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How Physio-virtual-digital Connections Are Changing The Face Of Manufacturing In India

The physical-virtual-digital connection leveraging new cloud-based and IoT technologies such as machine learning, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence is helping manufacturers connect previously siloed business areas and revolutionize the way they engage with increasing technology-based methods

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Industry 4.0, Smart Manufacturing

Manufacturing has had a long history of change. From the early days of steam-powered machines to high-volume assembly lines to automation and computer systems, technology has played a vital role in driving innovation. The world of manufacturing has entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution - a time when the Internet has enabled unprecedented levels of communication between machines, products and people. At the same time, a digital revolution is underway. India too is at the cusp of this revolutionary change.

According to the World Economic Forum, India is the 5th largest manufacturer in the world  with a total manufacturing value added of over USD 420 billion in 2016. India’s manufacturing sector grew by over 7 per cent per year on average during the past three decades accounting for 16-20% of the country’s GDP. But is past performance an indicator for what the future is going to look like?

The reality is that manufacturing in India has never been more competitive and challenging. Cost pressure, quality control, customer relationships, production and supply networks are some of the challenges that Indian manufacturers face in today’s global market. Frequent service disruptions that inconvenience customers, high maintenance costs due to repeat visits or lack of insights into potential product deficiencies – all these issues are the bane of the manufacturing community in India. The combined effect of these is creating unprecedented new challenges as well as opportunities for manufacturers, suppliers, investors and consumers.

The way out, even though it may seem to be an oft repeated phrase, is digital transformation. It is no longer just a buzzword. It is making Industry 4.0 a reality – a reality that represents the vision of the interconnected factory where all equipment is online, intelligent and in some ways, capable of making decisions. While the first industrial revolution was all about mass production, 4.0 is about using technology to move from mass production to mass customized production, and it’s already happening at a rapid pace. And this is allowing manufacturers to react to consumer demand more efficiently. Not only is the right product being delivered to the right person for the right price, the process of how products are designed and delivered is beginning to attain a new level of sophistication.

Using digital transformation manufacturers can virtually model any design, production and distribution process to improve agility or optimize performance to achieve operational excellence. This transformation is impacting the way products are designed, built and consumed.

But let’s take a pause and understand what digital transformation does. It brings together every system, device, process, data and asset across the organization using a smart production platform. By harnessing all the data in an integrated way, it enables you to deliver the right expertise, at the right time, to produce higher-quality products more efficiently. This is the vision of the manufacturing Industry 4.0 model powered by digital transformation.

For this, the Internet of Things (IoT) is being harnessed across several use cases. For instance, IoT can provide real-time feedback and alert companies about defects or damaged goods and help reduce cost and waste. Or in the case of IoT sensor data-based preventive maintenance through continuous monitoring, whereby the equipment can inform technicians before services are needed so they can proactively address issues and prevent costly downtime. Operational efficiencies gained through predictive maintenance can help manufacturers transition from being reactionary to having predictive—even pre-emptive—maintenance capabilities, immediately increasing their bottom lines. In some cases, digitizing manufacturing and business processes has even resulted in a 45 percent increase in customer satisfaction .

Another example is manufacturers seizing new sources of revenue by connecting outside of their organizations directly with customers and breaking down the silos between salespeople and service representatives, engineers, production/warehouse workers, and delivery drivers. By collaborating across organizational boundaries, manufacturers can engage customers throughout manufacturing and business processes and access new value from plants, value chains, customers, and products. There is also the rise of smart machinery, which has introduced a hybrid approach of virtual and actual content warehouses freeing up manpower on the production and collaboration side of the industry.

Going a step ahead, digital transformation impacts every aspect of operations and the supply chain. It starts with equipment design and continues through product design, production process improvement, and ultimately, monitoring and improving the end user experience. Cloud-based technology is being used for an enormous array of functions. From small businesses that utilize cloud-based infrastructure services to multinational companies that use cloud services to enable powerful omni-channel solutions; the business applications are as broad as the manufacturing field itself. Cloud computing services are in fact helping manufacturers in building, testing, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of managed datacenters.

The physical-virtual-digital connection leveraging new cloud-based and IoT technologies such as machine learning, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence is helping manufacturers connect previously siloed business areas and revolutionize the way they engage with increasing technology-based methods. This advancement is the canvas on which solutions for the future need to be built, to continue evolving to meet the changing needs of customers and capture new business opportunities. Manufacturers need to strategize digital scenarios, develop use cases, and build a smart production platform to increase productivity and grow business.

The fact is that Industry 4.0 is here to stay, globally and in India. The question is - how quickly can manufacturers in India benefit from it. The World Bank predicts 7.5% CAGR for India by 2021. With digital transformation, especially in the manufacturing sector, India can benefit by an additional 1% CAGR. That’s US$154 bn of additional GDP . That’s a number for you to think about.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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manufacturing physio-virtual-digital

Kiran DB

The author is General Manager for Solutions Sales, Microsoft India

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