Building Atmanirbhar and Anti-Fragile Manufacturing System
Published by : Industrial Automation
Navaneeth AN on the opportunity for Manufacturing in India to be both Atmanirbhar and Anti- Fragile by leveraging emerging technologies.
The recent announcement by the Government of India of the Atmanirbhar (self-reliant) Abhiyan Package, is an opportunity to kick start Make in India 2.0. This package lays down a bold intent to re-energise, revamp and reinforce a strong industrial and manufacturing sector for India’s long-term growth in a post-Covid world apart from allaying near-term working capital and loan financing concerns due to the pandemic crisis. The package couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the Indian Manufacturing sector and with technology leverage to build an Anti-Fragile manufacturing system. The Covid-19 pandemic is a Black Swan moment. As statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb had stated: “Black Swan logics make things we don’t know much more relevant than things we know and hence need to adjust to the existence of Black Swans rather than trying to ‘predict’ or ‘produce’ them”. Respecting this, manufacturing in India now has an option to change in a way that are able to survive in a VUCA world and thereby becoming ‘Atmanirbhar’ and also ‘Anti-Fragile’.
Manufacturing in India becoming Atmanirbhar
The Covid-19 pandemic swept through major businesses and severely impacted several country’s manufacturing and distribution sector with the following situations:
China dependent Supply Chains
China is the chief supplier of intermediate inputs for global manufacturing companies, with about 30-40% of the world’s intermediate products originating from the country. Restrictions in China has affected companies immensely as they rely on China’s production and consumer market.
Shortcomings of the Just-In-Time Process
The global manufacturing industry is built on outsourcing, just-in-time inventory and thin margins, all of which combine to make it very delicate. The Institute of Supply Management study found more than 40% of these companies were not equipped to deal with the disruption. The concept of avoiding stockpiling proved to be very efficient for streamlining costs and operations. However, during the pandemic, the threads of advantage tend to loosen up quickly. Apart from the above pandemic fall out, there are other factors also for consideration in building an Atmanirbhar manufacturing system:
1. Transition of manufacturing workforce from Blue Collar to ‘No Collar’: Plan for ageing workforce, plant floor is increasingly becoming more technical oriented and automated, and also accommodating next generation workforce (Millennials becoming managers and Gen Z joining operations).
2. Micro plants: Growing demand for personalisation, redefined customer experience to target the individual needs, manufacturers are investing in smaller and nimble intelligent plants that are able to more easily customise the products to client specifications.
3. Multi-model lines: Flexibility in delivering product variants from the same line.
4. New Supply Chain Network: Manufacturing becoming more micro to cater to individual needs and no more mass produce concept, should assess various tiers of suppliers and add multiple suppliers not only in terms of the number of suppliers, but also in terms of geography, to and add diversity to their supply chain.
With Make in India 2.0 package, manufacturers can rethink their supply chains, act about things more broadly, build robust action plans, and be in a much better position than ever before to monitor pinch points – establishing truly an Atmanirbhar manufacturing system.
Technology at the right intersection
Technology today is at the right intersection towards building Atmanirbhar and Anti-Fragile manufacturing system. Prior to pandemic situation, Industry 4.0 and related technology adoption was limited to POC/MVP and scale factor was largely missing. The Black Swan moment has made manufacturers relook into their whole digital transformation strategy and with the disruptions in their whole value chain, there is strong conviction to invest and build an Anti- Fragile system.
Starting with Digital Journey: Even though it sounds basic, the fact is that paper and manual processes control most manufacturing operations today. Making the processes digital is the foundational element for building an anti-fragile system. This will help decision-makers to spot problems quicker and make informed choices to manage disruptions. Landscape with IIoT platform or similar frameworks: In a fairly established manufacturing corporate, the IT landscape within manufacturing companies is unique from other businesses. Foremost is the large number of disparate applications in use. A single plant can easily reach 100+ stand-alone applications, in addition to ERP and other systems. The reference architecture model of Industry 4.0 can help convergence and develop new set of tools and new way to
approach business process including Lean Manufacturing, Product Lifecycle management, Real-time Enterprise, Demand Driven Manufacturing and Intelligent Supply Chains. Factory Automation: Industrial Automation is today a key pillar of every manufacturing organisation strategy. Automation will ensure the plants are highly connected, intelligent, and ultimately, more productive.
