Digitisation changes man­u­fac­tur­ing par­a­digm in In­dia

Auto components India - - COVER STORY - Story by: Bhar­gav TS

In­dus­try 4.0, big data, the In­ter­net of Things (Iot) and the dig­i­tal fac­tory are terms be­ing pitched around lately. It would be in­ter­est­ing to look at their ori­gin and see how the con­cepts they rep­re­sent are chang­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ing par­a­digm in In­dia. Orig­i­nat­ing in Ger­many, In­dus­try 4.0 was planned as a co­or­di­nated ini­tia­tive of the IT world, uni­ver­si­ties and var­i­ous man­u­fac­tur­ing as­so­ci­a­tions, de­signed to re­shape in­dus­try. Now be­ing adopted glob­ally, In­dus­try 4.0, seeks to com­bine the phys­i­cal, vir­tual, IT and cy­ber sys­tems, to cre­ate a new en­vi­ron­ment in the work­place. The 4.0 part of the name refers to the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, the pre­de­ces­sors be­ing mech­a­ni­sa­tion, mass pro­duc­tion and com­put­er­i­sa­tion, which led to the mod­ern con­cepts of IT and au­to­ma­tion.

In­dus­try 4.0 is less about the fu­ture and more about a vi­brant col­lab­o­ra­tion among IT, ma­chine builders, in­dus­trial au­to­ma­tion in­te­gra­tors and mo­tion con­trol sup­pli­ers. This last group is es­pe­cially im­por­tant be­cause their prod­ucts func­tion at the heart of the ma­chines, si­mul­ta­ne­ously ef­fect­ing mo­tion, then gath­er­ing and trans­mit­ting the rel­e­vant data to the ap­pro­pri­ate con­trol link in the com­pany’s in­fra­struc­ture. With the re­cent, rapid ex­pan­sion of ap­pli­ca­tion-spe­cific in­te­grated cir­cuit (ASIC) ca­pa­bil­ity, much more func­tion­al­ity can be built into a prod­uct to­day and this means the man­u­fac­tur­ing com­mu­nity must be even more flex­i­ble and re­spon­sive, not merely re­ac­tive, than ever be­fore.

There­fore, the key is get­ting ap­pro­pri­ate data to those who need it the most. The mo­bile de­vice, tablet, cell phone and now the hu­man-ma­chine-in­ter­face (HMI) are all use­ful tools in trans­mit­ting the most im­por­tant data from the shop floor to the top floor, or just down the hall to the front of­fice. (Even the small shop owner has to heed this trend and re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately).

Ac­cord­ing to an in­dus­try ex­pert, “In the mo­tion con­trol and com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­form world, where cus­tomers task us with the con­trol, gen­er­a­tion or ap­pli­ca­tion of move­ment on ev­ery­thing from a ma­chine tool to an au­to­mo­tive assem­bly line, we see a great va­ri­ety of needs among orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers (OEMs) as well as end-users. All of them re­quire flex­i­bil­ity and of­ten highly cus­tomised solutions for their man­u­fac­tur­ing or pro­cess­ing chal­lenges. Plus, main­tain­ing high pro­duc­tiv­ity on ag­ing equip­ment con­cerns ev­ery com­pany. Is it bet­ter to retro­fit an ex­ist­ing ma­chine or buy a new one? What is the best mix of ro­bots and skilled op­er­a­tors? Is the an­swer bet­ter as­set man­age­ment or an en­tirely new busi­ness model? Our an­swers must be based not only on prod­uct, but also on soft­ware, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, bus pro­to­col and other ar­eas of ex­per­tise.”

He fur­ther said, “Like­wise, the is­sue of cy­ber­se­cu­rity can­not be un­der­stated, as we will soon see a shift from the open to the closed cloud for data stor­age in a fac­tory or shop net­work. Pro­tect­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty re­mains para­mount on a global scale to­day. This ef­fort must in­volve the sup­pli­ers also. While

tech­nol­ogy is key, com­pa­nies are most pro­duc­tive when they can trust their sup­pli­ers, es­pe­cially those who pro­mote a “de­fence in depth” ap­proach to cy­ber­se­cu­rity.”

An­other key area is en­ergy man­age­ment. The more a ma­chine can do with less en­ergy, the more ef­fi­cient and prof­itable it be­comes. For ex­am­ple, the sim­ple no­tion of re­gen­er­a­tive en­ergy (us­ing an elec­tri­cal mo­tor to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity as it slows to a stop) can be mon­i­tored and ma­nip­u­lated by to­day’s smart drives, putting power back onto the grid or us­ing it to run an­other equip­ment.

Lastly, safety must be con­sid­ered a pri­or­ity in dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, not only be­cause it pro­tects work­ers, but also it con­trib­utes to over­all ef­fi­ciency and the profit pic­ture. Fewer ac­ci­dents hap­pen when re­pairs are made promptly and equip­ment is re­placed be­fore a mal­func­tion hurts some­one. Both pre­ven­tive and pre­dic­tive main­te­nance pro­to­cols must be im­ple­mented.

A con­nected dig­i­tal fac­tory and the big data it gen­er­ates pro­vide man­u­fac­tur­ers with the in­sight and agility re­quired to com­pete. Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion gives man­u­fac­tur­ers the ca­pa­bil­ity to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity across their en­tire value chain, from de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing to pro­duc­tion, sales and ser­vice, with in­te­grated feed­back through­out the process. The re­sults are faster time-to-mar­ket, greater flex­i­bil­ity and higher avail­abil­ity of sys­tems on the plant floor. Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion can be a flex­i­ble process, adopted at a pace that fits the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Some man­u­fac­tur­ers start with retrofits or may be­gin by dig­i­tal­is­ing one area of the shop or even one ma­chine at a time. What­ever path a com­pany chooses to be­come dig­i­tally in­te­grated, the time to start is now.

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