Driving Sustainable Manufacturing through IIoT

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We all know that automation in manufacturing is not new, yet manufacturing sector in India is still in the nascent stages of adopting automation. Many manufacturing players in India are stuck between Industry 2.0 – 3.0 due to various factors such as high cost of automation, dependency on manual processes, lack of awareness of latest technologies, low production etc. unlike other countries like Germany, USA, Japan, Singapore that are reaping benefits of industry 4.0 adoption.

Manufacturing sector contribution to India’s GDP is not very significant (16%) as compared to services (54.77%), agriculture and allied sector (17.76%) and it offers greater potential to make India self-reliant especially in post COVID-19 world.

One of the most powerful drivers that has contributed to the emergence of technological advancements in the Manufacturing sector in India is Government’s increasing focus on the concept of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ or ‘Self-reliant India’ or ‘Vocal for Local’ specially after the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemonium.  It is evident there is an increased push from the government to create a healthy environment to promote manufacturing sector in India. For instance, Government of India has increased the contribution of manufacturing output to 25% of GDP by 2025 from 16% currently. They have also announced some production linked incentives to attract companies to set up manufacturing plants:  smartphone manufacturers, electronic makers, food processing companies etc. and plan to offer more such incentives in days to come, which will definitely push the ‘Make in India’ campaign.

Moreover, other factors such as mounting pressure to cut cost, increase efficiency in processes; reduce dependence on humans by manufacturers led them to explore automation options. Though we know the benefits of smart manufacturing, it is imperative to address key gaps that will move India from Industry 2.0/3.0 to Industry 4.0.  Reflecting on the current scenario, I believe the use of emerging technologies in manufacturing industry is still in its infancy in India, but trends indicate that the field could soon accelerate and play a key role in making India self-reliant. Traditionally, the focus has been on the services sector but for India to fulfill its economic ambitions, it is vital to invest focus towards manufacturing. It is important for the manufacturing industry to re-think and re-align their strategies and operations with the latest technology innovation towards the goal of Atmanirbhar Bharat.

According to a new study by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) would be the most important technologies in 2021. Manufacturing (19%), healthcare (18%), financial services (15%) and education (13%) are the industries that most believe would be impacted by technology. Thus, the foremost thing that we need to consider is to automate factories through the right set of technologies.  The technology space has witnessed major transformations in the last few years & the one I would like to talk about is Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) which is the sub category of Internet of Things (IoT).

The demand for IoT in India is emerging across industries such as utilities, manufacturing, automotive, transportation and logistics. IIoT uses a data-driven approach to drive efficiency into the industries. It involves use of sensors, interconnected devices and cloud data to drive industrial performance through wide range of tools.  IoT is expected to add value to business processes and take value creation for industrial applications to the next level, specifically in the case of Manufacturing.

For instance, Environment Sustainability and Climate Change Accounting has taken a big leap by leveraging IIoT solutions. These solutions help in connecting various environment sensors, energy meters, and production systems to provide real time analytics on each industry attribution to monitor climate change and overall pollution in the environment. Clear dashboards are now available to every decision maker to make informed choices on how to reduce the carbon footprint and contribute to overall improvement of the environment. A clear and improved governance model on such tracking systems enables clear accountability across various stakeholders and prevents any illegal disposal of sensitive hazardous waste. These solutions bring a direct impact to overall wellbeing of the nation.

There is a growing trend in sustainability-driven innovation in the manufacturing sector and I believe that technology will play a major role in accelerating this trend. Covid-19 has put forth an opportunity for industries and companies to reinvent their products and services to meet new demands and achieve market advantages through sustainability initiatives. If utilized accurately, IIoT can play a major role in bolstering the manufacturing sector. In fact, IIoT can have a tangible benefit to sustainability. Organizations must invest time to understand how efficiently IIoT can be deployed to lower the use of their resources. One major barrier with organizations is the lack of knowledge on how to deploy IIoT/what to do with the technology. Therefore understanding the technology first will enable to design sustainable strategies for the long run.

Another important aspect to make manufacturing socially inclusive is via industry academia partnership. This will generate a demand for innovation. Most manufacturing players have a good understanding of various systems and processes that needs to be followed in their sectors, however, collaboration between industry and academia will bring the best of both worlds to an open platform.

Encouraging vocational education and training programs in partnership with educational institutes will ensure a continuous supply of highly qualified talent. This will also enable the students who could be prospect employees to prepare for a career in the manufacturing sector by gaining a deeper understanding of the technologies used in smart manufacturing. With digital disruption, it is vital for all industries including manufacturing to reinvent existing processes to survive and stay ahead in the innovation game.  Hence, the right kind of partnership will help.

Government is taking a lot of initiatives to boost manufacturing in India, however, there needs to be proper and timely implementation of the same otherwise we will lag behind. Additionally, Government must provide enough favorable schemes and incentives so that more and more companies adopt automation.

Industry 4.0 technologies have the potential to address various environmental challenges such as climate change, resource exhaustion, and environmental protection. For instance, IIoT can play a vital role in driving sustainability in industrial manufacturing. This can be achieved via leveraging the technology to develop/build better and sustainable products which in turn benefits the environment and society at large. On the other note, while we are all talking about India moving towards being considered a global manufacturing hub, the question that pops up is the country actually ready for this recognition in terms of Industry 4.0? India’s race against vaccine production during COVID-19 is a classic example that demonstrate its capability, ingenuity and yes a success of Make in India campaign, similarly more such examples can be achieved and this is an opportune time.

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By Sudheesh Narayanan, Founder & CEO, Knowledge Lens

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