Leveraging new-age Industry 4.0 technology
Sensorisation: In brownfield plants, there are legacy machines to support operations. First step towards making them smart is by sensorisation, thereby enabling machine inter-connectivity. Sensors are cost-effective ways to measure variables such as temperature, moisture, air quality, motion and vibration. This enables equipment to auto-detect issues providing visibility into machine conditions and improve productivity.
Vision Factory: Vision based solutions is emerging as an integral part of the connected factory. Recent advances in machine learning and image processing have enabled new manufacturing use cases that are no longer limited to structured, repetitive tasks. AI-assisted vision platforms are capable of functioning in complex environments. They work continuously and in conjunction with operators, leading to improved efficiency, fewer errors, and better throughput. For example, vision systems are able to:
1. Monitor the fill level of bottles on bottling line, detecting deviations from standards and automatically initiating a corrective action.
2. Detecting quality defects in machined parts too subtle for the human eye, and
3. Processing continuous visual information at a superhuman rate.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI is core to digital factory. AI based use cases provides many benefits, including troubleshooting production bottlenecks, tracking scrap rates, meeting customer delivery dates, and more. It's an excellent source of contextually relevant data that can be used for training machine learning models. Supervised and unsupervised machine learning algorithms can interpret multiple production shifts, real-time data in seconds and discover previously unknown processes, products, and workflow patterns.
Augmented Reality: There is increased traction with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) post pandemic. From training new workforce into manufacturing process, newer adoption for facilitating expert assistance in distributed operations to quality assurance in manufacturing environments. AR/VR solutions is seen as a solution to address the prevalent skill gaps but saving companies both time and money.
Technology based Material/Asset tracking: Warehouse digitisation with RTLS, BLE, RFID, QR code, GPS, and other sensors are enabling visibility and control over Inventory. Real-time inventory management prevents excess ordering of raw materials, stocking of goods and derive operational cost benefits.
Digital Twin, Blockchain, Robotics and Smart Wearables: These and other technology solutions aligned to a defined reference model, are ensuring factory is digitally connected, integrated to the overall value chain and most importantly providing workforce in the plant a safe work environment and also enabling them to achieve higher productivity.
Anti-Fragile System for new business models
As we are living in the age of uncertainty and newer business models disrupting operations, the system designed should be flexible to accommodate the new market needs, like Manufacturing as a Service, Product as a Service, Equipment as a Service, Maintenance as a Service, Integration as a Service, etc., leading to servitisation of manufacturing. The new X-economies and shift now from B2B to B2B2C is driving manufacturing to better understand customer needs, become more agile, and deliver amazing customer experiences.
Finally, the opportunity presents manufacturing in India, be both Atmanirbhar and Anti-Fragile by leveraging the data from vast stores including supply chain operations, plant-floor systems, connected products, and customer-facing activities and creating an intelligent workplace by arming workers with real-time insights, optimising processes using digital twins, and augmenting employee skills with AI, mixed-reality interaction models, robots, and cobots and thereby establishing an intelligent value chain.
Let me conclude with one of Einstein’s famous quotes: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” – we now must learn to see the world anew.
Navaneeth AN is an Industry 4.0 practitioner with over 18 years of experience and an accomplished track record in Manufacturing/Supply chain Digital transformation, Management Consulting, Product Engineering, Practice Development, and strong Industry knowledge. Navaneeth is currently working with Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions as Senior Manager in Digital Advisory (Connected Industry).