Over the last few years, connected technologies have made inroads into all major industries and are set to disrupt the manufacturing sector too. The fourth industrial revolution, also termed ‘Industry 4.0’ (or I4.0) is about using emerging technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Machine Learning (ML) and cloud computing, amongst others. It encompasses concepts such as smart factory and smart manufacturing.
Manufacturing holds the key to realizing the target of India becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024. Government initiatives like Digital India and Make in India are adding impetus to the Indian manufacturing industry.
The Smart Advanced Manufacturing and Rapid Transformation Hub (SAMARTH) Udyog Bharat 4.0 initiative spearheaded by the Department of Heavy Industry, Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises aims at enhancing awareness about manufacturing 4.0 within the Indian manufacturing industry and help stakeholders address the challenges related to smart manufacturing So, what will it take for India to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to smart manufacturing? Below are some key technologies that can transform manufacturing in India:
Internet of Things (IoT) plays a key role in digital transformation. When the fundamentals of IoT technologies are applied to the manufacturing industry, it is called Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and it is a major disruptor.
The usage of IIoT in manufacturing is on the rise thanks to the reduced cost of hardware and software components including sensors, cloud computing and analytics tools.
The sensors on the IIoT solution are capable of collecting vital information from various entities in the manufacturing plant along with data from other sources like energy management systems, ecosystems (vendors, suppliers), and other third-party systems.
Manufacturing plants and factories have to embrace automation to stay relevant in the long run. AI-driven machines add significant value to the manufacturing process as they enable automation of tasks, enhance production efficiency, and bring machine interaction closer to human interaction.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) and Autonomous Mobile Robots are being used extensively in optimization activities related to logistics and supply chain. Industrial robots can be programmed to move materials, perform assembly and inspection, and execute repetitive and mundane tasks in manufacturing. The usage of robots results in improved efficiency, reduced costs, and better production flexibility.
Collaborative Robots (Cobots) are robots that are designed to collaborate with human workers. Cobots can play a vital role in optimizing assembly operations and improving manufacturing production cycles through their accuracy, speed, reach, and any material handling capacity. Cobots empower human workers as their implementation allows the labor force to be trained in new skills thereby acquiring a competitive edge in the workforce.
Big data is common in industries like retail, healthcare and Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) and in the manufacturing sector. The intention of using big data in manufacturing is to arrive at informed decisions based on all the data that is collected. Data from various sources i.e. sensors, maintenance, design, and quality can be combined, churned and analyzed to take appropriate decisions. Manufacturing companies also have a big data strategy as it can help drive efficiency and improve processes.
Industrial 3D printing (also called additive manufacturing) is poised to transform the manufacturing sector in India.
It provides cost-effectiveness with its focus on lean manufacturing. Industries like automotive, defense, healthcare, and aerospace have been early adopters of 3D printing in India. While earlier, it was primarily used in prototyping by engineers who could analyze their design in the physical structure, 3D printing is now an integral part of manufacturing cycle.
If India’s manufacturing economy has to reach $1 trillion by 2025, manufacturing units need to transform into ‘smart manufacturing units. Incorporating these technologies can have a significant impact on efficiency and business.