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Newsletter >> April 2015 >> Smart Manufacturing

 Smart Manufacturing

- Dr. Arvind Tilak, CEO 

Smart Manufacturing as a topic is still not getting the attention it deserves considering how critical it will be to be “smart” for Indian manufacturing sector to remain competitive globally. Manufacturing companies will have to strategize and plan to take advantage of ICT technologies and leap frog over more labor intensive and uncertain manufacturing paradigms. They will have to earmark additional investments and skills to take this leap and be ready to be part of the “smart” world. National level programs like “Make in India” with adjunct export to the world cannot be achieved unless we adopt these “Smart” ways.

It is interesting to examine some of the major collective initiatives taken elsewhere in the world like the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition in USA and Manufacturing 4.0 in Germany. We could use these models in India too to build the movement and deliver results to stake holders quickly.

We can clearly identify some major challenges in adoption of “smart” paradigm of change and these are of mainly in three area – managerial/ cultural, technological and investments. Large companies and groups with access to higher investments and higher stakes are first to take off and adopt smart manufacturing. On the other hand MSMEs and some of the protected sectors are slower in the adoption and so might actually get left out or even become drag. However, considering that larger companies use a well-connected and integrated network of ancillary companies and supporting companies, unless everyone is on same page in terms of being “smart”, the change will be difficult of half way. I am convinced that every Indian entrepreneur is interested to know more about what, why and how of Smart manufacturing. Each one is looking at being part of a learned debate on the topic with concrete inputs on benefits and processes.

One of the critical components of “Smart” canvass for manufacturing is acquiring data from machines and processes, systems and people, in house entities as well as external entities in real time and on line and putting these together. The primary reason for getting on line and real time data is that by accessing and leveraging data in real time, the processes and systems are able to react in real time. Without this critical ability to function in real time and react and course correct in real time, one cannot pretend to be smart.

Take for example operating parameters of the machines in a manufacturing line. Each of the machine must perform optimally and then as a collective the whole line must perform to maximum efficiency so as to be able to meet all the targets and plans. As in a typical “smart” set up the targets will be stretched and planned with expectation that there will be no machine failure. As such if a machine fails and it will fail, some time, and if this critical input is not tracked in real time, there will be massive impact on targets and goals. In a connected set up there will be many other entities, internal and external that will be dependent on the up to mark performance. The gap or failure if tracked at end of shift does not allow any scope to readapt.

On the other hand, if the machine failure is tracked in time or even better conditions which might lead to failure are tracked in time, responsible persons will be able to react in real time and take appropriate steps to up the machine quickly or use alternate machine or at worst case inform all dependent entities of imminent failure. Such measures will allow these entities to take appropriate measures to execute other processes and ensure that the impact of failure is minimized.

There are large number of cases that can be quoted to prove this. But one case quoted by CISCO and ARC Advisory brings this out very strongly. The case pertains to how “smart” IIoT devices were used to help a mining company to increase production of precious metals by over 30% while at same time reducing operating costs and overheads.

We at Ascent Informatics are committed to further the cause and case of using and leveraging real time and on line data supported by insightful analytics and real time reporting for enhancing reliability, predictability and utilization of manufacturing assets. PlantConnect platform and its various vertical variants are helping our clients use real time data on an ongoing basis.

Click to download a discussion paper on Smart Manufacturing. The paper was released on CII Pune Annual Day on 12 February, 2015. Dr. Arvind Tilak and Ms. Sujata Tilak contributed towards the paper.

Click to download a discussion paper on Smart Manufacturing, co-authored by Dr. Arvind Tilak. The paper was released on CII Pune Annual Day in February, 2015.