The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and Industry 4.0 adoption in India. It has moved from nice to have to must have, from niche to urgent and critical.
Meetings, Documents, Payments, QA, Inspection, Maintenance, Services & Repair, Training as well as other operations, all have gone through different levels of digitization in the past 6 months.
The mindset has now moved from resisting change to embracing technology; from evaluating it in terms of ROI to embracing it to survive….and prosper…
The panel on Emerging Role of Remote Technologies in Plant Operations at the VAMRR REMOTE PRODUCTIVITY SUMMIT – PLANT OPERATIONS EDITION held on 10 Sep 2020, featured distinguished speakers with the experience, expertise sharing their insights and perspectives …
Anand Gurnani | Founder, VAMRR Technologies
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION, ADOPTION OF REMOTE TECHNOLOGIES HAS ACCELERATED DUE TO COVID 19.
Kickstarting the discussion, Anudeep Garg, Plant Manager, Automotive Braking Systems, AMS, Continental India suggested that the pandemic had rather acted as a catalyst. “Remote tech adoption that was to happen in the next 5 years happened in a mere 3 months!” he exclaimed. Giving an example he shared that the Jidoka (a Lean manufacturing principle that ensures that quality is automatically built into a production process.) had been conveniently digitized into an “e-Jidoka”.
Naresh Kumar Gaur, SVP, Mfg. at Amneal pointed that his company being in the pharmaceutical sector, was functional throughout the lockdown.
He shared “Due to the regulations placed on the movement of human capital, the exchange of documents has become digitized” also adding that meetings and conferences had changed radically as more and more organizations started using video conferencing software. Furthermore, Mr. Gaur stated that organizations had become more agile and flexible due to the pandemic and that has remote technologies have played an important role. According to his expert opinion, in these times, “automation and remote tech is not a luxury, rather a tool for survival”
Manoj Badave, Sr Manager, Plant Engineering at TATA Motors Ltd. Pune, agreed as well, resonating that remote tech and automation had truly become ‘the need of the hour’.
“As a plant engineer working on projects at the plant level, me or my peers would never ever have imagined productively working from home and managing things remotely, but it’s happening”. Mr Badave also shared that digitization was happening across the spectrum of functions. “Payment processes with vendors also underwent digitization. Meetings have become remote and digitized” he said, adding “in fact the success rate of remote meetings has increased dramatically according to many surveys” to which the other panelists agreed in unison.
Besides remote technologies, Mr Badave also cast a light on the human spirit and ability to respond to situations. He said that his teams at the plant had pro-actively and indigenously developed automated systems for sanitization and scanning and they were in place as the first lockdown opened up.
Voicing his opinion next, Abhay Kumar Srivastava, President of Operations at Mankind Pharma seconded Industry 4.0, Remote Tech & Digital Transformation were the way to go. “Many plants are in remote places and remote technologies increase visibility as well as productivity” he opined. “Digital transformation and Industry 4.0 have been around for years, waiting in the wings, but now the pandemic has finally resulted into a faster adoption to remain competitive. What was considered as a niche before has now become urgent and critical”
PROCESSES THAT HAVE BEEN DIGITIZED
Mr Srivastava, pointed that 3 types of business movements had been required to be digitized during COVID. They were Documents, Financial Movements, Operational resource movements.
“Due to the pandemic and the adaption of Remote Tech, documents like e-Jidoka and e-BMR (Batch Manufacturing Record) and e-logs have now become the norm” Next pointing at the affinity that Industry has for writing cheques vis a vis digital payment processes, he highlighted that because courier services were not operational, over 3 months’ worth of payments were stacked up in cheques and digitalization of payments became very important in order to maintain the flow.
