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The 7 As of transformation in digital manufacturing

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Digital manufacturing, Persistent Systems, Uncategorized

By R Venkateswaran, sr. VP, IoT solutions, Persistent Systems

Industry 4.0 defines a vision towards the future of Manufacturing and is a unique blend covering various technologies including Digital Manufacturing, Industrial IoT, Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics. The potential of this combination creates optimism about the benefits of Industry 4.0, while simultaneously marked with uncertainty about its applicability and commensurate value to a specific organization.

In India, while there is a general awareness and a desire to adopt Industry 4.0 in manufacturing companies, there is an overall unfamiliarity about the path for adoption. Multiple challenges including, but not limited to upfront investments in technology, enforcing a more disciplined way of working and the lack of technology know-how, combined with uncertain return on the investment are hindering the wider acceptance of Industry 4.0.

The past year saw the launch and expansion of many initiatives from the Government of India to accelerate the adoption of Industry 4.0. The Samarth Udyog initiative launched by Ministry of Heavy Industries last year expanded its presence by providing a platform for Manufacturing Industries, Technology Solution Providers and Academia coming together to jointly address issues related to valuable industry-specific use cases, solution demonstration, training and skill development. Early in February, the Government allocated a budget of INR 100 crores towards the launch of Cyber Physical Systems (also known as Digital Twin) under the direction of Department of Science and Technology that can benefit the Manufacturing Industry greatly. Most recently in October, under the Digital India initiatives, the Government also announced the launch of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution jointly with the World Economic Forum.

The above initiatives have generated immense interest in the manufacturing community. Different organizations are, however, at different levels of maturity with respect to technology adoption and in their journey towards Industry 4.0. We have devised the “Seven ‘A’ Framework” to help manufacturing companies understand their current level of maturity, chart their roadmap and track their progress in technology adoption and transformation.

  • Awareness – Today, there is a good degree of awareness about Industry 4.0. In addition to the Government initiatives, industrial consortia such as ACMA and organizations such CII and Nasscom have conducted several industry sessions with the intent to create awareness and showcase available solutions. These solutions highlight the benefits of Smart Manufacturing in increasing the efficiency, consistent and predictable improvement in the quality and overall growth in the profitability of the manufacturing company.
  • Acknowledgment – The strategists and key decision makers in the manufacturing organization have introspected and acknowledged the relevance of Industry 4.0 to the specific set of challenges faced by the organization. The acknowledgement is usually an outcome of internal introspection of hurdles that are hindering the organization in serving a global market.
  • Assessment – A deeper study, often done in association with external consultants and subject matter experts, helps the organization understand its current state of technology adoption towards Industry 4.0. Baselining and benchmarking help the organization to understand their misalignment in the context of their infrastructure, products, processes and people vis-à-vis their vision.
  • Acceptance – This stage is an essential part of the transformation journey wherein the organization realizes and accepts its current state and the future plans. Organizations in early phase of Industry 4.0 adoption should focus on not more than the top 3 to 5 priorities and articulate specific business outcomes expected from technology adoption that addresses their challenges.
  • Adoption – It is important that technology adoption should take a phased approach. This helps organizations to minimize their investment risks and achieve specific business outcomes commensurate to the level of investment. A phased approach incrementally and iteratively helps organizations to evaluate the right technology and slowly bring in organizational transformation.
  • Accrual (of business value) – This is the most critical aspect of the transformational journey. When technology adoption happens iteratively, the business value accrues incrementally over multiple iterations. Senior management should take a longer time view of the business value to understand the potential of technology adoption in their organization.
  • Acceleration – This is the highest state of technology adoption wherein the organization has demonstrably proven the business value and wants to now rapidly accelerate the adoption. This helps the organization differentiate and achieve early-mover advantage amongst their peers.

As we look back on 2018, it is heartening to see the thrust and focus in India towards accelerating the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies and enabling Smart Manufacturing.

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