Many organisations have already adopted hybrid mode of working
Published on : Monday 10-01-2022
Swaminathan Vangal Ramamurthy, General Manager, OMRON Automation Centre/Robotics, OMRON Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, Singapore
While Covid triggered the supply chain disruption, it now continues in various forms and for different reasons. What could be the solution?
This is an unprecedented situation on a global level and its impacting makers’ ability to deliver to customers. Manufacturers worldwide are trying to take care of it by adopting measures like increasing the production capacity, redesigning products so as to move away from hard-to-find components, renegotiating with suppliers to increase allocated production volume, etc. However it might take some more time for us to see more improvements.
How is the outlook for 2022 and ahead in terms of technology and outlook for the manufacturing sector, given that a lot of lessons have been learned during the last two years?
The upcoming era or next few years are all going to be more about ‘autonomy’ rather than more ‘automation’. There is going to be a remarkable shift from the basic smart manufacturing concepts of machine centricity, IoT device connectivity to ‘connecting abilities’ empowered with the novel concept of ‘Internet of Abilities’ (IoA) based on human centricity.
The last few years have manifested many notable things that the manufacturing world is undergoing. With the concept of glocalisation replacing globalisation, mass customisation is getting side-tracked with personalised manufacturing mandates. With climate changes and an unprecedented situation like Covid in tow, consumption orientation is getting replaced with sustenance orientation. Also post pandemic, the makers are now pondering over social needs, more than ever, rather than only industry and production-based needs. All this, in turn, is demanding the data efficiency driven systems to do more and fetch more sustainable results by transitioning to knowledge driven systems.
And so, keeping in sync, the smart manufacturing ecosystem is all set to take a leap too. It can’t just stay the way it is. As of now, a typical smart ecosystem’s core is made up of a smart factory that has many industrial automation elements taking advantage of technologies like artificial intelligence, Industry 4.0, etc., striving to meet ever increasing demand for products with better quality, cost and delivery.
However, the coming years will witness a social-need driven and sustainability-based transformation of the manufacturing world that would definitely need more than this typical smart factory-based ecosystem offers. It will need to get connected with sustainable resources , integrated with Logistics 4.0 to enable fully integrated and interconnected supply chain, ensuring impeccable and timely material supply; personalised manufacturing which is on-demand yet has mass production efficiencies and a flexibility to cater high-mix-low-volume scenarios; big data to catalyse human creativity and bring in more collaborative manufacturing opportunities; and last but not the least strong cyber security providing protection for internet-based and connected production systems and so on.
All this demands a super harmonious bond between humans and machines which is imperative to enrich the lives of people in the autonomous society leading to sustainability and so IoA – the futuristic and essential component is going to play a very important role in the transformation.
The new smart manufacturing eco-system based on IoA is going to be a hyper-connected thinking factory, which is self-optimising, self-healing and happy. The term ‘happy factory’ is hitherto unheard and surprising to many of us! Happiness is a state that we, generally, associate with a B2C or consumer mind-set. But the new smart manufacturing ecosystem based on IoA has the potential not only to set up a happiness index for factories but also make them score high! OMRON strongly believes in the concept of creating ‘Happy Factories’ with its wide and advanced range of ILOR+S solutions.
With new strains of the virus appearing periodically, is the WFH culture here to stay and become a permanent feature?
Yes, keeping in view the health and safety of employees, I feel it is going to stay. In fact, many organisations have already adopted hybrid modes of working where employees are given the flexibility to work from home or office depending on the communication and collaboration requirements.
Swaminathan Vangal Ramamurthy is responsible for integrating robotics into mainstream automation business at OMRON Asia Pacific. He established the Regional Automation Tech Centre at Singapore as a ‘Live lab’ to support Smart manufacturing initiatives, and is the media spokesperson for Asia Pac Headquarters. Swaminathan is also responsible for devising strategic regional mid-term expansion plans for the Division and effectively presenting information, ideas, perspective, and thoughts to peers, team members, diverse set of internal customers and partners including executives and staff.