No new age manufacturing can survive without Industry 4.0 ecosystem
Published on : Wednesday 04-01-2023
Rajesh Rathi, Managing Director, Control Infotech Group.
Do you feel that India has finally caught up in deployment of automatic machines and processes at all levels of Industry? Which verticals are ahead and which are lagging?
Covid and the setbacks to China in their strong area of Manufacturing have created many opportunities for India. However, no new age manufacturing can survive without the Industry 4.0 ecosystem. The hesitation is on account of insecurity from cyber attacks and data pilferage. Cybersecurity is the primary requirement for the plant owners to proceed in this direction.
Verticals that are already well established in operational automation are now looking to optimise their productivity and quality issues are ahead.
Manufacturing has operated for a long time in silos of the verticals. Smart Manufacturing actually tries to change this idea towards networking and collaboration. What are the big stumbling blocks in M2M communication and also sharing of data between departments?
Awareness of low cost data and cloud space and resources such as M2M SIM cards are still lacking not only on the use side but also on the supplier sides.
While there are several platforms offering visualisation solutions, the physical infrastructure and standards are still evolving.
In Smart Manufacturing, two topics find frequent mention. The first is OEE – which can be measured by through-put or capacity utilisation. The second topic is Quality. Is the emphasis same for different types of manufacturing?
Not really. OEE is required for large machine shops or assembly lines. There are often other environments where condition monitoring of expensive capital assets is equally important. Examples are in oil and gas and infrastructure like Aviation and Railways. Incidentally, the above examples are only from Discrete manufacturing whereas Industry 4.0 equally applies to process automation.
Many manufacturing industries have a machine shop at the core for generating structures and products. There are new technologies for metal cutting like lasers, water jets, etc. How does this affect the traditional machine tools industry? Secondly, would additive manufacturing make a mainstream impact or stay restricted to rapid prototyping?
It’s not necessary that Industry 4.0 has to be applied to the last of the manufacturing machines or the plants. By the time plant owners’ finish applying it to the assets easily available for the I4.0 upgrades, such older machines may be depreciated enough for replacements with their smarter versions.
The transformation can be well calibrated to the cash flow of the enterprise. I4.0 gains and savings can be applied progressively for such investments.
Industry 4.0 brings with it the concept of small batch size manufacturing to cater for a wide range of product spectrum. Traditional machine tools are geared for large volume high speed production and not so well suited for short production runs. What will change?
Small lot manufacturing enabled by I4.0 can now lead to rapid customisation done to a single unit of the product such as cars or computers.
PLCs enabled flexibility of change in the operational sequence and interlocks a single machine. Now I4.0 will render the same flexibility to an entire manufacturing or assembly line.
Are the concepts of Smart Manufacturing predominant in private industry? Do they equally apply for public sector manufacturers? Do large companies actually nudge their vendors to imbibe these concepts and technologies?
In my opinion the benefits of I4.0 make a lot more sense for large manufacturing environments. Since data collection is a cumbersome process in large plants, there is a big lag between the realisation of the loopholes and applying corrections to them.
Since in India many such enterprises are owned and operated by the government, adoption of I4.0 by the PSUs is vital to our economy.
It's heartening to note that while increasingly private companies are asking their plant and machinery suppliers to supply I4.0 aligned capital goods but also PSUs are being more alert and moving their supply chains to adopt it at grassroot levels in India.
Non profit organisations like ISA and publications like IED can accelerate this process by creating special communication lines to such PSUs. It is our moral obligation.
Rajesh Rathi, Managing Director, Control Infotech Group, is a B.Tech – Electrical Engineering from IIT Madras (1982) and has an MS in Computer Engineering from University of Houston, TX (1984). Rajesh started his career in the USA with Molytek, Inc., in Pittsburgh, USA working on Data Acquisition systems for industrial process control applications. He returned to India to continue his work in the same segment with interfacing third party equipment with Yokogawa Distributed Control Systems in the capacity as Asst. manager. In 1990 Rajesh took the entrepreneurial plunge. He has remained that ever since.
Today Rajesh operates two businesses in India and one in the USA:
1. Control Infotech Pvt Ltd in India operates in the area of Industrial Automation, IIoT based Industrial Digital transformation, Military Grade Power distribution panels, Smart Grid and Natural Gas based power generation.
2. Control Infotech Inc., in the US operates in the areas of Industrial and Substation Automation, Microgrid controls and Critical Power. Onsite Power Solutions deals with and
3. GasTech Solutions Pvt Ltd is a green energy company helping diesel engines to run with a mixture of Diesel and natural Gas. The result is cleaner emission and reduced cost.
Rajesh was acknowledged as SME Entrepreneur in North Carolina in 2005, from President, USA.
(The views expressed in interviews are personal, not necessarily of the organisations represented)