TRENDWATCH


Rahul Shandilya
CIO, Customer Experience
& Product Development,
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
holds forth on automation
and its impact on the
manufacturing industry.


As the manufacturing industry prepares itself to take on the challenges of an increasingly digital world, next-gen technologies and the Industry 4.0 framework (I4.0) find themselves at the forefront.

Industry 4.0 refers to the current trend of automation and data exchange in the manufacturing environment. Leveraging the ‘Industrial Internet of Things’ (Industrial IoT), it focuses on the increasing use of information by machines to execute complex, hazardous tasks and comprises devices that are instrumented, interconnected, inclusive and intelligent. It includes cyber-physical systems, edge analytics, cloud computing and cognitive computing.

“At Mahindra, we are making
rapid strides to keep pace with
this new world and are also
amongst the first to adopt I4.0 in
the manufacturing cadence.”

At Mahindra, we are making rapid strides to keep pace with this new world and are also amongst the first to adopt I4.0 in the manufacturing cadence. Manufacturing processes have never been so closely aligned with the customer experience value chain as it promises to be in the coming years.

Our journey into I4.0 is based on establishing key enablers for a framework which will aid automation and integration of shop-floor processes and machines. Modernisation of controllers with internet protocols will enable some of them to be available remotely for visualisation and optimsation through cutting-edge analytics. Frankly, I would not be surprised if this results in the creation of digital twins of some of the machines by 2019, resulting in productivity management.

While manufacturing process productivity has been our focus area for the last few years, with the advent of Industrial IoT and digital technologies, the added areas of benefit would include machine uptime assurance and customer order fulfilment tracking. It would further enable supplier integration for Just in Time (JIT) / Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI), Digital Visualisation of Processes and Integrating MBOM (Manufacturing Bill of Material) in product lifecycle management.

This digital integration perspective will result in interesting contextual shifts in decision making which will increasingly move down the organisational hierarchy. This will enable problem resolution through intelligent dashboarding and reporting for operational level teams. Senior managers, will thus be able to focus on anticipation and resolution of more strategic issues by integrating on-the-ground intelligence with business intelligence in real time.

“Our journey into I4.0 is based
on establishing key enablers
for a framework which will aid
automation and integration of
shop-floor processes
and machines. “

This will also result in an improvement in product quality beyond mere incremental changes as the insights generated across the manufacturing process will allow managers to co-relate historical data across multiple layers, including processes, people and suppliers, in a relatively short span of time. However, while I4.0 will play a key role in generating information across the manufacturing process and will also deliver conjunctive analysis on a platter, we would still need to rely on managerial and strategic interventions to leverage the benefits in business. In the long term, this will have a transformative effect on the entire value chain. For instance, in energy management, there has been a perceptive shift from identifying issues to actually designing interventions.

The ability to spot specific patterns in resource consumption during testing has now evolved into a need to find the root cause in various areas like machining, the test bed or the more intricate aspects of engine design itself. The opportunities for organisational transformation are, thus, manifold.

At Mahindra, we are working towards making our systems more transparent and interoperable, backed by analytics, to make these I4.0 tools into instruments for competitive advantage. This will enable us to not only anticipate but also deal with the disruptive technologies that will characterise the future of the automotive industry in India.