The need for industry stakeholders to see this pandemic as an opportunity for implementing Industry 4.0 and other initiatives.
The World Economic Forum’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI), also referred to as Technology Readiness, measures the propensity for countries to exploit the opportunities offered by information and communications technology (ICT). Holistic research by the World Economic Forum (WEF) is used to demarcate the adoption of the Networked Readiness Model by various countries.
The 2016 Networked Readiness Index (NRI) Global Ranking indicates the following standings:
5. United States
8. United Kingdom
63. Sri Lanka
Based on the rankings above, why is India so behind in Industry 4.0 implementation? The time has come to think about this failure, where India stands in competition to other developing countries, and why. What should we do and what are we not doing? Time is running out, and India risks remaining at the same low rank even a few years from now.
Prime minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative places India in direct competition with China. However, unless we implement Industry 4.0 concepts, India will never reach the level that China has set. Industrial companies must take different approaches to leveraging the power of IIoT in these challenging times, and reforming the operating model with IIoT solutions will prove to be very helpful.
What are the Challenges Facing India’s Adoption?
Based on my experience in various Indian industries, here are some key challenges I see:
- High cost of scaling
- Lack of resources/knowledge to scale
- Lack of data analytics skills in-house
- Jugaad attitude from the plant-floor to management level
- Lack of courage among investors or management from an unclear ROI or value, due to low transparency from the supplier’s side
- Lack of trust and a fear of failure
- Lack of interest in innovation
- Lack of coordination from management
- Less support from shop-floor employees
- Risks to data security
- Unclear budget value presented by the project head
- Lack of leadership support and attention
- Too many stakeholders
- India’s political situation and policies.
We need to understand that we have entered a new era of Industry 4.0 in which computers and automation have come together in a new way. Robotics connected remotely to computer systems equipped with machine learning algorithms can control robots with minimal human support. Industry 4.0 has highly intelligent connected systems that create a fully digital value chain, based on cyber physical production systems that integrate communications, IT, data, and physical elements to transform traditional plants into smart factories.
I have seen during the last five years of my 20+ year industry career that people love to use buzzwords and spend a lot of money from customers, hoping that magic will happen. Big automation companies spend months understanding customer requirements, calculating the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) formulas and listening to stakeholders all day, with little progress on the ground. After a decade of stagnated productivity, forecasters predict that the 4th Industrial Revolution is expected to create up to $3.7 trillion in value globally by 2025.
Unfortunately, Pilot Purgatory has become the biggest barrier to the successful adoption of Industry 4.0 in most of our industries here in India. With the Indian government pushing manufacturing through the “Make in India” initiative, our industry has garnered considerable attention and brought the spotlight back on the manufacturing sector.
However, success here may not be happening in India anytime soon. Not only in India, but globally, Industry 4.0 projects have witnessed a failure rate of 72%. Why is the success rate for Industry 4.0 so low? It is time to reevaluate everything and make a strategic project planning. I am sure, if planned smartly, that we can achieve our target every year for implementing Industry 4.0.
A Desperate Need to Adapt Trends
The need for automation during the COVID-19 pandemic raises many questions that have been asked in various forums related to the actual need of automation in our factories. It has been seen every few years that industrial work gets reshaped mainly due to technological or economic forces. But this time, work in every industry is now reshaped and new kinds of roles are growing with three trends (remote work, digitalization, and automation).
The biggest challenge is that only 20-25% of the workforce could work remotely in the long-term. Many managers are worried that they don’t know how to manage their employees remotely. When workers are far away from them, they don’t really know what each person is doing, especially when their objectives our outputs are not clear. It becomes very difficult to say whether the person is actually doing their work. The only way companies could respond is through automation, with the challenge of re-skilling people. Indeed, it is a tough future, but if we manage to help workers through this, it could be a bright future for our businesses and workers.
