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Auto components companies highlight how india can adopt digitalisation in manufacturing and what it takes to change.

by Jayashree Kini-Mendes

It is predicted that by 2020, digital will be the core of what companies deliver to their customers. With Cloud evolving to Version 2.0, edge and distributed processing are becoming significant factors in the overall digital infrastructure. There is also talk that IoT will continue to be verticalised.

All the above are hallmarks of what future manufacturing plants will look like. Keeping this in mind, Manufacturing Today organised the Think Turf Series on Digital Manufacturing: Building Future-ready Plants, presented jointly by Cisco and Rockwell Automation. The Round Table format was well attended by carefully chosen companies who have and plan to implement transformation using digital platforms.

The panellists for the Round Table were S Srinivasan, GM, product line management, Kone Elevator India; Sathpathy SK, head, engineering, JK Tyre & Industries; Balasubramaniam P, manufacturing, head BU mobile & wind solutions, Bonfiglioli Transmissions; Prasanta Kumar Ray, DGM, plant & machinery, L&T Construction, heavy civil infrastructure; Shaik Rahiman, VP, manufacturing, Tractor and Farm Equipment; Shanmuga Sundaram J, deputy manager, network & system support, Hinduja Tech; Ganesh Mani S, sr. VP, production, Hyundai Motor India; Thiagarajan, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles; and Bharath PV, sr. manager, IT projects & solutions, Amara Raja Batteries.

The panel was moderated by Anirban Chatterjee, principal consultant, manufacturing & process consulting practice, Frost & Sullivan. S Saikumar, deputy MD, ITP Media Group, welcomed the panellists and the team of Cisco and Rockwell Automation. Setting the tone for the Round Table, Vasudeva Subramaniam, CTO, digital transformation, Cisco, spoke about how digitisation is transforming the industry. “We have various collaborative tools that can drive efficiency at the workplace. Today, people know what they need to transform and how to transform is where they need help. Digital Vortex is a tool that will aid the inevitable movement of industries toward a “digital centre” in which business models, offerings, and value chains are digitised to the maximum extent possible. A few examples of disruption are Apple, Uber, and WhatsApp that has arisen beyond the traditional realm of industry incumbents. Big data analytics, machine to machine communication, IoT and Cloud are the biggest disruptors of change for the manufacturing industry.”

Speaking about the challenges of transforming existing plants, Vineet Saxena, GM, industry & information solutions, Rockwell Automation, said, “There are a number of companies that are yet to connect their shop floor. At the foundation level, there are challenges which people are addressing in new plants, but the biggest challenge is transforming existing plants. According to a Mackenzie report, the IoT impact will be to the tune of $4.6 trillion by 2025. About 35% manufacturers are at the early adoption stage. One needs to take a systematic approach on priorities and align it to the long term goal. A successful initial implementation will build confidence among the workforce. Analytics is the order of the day, and IT and OT are not isolated words anymore. I see five levels of smartness, of which smart machines and integration play a key role.”

Supporting transformation
Chatterjee threw the first question to the panellists about where do Indian organisations stand today in Industry 4.0 global transformation?

Mani from Hyundai Motors said that automotive and manufacturing has gone through a metamorphosis. “Most companies took to late adoption and that was only because of forced government regulations, because of the recall policy expected. To give an example of my own company, we capture close to around 600 million bytes of data from the body shop alone (welding shop) alone every year. We use something called as DTIS (a digital inspection system) that is akin to a smart box and added in every vehicle to calculate valve timings of the camshafts. However, as far as OEMs are concerned, they are working at Industry 4.0. But Tier-I and II have a long way to go,” he added.

To this, Rahiman of TAFE added that his company maintains tight accuracies on its global platform and uses a SCADA system to upload all data of the manufacturing unit. The company has 250 suppliers and it has recently taken up the journey of digitising the quality data of components. Change involves also a change in the mindset of suppliers.

Explaining how companies can be convinced to invest in technology, Sathpathy of JK Tyre & Industries said that customers are becoming more demanding. Tyres are no more a mere commodity. Customers demand to know the changes we have incorporated in our manufacturing process and the end product itself. Big Data plays an important role. Tyres manufacturers have to become technology- and customer-savvy.

Ray of L&T Construction said that considering the kinds of investment that companies make in their IT infrastructure, there is a dire need to protect data. “L&T monitors every transaction that does not intrude on privacy. Our systems throw up alerts in case of any breach. We need a balance between practicality and cost provisions. Moreover, risk is not measurable easily, so converting the risk into measurable format is a challenge,” he added.

There is a need to go granular in the manufacturing business, said Srinivasan of Kone Elevator India. “Globally, the elevator industry continues to operate in a traditional fashion at a time when we have new models coming in, besides the services to offer. Our main challenge is the variants and the amount of data we have to deal with between equipment and processes, which are right from marketing to delivery. What we need is to ensure that data is integrated so that it is useful even after 25 years,” he added.

Explaining how manufacturing processes are changing due to technology competitiveness and a bid to remain cost-effective, Balasubramaniam of Bonfiglioli Transmissions said, “It is imperative that digitalisation integrates everything and that includes raw materials, manufacturing, R&D and supply chain management. Industry 4.0 will not only help increase productivity, but also enable us to offer exactly what customers want, when he wants and how he wants the products delivered.”

There is a dire need to adopt digital technology that allows for predictive maintenance. Bharath of Amara Raja Batteries said that customer expectations for service is increasing in demand, despite the fact that the company offers warranty and voluntary checks batteries at sites. “We realise that we need to adopt IoT to check the health of the battery, and manage warranty. There have been plans to create an app wherein customers could login and enter warranty details and track the maintenance,” he said.

Auto manufacturers have a different set of problems. They have to worry that the vehicles they manufacture are not prone to frequent breakdowns. Ultimately, it boils down to the superior nature of the components. Thiagarajan of DICV said that with the company ready to roll out BS IV vehicles, market dynamics has the company face much challenges. For instance, a breakdown in a vehicle in a remote location meant a turnaround time of 12-14 hours to first understand the nature of the breakdown and then go with the right materials to fix it. However, telematics and digitalisation has reduced the cycle time considerably.
Sundaram of Hinduja Tech hopes to start digital manufacturing in his organisation with the inputs gained from the Round Table. “With technology improving on a regular basis, most companies are comfortably settled using outdated technology. Industry 4.0 will raise productivity higher than what is expected and will make us more competitive at a global level,” he added.

The Round Table ended with questions thrown in by the audience to the team of Cisco and Rockwell Automation. It was then followed by cocktails and dinner.


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