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Automation: A support system for manufacturing

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The manufacturing sector has emerged as one of the high growth sectors in India. The ‘Make In India’ campaign has further pushed our economy and provided global recognition to Indian manufacturing industries.

At the recently organised, ‘Digital Technology Senate 2021 – Manufacturing’ by Express Computer, several  panel discussions, fireside chats and keynote sessions took place. The two-day online conference was organised on June 16, 2021 and June 17, 2021 to discuss the implications of the pandemic on the manufacturing industry and how automation is helping the manufacturing sector to overcome Covid fatigue.

The conference began with a fireside chat titled, ‘AI and Cloud Enabled Digital Transformation at Tata Steel’ by Jayanta Banerjee, Global CIO, Tata Steel. He emphasised that Digital technology is more about applying technology as an enabler in the business.

Analytics and AI fall into the decentralised business layer. Cloud, data and AI are the three fundamental tools that everyone should adopt. Integrated systems and connected platforms with assets increase the production realisation and drive the productivity,” added Banerjee.

The next session ‘The Path to Operational Excellence: Optimise your manufacturing operations with ServiceNow’ by Venugopal S Arcot, Senior Director, Solution Consulting, ServiceNow focused on manufacturing ultimately being a customer service which should have the best customer experience. He said that Covid-19 has simplified the process of acceleration and digitisation, touch points became touchless and it is time to move from traditional silo based systems to integrated systems.

Next, a power-packed panel discussion titled, ‘Leading IT through a pandemic: How Manufacturing CIOs can help in turning adversity into an advantage during times of crisis’ took the conference ahead.

Richard DeSouza, CEO, Mahindra and Mahindra Business Solutions; V Ranganathan Iyer, Group CIO, JBM Group; Vivek Ganesh, Regional Director, SAP Concur; Anil Kakkar, CIO, Escorts; Vinay Morje, Asst Vice President, Business IT, Grasim Industries, Aditya Birla Group; Arun Attri, Vice President, IT, Wonder Cement Limited and Vishad Rahangdale, CIO, Electrotherm India participated in the panel discussion.

According to  Richard DeSouza, CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra Business Solutions, “Businesses have greater acceptance for automated technology today, it is time to drive simplicity in the new normal and adopt a hybrid environment.”

“Condition based maintenance has to be achieved with the help of technology and present assets have to be utilised to maximum level,” commented V Ranganathan Iyer, Group CIO, JBM Group.

“Compliance and security regulation will be the biggest concern for manufacturing contributing to supply chains. It should be more agile and integrated,” stated Vivek Ganesh, Regional Director, SAP Concur.

Anil Kakkar, CIO, Escorts commented that data based technology will generate better results in the long run.

“Video analytics can be used to monitor employees for social distancing and roll out of mobile apps for self declaration and contact tracing will be helpful to tackle the Covid-19 inside the industries,” expressed Vinay Morje, Asst Vice President, Business IT, Grasim Industries, Aditya Birla Group.

“We focused on contactless working and large paper movement operations were turned into contactless. This can be a great initiative for a sustainable environment,” said Arun Attri, Vice President, IT, Wonder Cement.

Vishad Rahangdale, CIO, Electrotherm India mentioned, “Stabilisation of the system, implementation of AR and certification programs help a lot to train the employees, which is a key factor in manufacturing.”

All the panelists agreed and ended the discussion on the note that automated tools have given a boost to the production and AI/ML will not only contribute HR operations but it will help the workforce of the organisation as well.

Siddharth Gupta, Principal Solution Engineer, Salesforce India addressed the conference next, with his session namely, ‘Digital Acceleration in the Manufacturing Sector’. According to Gupta, “Manufacturers are facing global uncertainty. 86 per cent of manufacturers say digital transformation is a priority. 76 per cent of manufacturers say new product development should be a priority. Manufacturers are rapidly accelerating digital initiatives  through virtual selling, remote service and cross functional collaboration.”

Next, Sudip Banerjee, Senior Director, Transformation Strategy, APJ, Zscaler addressed the session called, ‘Re-imagine InfoSecurity’. He said, “Remote working has made people more vulnerable to cyber threats. Driven by cloud and mobility, the internet is becoming the new corporate network. There is a 500 per cent increase in ransomware attacks over TLS since March 2022.”

The conference moved ahead with a special address by Vijay Sethi, Chairman, Advisory Board and Chief Mentor, MentorKart and Ex-CIO, Hero MotoCorp. He presented seven tips for digital transformation. 

