IoT components can be leveraged to enable a healthcare system
Published by : Industrial Automation
Krishna Shanbhag, Manager, Automation Projects.
How uniform is the Smart trend in India given the wide disparity?
By many measures, India is well on its way to becoming a smart economy with one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing bases of digital consumers and is growing faster than many mature and emerging economies. Dedicated efforts by government bodies and innovations of private sectors has helped bring internet-enabled services to millions of consumers and made online usage more accessible even to the remote areas of the country. Over 68 per cent of India's population lives in rural areas. Lot of smart trends like e-commerce, e- governance services, banking and financial services, educational and healthcare services, mobile/DTH recharge, e-ticketing services, online shopping with a focused approach to cater to the needs of rural population are gaining popularity. This is only the beginning of a new wave that is impacting the bottom of the pyramid.
There are very few areas that remain untouched by the digitisation process, but there are many challenges in making the smart trends flow evenly across all the regions and all the classes of economy. The central and state governments along with the Local bodies/Municipalities must focus on the trunk infrastructure which includes uninterrupted power supply, water supply systems, sewage systems, sanitation facilities, solid waste management systems, public transport, education facilities which for many are not easily accessible in the country. These are the problems that are the fundamental problems that smart technology should solve in India.India is moving towards its targeted objective with impressive continuity and speed. Nonetheless, there is still literally way to go taking Smart Revolution from vision to practice. Navigating the emerging digital landscape
will be difficult, but it is one of the golden keys to India’s future growth and prosperity.
What are the sectors that are best prepared for the Smart revolution – transportation, energy, healthcare, etc?
A lot of companies are aggressively investing to gear up for the Smart revolution. While some companies have travelled their journey of smart revolution to some extent many others have just begun or are in the initial phase of beginning the transformational journey. Out of all, some sectors seem to be ready for smart revolution: Consumer Goods: Four digital transformation trends are playing vital role in the smart revolution of consumer
industries, viz., consumer data flow and value capture, experience economy, omni-channel retail and digital operating model that we expect to play an important role in the future evolution of consumer industries.
Logistics: Digitisation has enabled transportation businesses to increase their efficiency and bolstering their supply chain management. By employing the combination of IoT-led and AI-enabled technologies such as machine learning, cloud computing, along with real-time data analytics, logistics players have been able to significantly reduce the fleet downtime, predict customer behaviour and address any issue in real-time. Media & Entertainment: On-demand entertainment has already replaced traditional TV as the medium of choice for the new-age people. Companies in this space are actively using technologies including AI, natural language processing (NLP), and data analytics to deliver immersive, engaging, and personalised digital content to users.
Healthcare: Technology has enabled the IT teams in hospitals to store and analyse patient records, and derive key insights based on their medical history with enhanced accuracy. The integration of robotic implements has resulted in the increased precision and success rates of various medical procedures including surgeries, disease detection, diagnostics, pre-emptive healthcare delivery, and many more. E-commerce: The booming e-commerce sector has technology to thank for its outstanding growth. As various e-commerce platforms have now entered the picture, each company is leveraging technology to differentiate itself while focusing on engaging more consumers and maximising user satisfaction. Some of the innovations driving this sector’s growth are SEO and data analytics, among others.
Banking Financial Services and Insurance: Recently, various banks, non-banks, and fintech companies have joined hands to deliver faster, presence-less, and hassle-free financial services to users. New-age users can now conduct instant, paperless transactions thanks to technological innovations such as Unified Payment Interface (UPI), net banking, etc. Further, banks are also adopting technologies such as blockchain, biometrics, and one- time passwords (OTPs) to bolster their security infrastructure and make transactions more transparent.
Talking of healthcare in general, Covid-19 in particular, can IoT play a bigger role?
The modern medical technology and the IoT components can be leveraged to enable a healthcare system to deal with disease outbreaks. However, they are fragmented and not yet seamlessly connected. Therefore, the system needs to be able to build up its infrastructure quickly so that the system can scale and expand for disease tracking, preventive quarantine, and the in-patient care of the infected. Drones are already used for public surveillance to ensure quarantine and the wearing of masks. In one reported instance, a healthcare worker had patients standing in their apartment balconies, so that he could fly a drone up to take their temperatures with an infrared thermometer. AI has also been used to predict future outbreak areas.
IoT can be used to trace the origin of an outbreak. Overlaying geographic information system (GIS) on IoT mobile data from infected patients can assist epidemiologists in their search for patient zero; also, it can help identify all the persons who have come into contact with the infected patients and may, therefore, also be infected. IoT can also be used to ensure patient compliance once the potentially infected persons enter into quarantine. Public health personnel can monitor which patients remain quarantined, and which patients have breached the quarantine. The IoT data will also help them track down who else may be exposed due to the breach. Right now, the daily check-up of the patients is done manually by healthcare workers who go door-to-door. With IoT, the patients can have their temperatures taken and upload the data with their mobile devices to the cloud for analysis. This way, healthcare workers can not only collect more data using less time but also reduce the chance for cross-infection with the patients. IoT thus also helps to reduce the workload and increase the efficiency of the medical staff, all the while reducing the exposure of healthcare workers to infection.
Given the shortages of essentials like masks and ventilators, is it possible to have Smart Factories that can at short notice switch over to manufacture something else?
The COVID-19 crisis demands stockpiles of supplies that just don’t exist in an era of lean manufacturing and just-in-time delivery. It demands local production of essential goods in an era of global markets. The closer a product is to what a factory already makes, the more likely it is to shift into production. In a production environment there are similarities between some types of operations. For example, a medical device manufacturer uses certain basic processes such as injection moulding, laser cutting, machining, and some 3D printing. These processes are also common in a lot of appliance companies or automakers. The major difference is that appliance makers won’t have experience with the medical-grade plastics or quality controls that are required for a ventilator, and they don’t have the sterile manufacturing facilities that such equipment requires.
