We are looking at a cloud-first approach for all new technology initiatives: Beena Nayar, Head-IT, Forbes Marshall
With an expertise of over seven decades, Forbes Marshall is a leading multinational engineering company that specializes in steam engineering and control instrumentation. Headquartered in Pune, the company is a leader in process efficiency and energy conservation for the process industry. The company currently has five manufacturing facilities spread across India and UK.
Recognizing that cloud has all but emerged as the foundation for innovation, and to accelerate its Industry 4.0 journey, Forbes Marshall has moved a number of business-critical applications to the cloud. As part of its digital transformation roadmap, the manufacturer is looking at a cloud-first approach to developing new applications and accelerating business innovation. Beena Nayar, Head-IT, Forbes Marshall, shares with us, her company’s plans to take advantage of the cloud
Some edited excerpts:
Can you share details about Forbes Marshall’s digital transformation strategy?
Forbes Marshall is a leading multinational engineering company, specializing in steam engineering and control instrumentation products. We have been leveraging several unique and innovative products and services that solve real world problems. Technology has always been core to our business strategy. We are focused on looking at a digital-first approach to business to achieve our goal of becoming a leader in energy and process automation solutions.
We have deployed a good mix of digital tools and platforms for boosting business and employee productivity. Some of these have been built in-house, and we use some solutions offered by technology providers like Oracle. Key elements of our IT setup span Oracle EBS (ERP) and Oracle ASCP, in addition to custom applications that enable digitalization and business automation.
For example, our mobility solutions have helped fully automate transactions. They are also enabling track and trace capability of our material movement across the value chain, resulting in better visibility/monitoring as well as reduced wastage. We also use BI solutions for advanced data analytics for fast-tracking the insights-to-decisions cycle. This has led to aiding quicker, more intelligent business decisions. Some of these include identifying and resolving supply chain bottlenecks proactively and fixing them in the initial stages itself; improved planning cycles, increased sales opportunities, amongst others.
From an internal perspective, we are continuing to digitalize the workplace. We’ve deployed a number of collaboration and workspace productivity tools to help employees increase productivity and ensure smooth operations across our offices and facilities.
What are some of the key technology initiatives undertaken by Forbes Marshall in the last year? What has been the impact of these initiatives?
We have closely collaborated with technology leaders and pioneers in Belgium, Germany, and Japan on technology initiatives in the recent past. Our technical achievements have been recognised both nationally and internationally. We have won several awards from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the India Design Council, and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy.
We are using BI tools for data analytics. This has helped us make critical business decisions – be it to identify supply chain bottlenecks, or for better planning and more outcome-based sales efforts and the like. We have built these applications based on lean manufacturing principles, and that’s helped us cut down waste and improve productivity. This has resulted in smooth material movement between operations during production and integrates seamlessly with our Oracle EBS and Oracle ASCP applications throughout the production cycle. This has helped reduce waste, ensured seamless movement of material and real-time data capture of issues, reworks, rejections etc, which can then enable additional improvements in the value streams.
How important is a cloud-first approach in the context of transformation?
The pandemic has led to accelerated cloud adoption across the board. Organizations, especially in the manufacturing sector, are looking at cloud as a sustainable, viable model for innovation at scale, at speed.
From our digital journey perspective, we are looking at a cloud-first approach for all new technology initiatives. We want to keep our datacentre as light as possible. So over the last few years, we started building new applications on the cloud. We are also moving older applications onto the cloud. At present, we have moved most of our applications to the cloud.
The elasticity that cloud provides is very helpful while upgrading applications. We can easily clone an instance and upgrade on the cloned instance. After upgrade is over the addiitonal instances can be scrapped.
Please share some details on your strategic partnership with Oracle. What business benefits have you realized by using Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI)?
We have a long-standing partnership with Oracle that spans many years. We recently moved and optimized our Oracle EBS and Oracle ASCP applications from an on-premises environment to Oracle’s secure, second generation cloud infrastructure. We have already started seeing great improvement in reporting and analytics, particularly for some of the long-running and time-consuming reports/procedures, with an average 30 percent improvement in application performance. Further, we’ve seen 50 percent time savings vis-à-vis the earlier setup for cloning instances and backing up data.
Can you give us an outline of your tech innovation roadmap?
We are using RPA to automate some routine operations, and we intend to continue this path using OCR and AI/ML to further automate and enable faster, smarter decision making. We’re also working on augmented reality and virtual reality initiatives to ensure a great experience to our customers and field engineers.
We are also developing a modern warehouse management system. We are working on introducing more mobility initiatives as well. We are implementing, what we call FMSMART system, which enables end-to-end traceability and tracking of material from the vendor to the company, through manufacturing and dispatch. This also takes care of the flow of documents and document management. This has been developed using industry 4.0 techniques and lean manufacturing principles.