Mr. Badave pointed out about remote trainings that the company undertook for their employees to cope with the turbulent times. These included remote stress management and meditation trainings
FASTER MACHINE REPAIR, LESSER DOWNTIME WITH REMOTE ASSIST TECHNOLOGIES
Speaking about the critical issue of fast machine repair and lesser downtime, Mr Gaur shared that a lot of the manufacturing machines at Amneal were high end equipment from Europe and the US. In the case of any breakdowns, the service teams were able to take the machines on-line and provide remote assistance from their homes and offices.
Mr Gaur emphasized that regardless of equipment being from local or international manufacturers, in today’s times, being equipped with remote repair and service technologies was paramount to continuous uptime.
Giving his view in 3 points, Mr. Anudeep Garg first talked about the general mindset that communication done face to face, in a room is superior and more effective. But since the lockdown, they had to adapt and brainstorming sessions, workshops were done remotely.
The second point was how certain practices that previously were done on the premise had to evolve and adapt. Physical line audits and inspections were now being done virtually using Remote Tech.
ADOPTION OF AUGMENTED REALITY
“Another technology which we started using was Augmented Reality” shared Mr Garg, “I bought an AR glass 3 years ago, but the utilization was very less. But in the pandemic, we started using it in a prolific manner.
Normally you have experts to diagnose machines and repair problems. They travel and come to the plant. But now with Augmented reality, experts from anywhere in India or the world, can connect with the technicians and see the machines virtually and guide the technicians to repair.
Mr. Garg then talked about the way his maintenance team utilized Augmented Reality for (Requesting a quote on this?) Mr. Garg also mentioned how an activity that traditionally required a human presence such as the Gemba Walk was done virtually.
ADOPTION – ITS ALL ABOUT THE MINDSET
Mr. Anudeep Garg articulated brilliantly that for most people the main hindrance that prevails in adoption of any technology is the mindset of the people involved in the process. He reaffirmed that the Technology is there in the market, and it is just the mindset of the people that is not allowing them to adapt.
Data Protection and cybersecurity, protection of patents and IPR remain to be challenges as more and more data centric, digital technology is adopted.
Mr. Naresh Kumar Gaur spoke next and built on Mr. Garg’s view on mindset. He brilliantly explained how workers are often skeptical about new technology are reluctant to change. Whereas the same workers are very effectively and easily able to use the latest mobile phones. Mr. Gaur gave an example of the street vendors who started to take orders, payments and conduct their business through their mobile apps during lockdown. He added that if street vendors can operate their businesses remotely through their mobile, there should be no problem for a trained individual to learn and adopt to new technology. Mr. Gaur also stated that Technology by its merit is meant to ease day to day activities and so companies need to engage, motivate and train their employees to learn and adopt effectively.
Mr Gaur shared that adoption of digital transformation and Industry 4.0 had become so critical and important that it even went beyond the subject of ROI. How does one calculate the ROI of technology without which it will be difficult to adapt and survive?, he hinted.
Also be patient. If you want fruits, you plant seeds and wait for the plant to grow. Technology has its fruits. It has immediate benefits, but some benefits surface with time.
FROM A LINEAR TO A CIRCULAR MODEL
Mr. Srivastava stated that Remote Technology has the potential to transform the supply chain to a value chain and from a linear to a circular model where every aspect of the supply chain compliments each another. He added that in such a supply chain visibility and connectivity will boost effective plant operations. Mr. Srivastava also claimed that Remote Technology will eliminate the lag time and most efficient utilization of the resources on hand will be possible.
USING REMOTE TECH TO BRING ENGINEERING STUDENTS CLOSER TO GETTING INDUSTRY READY & FUTURE READY.
Mr. Badave made a case for remote technologies also being used for training students. “Students across engineering and technology courses need to be more exposed to practical industry related training using remote technologies. They also need to be exposed to the latest in Industry 4.0 and Digital transformation, so they can be future ready.”
Indeed, the involvement of remote technologies is surging in plant operations, and the adoption is going to be on an upward trajectory for a long time to come.
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Post by – Paranjey Patel, Business Team, VAMRR Technologies.
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