These changes in industry take different shapes as we have witnessed during recessions in the past. In the years following recession, automation levels and automation adoption rise very rapidly, when businesses are very keen to capture efficiencies, stabilize the cost base, and respond to the new economic reality. We expect something similar now, where automation levels rise, and we are seeing things like Industry 4.0, Industrial IoT, and robotic automation starting to become implemented more around the world.
There’s much anticipation that this will create a great shift or trend going forward for more industrial automation:
- Applying IIoT to Secure Business Continuity: Faced with the COVID-19 crisis, industrial leaders have one business imperative: Maintaining their operations. IIoT, implemented in a plug-and-play mode, can be instrumental in ensuring business continuity and minimizing economic damage by ensuring employee safety and security, improving liquidity, and lowering short-term costs.
- Cost Savings and Safety: Companies are suddenly dealing with remote work on a large scale, as well as new concerns about protecting their remaining on-site employees, and have adapted their workforce organization consequently. IIoT tools can play an important role in ensuring a seamless transition through these changes in our manufacturing environment.
As the crisis unfolds, industries can benefit from short-term cost reductions with the help of several IIoT-enabled tools, as follows:
- Remote Employee Collaboration: In general, the more digitized a company’s processes are, the simpler it is to collaborate remotely. Off-the-shelf IIoT tools support the continuation of operations with fewer employees on-site since they facilitate remote work in direct and indirect functions. Other IIoT tools, such as digital heatmaps, can support root-cause analyses for various problems. With machine breakdowns, for instance, IIoT tools can receive input from sensors that help pinpoint problems, such as broken components or oil leakage that could interfere with production. Teams can then review the tool outputs and discuss the potential sources of error over video conference.
- Digital Performance Management: IIoT-based software solutions can provide a real-time dashboard of key performance indicators to support shop-floor performance dialogues, increasing transparency. These tools also allow the tracking of improvement actions and send alerts to operators via mobile devices. The software evaluates machine data, such as information on overall equipment effectiveness, part production, and quality through IIoT connectivity. Improved performance management can help companies boost labour productivity by 20 to 40%.
- In-Line Process Optimization: IIoT can increase production efficiency of single machines or entire production lines by using advanced analytics to optimize process parameters. The algorithm analyses information on all available variables, including production, scheduling, asset condition, and input goods. Data from individual machines get combined with information about the overall production program, allowing companies to optimize machine settings based on previous and subsequent production steps. This allows companies to adjust production schedules quickly to account for changes in demand or unexpected supply-chain disruptions.
- IIoT-Enabled Asset Optimization: This use case involves using advanced analytics to identify the root causes and countermeasures related to the three drivers of OEE: Availability, Performance, and Quality. For instance, an aerospace supplier has a low OEE when producing an important airplane component. It then uses IIoT solutions to monitor and detect certain problems, such as tool wear and missing materials. Based on this sensor information, the company was able to optimize job sequences in a central control room. With these improvements, the company achieved 80% OEE.
- Supply-Chain Integration Across the Value Chain: IIoT facilitates real-time data exchange between all supply-chain participants, creating an integrated view of production programs, scheduling, inventories, quality, and anticipated delivery times. In addition to building transparency and trust, such tools can also reduce supply-chain costs and risks—for instance, by receiving signals from connected machines when they are running out of raw materials, or by tracking the flow of materials along the supply chain using geolocation tags. With these insights, companies can optimize inventory levels, production planning, and transport utilization through a more holistic approach (the information on inventory is used to improve planning across the supply chain, including decisions about producing materials). Companies will also learn about supply-chain problems more rapidly, allowing them to act before they escalate.
As an automation expert, I strongly advise all industry stakeholders use this pandemic for implementing Industry 4.0 and other important changes in your plants and factories. Our project strategy, for instance, is based completely on the World Economic Forum and the McKinsey concept of Lighthouse model factories for companies to escape from pilot purgatory. Helped through use cases, we initiate our every project with small steps and investments, but with big vision.