According to Sethi, “Quantum computers and RPAs are simplifying digital simulation today. Organisations are working to provide value for money. Customer centric approach is the new change in manufacturing. Analytics, cloud and mobile together can transform manufacturing industries.” 

A Mckinsey survey reveals a 40 per cent reduction in operating cost. Such insights came from the fireside chat titled, ‘The Value of Automation in Manufacturing’. Murli Mohan, Vice President, India Domestic Business, UiPath; Arun Sasidharan, Senior Principal Sales Consultant, UiPath India and Ajay Chawla, Head, IT and CISO, Sterlite Technologies participated in the chat.

“Automation is streamlining the supply chains and it can also help the manufacturers  to automate R&D along with the day to day operations,” said Murli Mohan, Vice President, India Domestic Business, UiPath.

“Manufacturing industries should focus  on technology advancement, lowering cost of operation and ensuring ‘Zero’ revenue leakage,” commented Arun Sasidharan, Senior Principal Sales Consultant, UiPath India.

“Cloudification from active directory and global access to servers are important for going forward. Speed of change in manufacturing companies has accelerated and demand is increasing every minute,” expressed Ajay Chawla, Head, IT and CISO, Sterlite Technologies.

Dr. Mahesh Gupta, Chairman and Managing Director, Kent RO Systems took the conference ahead with his session titled, ‘Digital Transformation at KENT RO’. He said that ERP system builds the efficiency in the system and helps in resource utilisation. 

Gupta added, “We need to use Industry 4.0 which has robots to enhance manufacturing. Facial recognition is giving 100 per cent accuracy for attendance operations. Digital technology will strongly take over all manual operations very soon. Data driven technology will drive customer operations.”

Next, Praveen Das, Senior Technical Evangelist, ManageEngine spoke about ‘Aligning Your IT to Business’.

He advised, “Manage and monitor production lines and end points to optimise production. Enable and control secure remote access to on-site operations for partners. Analyse the vast amount of production, consumers and other data to gain visibility. Ensure seamless support to customers and internal users alike at every step in the value chain.”

Manufacturing industries are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Alain Sanchez, EMEA CISO, Senior Evangelist, Fortinet explained the needs of secure IT operations in manufacturing through his session, ‘OT : Digital Transformation and Cybersecurity’. He said, “Value of collaboration using new devices has increased the capital return on investment. Increased levels of cyber threats have caused innovation. We need to learn the language of the business which is taking risks and never assigning to one solution, holistic does not mean monopolistic.”

The last session titled, ‘Avoiding Unplanned Downtime and Improving Operational Efficiency’ was by Rohit Bahl, General Manager, Sales, North, Eaton. Bahl stated, “Industry 4.0 is the most developmental revolution leading to smart manufacturing. Big data and analytics optimises production quality and saves energy. Simulation should be used in plant operations. Clean power is needed to avoid machine damage. Automated bots can interact with humans to create a safe work environment and learn from each other. Therefore, AI driven bots must be used.”

With the Salesforce Digital Technology Senate Awards Ceremony at the end, the first day of the conference concluded with the special address by Rajkumar Ravuri, Director, Asia Pacific, Salesforce. He said, “Manufacturers are focusing on new digitised experiences with enormous amounts of data. The pandemic has amplified focus on sustainability and it is driving manufacturing towards accountability to value chains.”

Day 2

The second day of the conference began with a special address titled, ‘How to approach digital transformation : The IOCL Experience’ by Alok Khanna, Executive Director, Strategic IS, IOCL. He emphasised on the integration of IT/OT and developing AI based solutions that must be adopted in manufacturing.

Khanna said, “Digitalisation will drive us to improve efficiency. The IT Strategy in 2017 based on Industry 4.0 was intended to identify missing technology solutions in the IOCL. Advance IT strategy will help us to adopt foundational identity, future proofing technology and transformational technology.”

Next, Biplav Sarkar, Lead Solution Engineer, Salesforce India took the conference ahead with his session called, ‘Digitisation and Automation in Manufacturing Sector’. He said, “Business differentiation is now defined by the customer experience. Products have to be connected and not siloed entirely. Legacy investments complicate digital engagement. The manufacturing industry is shifting from product-centricity to customer-centricity.”

