says, "It is too premature to think there's a blueprint for Industry 4.0. The basic idea is what we share with people and then see how it emerges. Something which is meaningful will succeed. For example, we implemented an LED programme at M&M's Igatpuri plant. We began on a very small scale and I soon realised that it was giving payback within a span of 18 months. Once that happened, we joined hands with EESL and we invested Rs 22 crore. We were the first company in the entire M&M ecosystem to completely shift to using LEDs. This exercise has begun giving us Rs 18 crore savings every year."

Recently, speaking at an event, Union Minister for Petroleum and Steel, Dharmendra Pradhan, said,
“Innovation cannot be achieved without having the courage to fail. We must move away from the culture of ‘status quo’. Any economy cannot grow leaps and bounds without the support of innovation driven by its scientific community. Industrial Revolution 4.0 presents immense opportunity to India. We must own our failures, and become brave innovators.”

As agility, experimentation, modern technology and experience management proliferate, organizations will start generating massive amounts of data, at the edge and all the way back to the core. Organisations that are serious about being relevant and thriving in the new world equilibrium must put the onus on data as core to their strategy. The collected data can be leveraged throughout an intelligent enterprise—in the front office for loyalty and wallet share, in the middle office for efficiency and the back office for minimising risk and maximising governance.

With exports as a clear priority for the Indian manufacturing sector, ensuring our products are globally competitive isn’t a matter of choice. Hence, organisations and their leaders need to strategically invest in and build skills (both white and blue-collared) for Industry 4.0.

As organisations battle it out with peers and new technology incumbents, winning in the market needs more than just being agile. It requires capturing realtime sensing of the experience of stakeholders it serves, including customers, partners and employees and ingesting these into existing business processes and policies. This will not only pave the way for sustainable growth and profitability in a VUCA world, but also position in the experience economy.

Up-skilling and re-skilling are the need of the hour and the industry is already being seen to invest considerable effort adapting the latest technologies. The Indian components industry, for one, is certainly taking proactive measures to drive the wheel of change.

According to Vinnie Mehta, director general, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association
(ACMA), “At 7% of the national GDP, the Indian automotive industry is not only a significant contributor to our economy, but it also provides employment to over eight million people. Of this total, the component sector alone contributes to the creation of five million jobs. Automated shopfloors integrated with Industry 4.0, personnel and machines talking to each other, robots and intelligent machines making decisions, AR and VR helping in product design and understanding their behaviour will be the norm of a factory in the not-too-distant future. The moot question we need to ask ourselves is: Can we afford to ignore these changes? Do we have a supportive ecosystem and cost-effective solutions to help us scale up and remain globally competitive?"

Widespread implementation and deployment of new-age manufacturing technologies in India maybe some distance away due to challenges such as the need for high investment outlay, inadequate knowhow, lack of infrastructure, and a lack of adequate cyber-security norms, but can by no means be ignored. Whilst the government aims for a $5 trillion economy by 2025, of which manufacturing would be $1 trillion, convergence of flagship programs such as Make in India with Skill India and Digital India would be key to achieve this goal. It is also well understood that the government alone cannot drive this; partnership with the industry, especially in upgrading vocational training institutes and ITIs, will be crucial to develop a skill-based workforce to drive the Make in India narrative.

“From an automotive industry perspective, a key success factor would be how the OEMs are able to drive and lead the change throughout the value chain by appropriate direction and handholding,” adds Mehta.

Accelerating business
Going forward, the Indian IT industry is expected to grow faster as part of the Industry 4.0 revolution and investments in are coming from all over. According to Gartner, worldwide IT spend is projected to total $3.7 trillion in 2019, an increase of 0.4% from 2018. In India, IT spend will touch $94 billion in 2020, an increase of around 7% from the current levels. According to Nasscom, India’s IT and ITeS industry grew to $181 billion in 2018-19.

There will be many rewards for those firms who embrace Industry 4.0, but those firms who achieve competitive differentiation will be the frontrunners. This is a rare and difficult discipline to master. It takes months to develop and refine and constitutes only 5% of an organisation. But this is the area where early adopters will apply Industry 4.0 to develop the next market, service, product or business model such as bioinformatics, or nanotechnology.

The connected ecosystem that is being built has many benefits and taking advantage of these is going to generate a competitive edge. One of the most relevant advantages is going to be the amount of data that is being generated, and that can be used to adapt to changes rapidly, or even to anticipate these changes. What many don’t consider is that the crux of Industry 4.0 is people, not technology. Ever since the first caveman shaped a flint, humanity has defined itself by the ability to equip itself with tools to manage its environment. The Industry 4.0 era will be no different.


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January 2020
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