Deploying a smart manufacturing solution in such scenarios helps gain the required degree of flexibility within the production environment and streamline the entire production process through real-time information. The production line must be reorganised to manufacture many different products, ensuring a fast response to changing needs and customer demands. Manufacturing execution system provides a flexible and agile manufacturing and supply chain system. Intelligent manufacturing and management systems guarantee production precision and high levels of efficiency. A highly networked and data-responsive system provides real-time supply and demand information at each point in the supply chain, which can be used to inform production and logistics decisions as circumstances change, down to the hour. Manufacturers can adjust or bolster production in response to surges in demand for certain materials, looping government, healthcare and other entities into the ongoing digital supply chain conversation.
Will the Covid-19 crisis prove a boon to make a really Smart World?
The coronavirus started out as a health pandemic, but the outbreak will create long-lasting changes to the way we live and work. This situation will present opportunity majorly more sophisticated and flexible use of technology. We are in the early stages of the evolution of the world into an intelligent system that’s quick-to- react to any unexpected disruption. The social distancing and self-isolation initiatives that are currently being put in place around the world are likely to help reinforce adoption of digital technologies for meetings and conferences, there by leading to optimised travel and lesser carbon foot print due to emissions by transport modes. Going ahead, the businesses will start utilising automation, digitisation and smart applications in production and will fundamentally change the way we do business, placing a greater focus on smart technologies than ever before. The coronavirus outbreak can be expected to speed up the usage of Industry 4.0 tools such as artificial intelligence and mobile supercomputing.
The outbreak will cast the spotlight once again on the benefits of Industry 4.0 and cloud manufacturing – in particular, what manufacturers call a “high mix, low volume” solution that gives manufacturers the flexibility to produce on demand, at varying quantities, in response to orders that are made at irregular intervals, at varying amounts each time. Along with infrastructure, there is also the promise of nurturing talent to support higher-
value manufacturing processes including nano manufacturing where humans supervise from a remote operations centre in a clean room away from the dirt and dust typical of heavy-duty factories, operating from the cloud to control machines who speak to each other in another part of the smart factory. This trend is in step with manufacturers looking to attract the millennial worker and upskill older workers. Smart Technologies are not only as relevant as they were before the global Covid-19 emergency, it's actually far more relevant moving forward.
Smart Everything, but still the world appears unprepared for pandemics like Covid-19. Time to factor in contingencies?
The Covid-19 crisis has laid bare the good, the bad, and the ugly for business across the globe. National health security is fundamentally weak globally. Corona outbreak has shown no country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address. Improving country compliance with international health and security norms is essential. The most effective way to stop pandemics is with vaccines. But with Covid-19 there is no vaccine and developing vaccines is taking too long when a pandemic is already under way.
Due to the spread of Covid-19, remote work is suddenly an overnight requirement for many. Almost all organisations have implemented ‘work from home’ arrangements since the outbreak, but the biggest challenge stems from the lack of technology infrastructure and lack of comfort with new ways of working. There is also risk of data being exposed. However, manufacturing and industrial engineering industry is not prepared for working from home. In the pre- Covid-19 days, many companies that have not yet taken giant leaps into Smart revolution are considering doing some small pilots to try out technology and hopefully find something that works. There is a need to start from the top, have clear business objectives and understand which of these will translate into real, enterprise level programs that will deliver long term value.
After smart phone, which device is most likely to become integral part of daily life in future?
Smart glasses coupled with AI have the potential to be one of the most disruptive technologies to replace smartphone soon. AI powered smart glasses will enable hands-free, instantaneous communication, as well as augmented, virtual & mixed reality services (AR/VR/MR). These glasses could be paired with wearables (sensors inside clothes), attachable (digital devices attached to the skin) and implantable (sensor technology
implanted inside the body). All major technology companies including Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook are rushing to get a piece of the action. Instead of pulling a phone out of our pockets to talk to people or interact with apps, we may do these things simply by speaking to, and looking through, a set of glasses. The glasses must be fashionable and sleek enough to wear all day and everywhere you go. Technology experts hope that we’ll one day be able to replace every screen in our life with just one pair of smart glasses. Soon, it is unlikely that smart glasses will completely erase smartphones from the market. Current AR glasses pair up to a smartphone, which provides the data connectivity, storage, and bulk of the processing capabilities required by AR apps. Moving this entirely into a set of sleek, weatherproof, lightweight glasses will require several engineering breakthroughs. Dedicated AR devices, like glasses, will consume even more data about our surroundings, taking in audio and visual cues from our lives to provide and contextualise content.
Smart glasses not only find their application in every possible area where smartphones are used but they have potential to outperform smartphones in the specific fields like healthcare, digital manufacturing, personal entertainment, gaming, training so forth. There’s no getting around the fact that AR glasses will fundamentally change the way we interact with the world and each other, but also the way in which technology interacts with us.
Krishna Shanbhag is a graduate mechanical engineer with 10 years of experience in manufacturing with rich experience in handling robotics, automated warehouse, picking systems & smart manufacturing initiatives. Krishna has handled roles in manufacturing leveraging his experience in factory automation, smart factory initiatives from concept to commissioning. “I am willing to continuously learn new things and technologies. I am familiar with various advanced automation technologies, Manufacturing Execution System. I manage multiple automation projects with complete automation phase from initiating, planning, executing, controlling & reporting,” says Krishna on his expertise.