The next session of the conference was a fireside chat titled, ‘The Digital Transformation Story At Kirloskar Brothers’ Amit Shukla, Group CIO, Kirloskar Brothers. He spoke about using high performance computing for enhancing the productivity of employees. According to Shukla, “Digitisation helps in product development and process development. Predictive analysis can help us to analyse the machine capabilities. Digital transformation is a journey in which data security and IP protection is a major concern.”

‘Accelerate Digital Transformation With RPA For Manufacturing’ was the next session of the conference. Arun Sasidharan, Senior Principal Sales Consultant, UiPath India; Venu Gopal Uppalapati, CEO, Neovatic Technologies and Shankarram Srinivasan, Head Systems, HiMedia Laboratories spoke about the current trends and focus of the manufacturing industries.

“Manufacturing industries are focusing on technology advancement, lowering cost of operation and ensuring ‘Zero’ revenue leakage,” commented Arun Sasidharan, Senior Principal Sales Consultant, UiPath India.

“Process stabilisation is a key factor to consider automation. Manufacturing industries have been struggling to get process efficiency at the back-end,” said Venu Gopal Uppalapati, CEO, Neovatic Technologies.

“Continuous innovation has been the key and we embraced technology as a key enabler in our organisation. RPA helps to create digital workers to aid existing processes or create new processes. Hence, the use of RPAs should be promoted in manufacturing,” said Shankarram Srinivasan, Head Systems, HiMedia Laboratories.

Shantanu Chatterjee, Global Head, Digital, UPL addressed a special session, next which was called ‘The Agri-tech transformation at UPL.’ He mentioned, “Introduce robots to minimise human touch. Edge computing and data processing can prevent cyber threats. Collaborating and sharing the latest technology with partners help us to grow. There is a lot of focus on simulating trials on products and R&D. Smart mobile apps for free have been given to farmers for recommending best cropping practices developed on ML algorithms.”

The next session titled, ‘MongoDB and IoT’ was by Suvig Sharma, Senior Director APAC, MongoDB. He expressed, “Organisations have accelerated the adoption of technology. Companies whose Industry 4.0 implementation is more mature, report stronger ability to respond to crises. Growth in loT is being accelerated by advances in adjacent technologies and changing business models. Margin compression in manufacturing is resulting in a change in business models with an increased focus on digital services as primary revenue generators.”

Next, there was a panel discussion titled, ‘Digital Transformation: Learnings from Thought Leaders’, which focused on the necessity of automated infrastructure in manufacturing units. According to Sanjay Sinha, CIO, Voltas, “The pandemic has been a great teacher and catalyst to force organisations to adopt technology.”

“The way forward for manufacturing is to streamline OT/IT and loT with skill upgradation of the workforce to digitally transform the organisation,” commented Deepak Keni, Executive Vice President, Special Projects and Enabler, Deepak Fertilisers and Petrochemicals Corporation.

“Highly redundant environment with secure operations is a challenge in manufacturing today. Eliminating the zero threat remains a key,” highlighted Sharad Kumar Agarwal, CDIO, JK Tyre and Industries.

“Success is being innovative and the manufacturing industry took the opportunity of the pandemic by digitising their assets,” said Alain Sanchez, EMEA CISO, Senior Evangelist, Fortinet.

All the panelists came to the conclusion that organisations to be clear about an autocratic and democratic way of functioning with prudency of judgment for ROI and security combined with networking is one determinant, networking should be done taking security in mind.

The last session of the conference was the fireside chat tilted, ‘Delivering customer centric business transformation for manufacturers and their channel partners’. Vamsee Mohan Kanneganti, General Manager, IT, CRM, Penna Cement Industries and Sibasish Pani, Head, Digital Initiatives for ESP, L&T EAIC Division, Schneider Electric India participated in the chat. 

“Strong branding with low costs will help to separate from competitors. Sales and marketing have to be at the top of their game, leaving room for improvement for digitisation and moving silos into a single connected system,” commented Vamsee Mohan Kanneganti, General Manager, IT and CRM, Penna Cement Industries. 

“The scope of every project includes the teams, and we want everybody to be on the same platform. Data driven KPIs have driven our organisation and organisations should consider data as gold,” said Sibasish Pani, Head, Digital Initiatives for ESP, L&T EAIC Division, Schneider Electric India. 

With the Salesforce Digital Technology Senate Awards Ceremony at the end, the second day of the conference, concluded with valuable takeaways such as, automation plays a key role in manufacturing industries. It helps to bridge the gap between the demand of customers and manufacturing suppliers.






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