Tech Push for the Manufacturing Industry

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An entire manufacturing process has many activities and operations that should ideally be monitored and controlled at several levels of pre-, during- and post-production. A modern manufacturing system has to be able to adapt to quick internal and external changes. To this end, a variety of successful models and control techniques have been developed in the last few years, which are based on the principles and tools of information technology (IT) and management science. At the technological level the current developments in manufacturing systems stem from the advances in machine tools, robots and controllers. Both direct numerical control (DNC) and computer numerical control (CNC) use adaptive techniques to optimise machine operations, while robotic systems provide new solutions for manufacturing tasks such as material handling, assembly, welding, and spray painting. The market has a plethora of manufacturing technologies for the industry. Digital Manufacturing helps in virtual design for simulation and collaboration and engineering data integrated to production while manufacturing execution helps in integration across automation, MES, ERP, SCM, dynamic scheduling, decentralized control and M2M communications. Manufacturing Analytics helps in plant / equipment condition monitoring, Predictive Maintenance & Quality and Predictive demand while Factory IoT (Internet of Things) & Collaboration helps in an IoT platform for Machine data, Cloud platforms for Data Exchange, Analytics and Augmented reality based HMI.

Back End IT Systems

In today’s times, it is important for manufacturing companies to redesign and redefine the manufacturing process with the use of available technologies to sustain and grow in market. “Cosmo Films is also on the path of redefining the manufacturing process with the use of new technologies like IoT and machine learning’s. In Cosmo cloud based solutions are preferred for process automations. In Cosmo, SAP is used as an ERP solution. All the business processes are defined in ERP with lot of key controls which ensure no excess production and low inventory carrying cost. Key process like production, planning and quality management etc. are defined in such a way that they are interlinked and needs minimum inputs to complete the transactions. We have tried to develop an error free system, it means if user is able to complete the transaction it is validated at run time and later on no further validations are required. We have set predictive alerts so that before it happen our team have control on it. All the key information is  generated through system by using the Business Intelligence tool and not required any manual interventions for example Input Output Ratio, Production Hand Over report, various Inventory reports, Line efficiency etc. By doing this we are able to achieve more productive time of our resources. We have adopted a process of identifying the NVA’s (No Value Adding activities) and if they required being performed automating them with the use of technology,” explains Jagdip Kumar, CIO, Cosmo Films Ltd. IT systems in manufacturing setups are mainly used to provide relevant and timely information for decision making at different levels of the company hierarchy. “Our strong IT infrastructure seamlessly ties in one layer with the other so that all of the layers are interconnected in real time. Such a system is absolutely necessary for not violating regulatory or safety norms, to improve performance and quality via real-time process monitoring improving reliability through proper maintenance and up-to-date information on equipment status,” avers Prasanna Samant, Vice President, Corporate IT, Grauer & Weil (I) Ltd.

Data Analysis    

A key element is that these systems are capable of generating large volumes of data and this must be used effectively to give desired results. “Data helps us have easier access to information about how our business is running and where improvements need to be made. Data-driven manufacturing allows us to correct maintenance and quality issues and minimize safety and business risks throughout the operation. We are able to make better use of employee skills and time as well as make improvements to avoid wasteful mistakes. This not only fosters transparency across the board, but it also makes the working environment more efficient,” explains Samant. “We have built a database of last 8 years with the help of our Business Intelligence Tool. We are able to use it to generate the day to day reports which are required for middle management and shop floor team and help them to perform their task more effectively. We also use the data to build the validations and defining the various business rules and provide the reliable decision making dashboards for Top Management which help us to define our business strategies and re-validating them time to time with changing market dynamics,” adds Kumar. Machine connectivity, machine analytics, building line monitor –control, predict failure, use machine line SPC monitor for quality control are some of the highest traction use cases in the market. “Many of our manufacturing industry clients are deploying these solutions for their green field as well as brown field plant. We are helping our client connect very old as well as new machines on a single platform, bring visibility and take action in the real time. Some of the key benefit of data and analytics include reduction in machine down time, visibility of machine status across enterprises, rapid communication to affiliates on issues and diagnoses5% improvement on cycle time and increase equipment efficiency by remote monitoring and management,” says Nilesh Auti, VP-Automotive & Discrete Industry Vertical Head, Tech Mahindra.

Upgrade & Refine

Technology changes very fast and the Software Product Life Cycle is reducing day by day. Organizations are highly impacted due to these changes and facing a challenging time to maintain the pace. Before investing in technologies, it is must for any manufacturing organization to ensure that IT strategies aligning with business strategies.  As the market is very dynamic and business strategies are bound to change, IT Strategies should be flexible enough to change as per business needs. “In Cosmo, we prefer to use the products v/s custom developments and we keep exploring the new technologies with start-ups. It helps us to explore more new technologies in less time and investment and security is one of the key criteria for technology selection,” says Kumar. Deciding when the business needs to make an upgrade depends on some signs, one of them is when there is a noticeable disconnect between technology practices at work and in employees’ own personal lives. “Another sign we take is whether IT operations are becoming increasingly inefficient, time consuming and costly. Most processes should be seamless, and when we notice this starting to change that is our biggest indicator for IT upgrade. If the upgrade will mean someone in the business will spend less time doing mundane tasks and more time on important customer-facing activities, then we look at this as a good reason for an upgrade,” avers Samant.

Innovation Matters

Innovation is the key to success for any industry. Traditionally manufacturing industry use to take the maximum advantage out of it, automotive industries use to be ahead of time in this race. Now other industries are in race to make the most of these innovations to be more competitive in market. There are several technology solutions in the market ranging from robotics, automation, IoT, AR-VR, machine learning, advance analytics and many times there is a confusion as to where to start, what technology to deploy and which will give best RoI. “At TechM, we have built an assessment toolkit to find gaps between existing factory landscape and compare with Industry 4.0 architecture. Second step is then we prioritize these gaps and provide solution based on business use cases. The third step is to draw reference architecture which can be used over a period of time to help clients achieve the full picture. We suggest our clients to take agile approach and use case driven approach to deploy the right technology and prioritize,” says Auti. “Cosmo Films has used the technology innovations in the area of Inventory Management with the help of Bar Code & RFID systems. It has helped us in inventory traceability, reduction in container loading time and ensuring no wrong dispatch which later on turns into a quality claims or sales return and increase the logistic cost. Cosmo Films is on the way to implement a fully automated system without manual inputs of the raw material consumption and production booking. We have digitally transformed our sales process successfully because our manufacturing processes are robust and reliable. Cosmo has a vision to become a paperless organization and to contribute towards go-green,” opines Kumar.

In Conclusion

In an industry that automates things, IT helps make the manufacturing process less cumbersome and more automated. It helps drastically in delivering just-in-time insights, swift visibility, and seamless innovation for implementing new age solutions. Intense competition is one of the key points of concern for the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers have to develop and deliver cost-effective decisions, which are sure to stand the test of time. “With IT increasing the flexibility in global operations, the manufacturing industry is ready to simplify and standardise their automation systems and support organisations. The latest trends also indicate various multi-dimensional services spanning IT that aim to transform businesses, change design, and boost value-added services including infrastructure management and the like,” concludes Samant.

This story appeared in the Oct-17 issue of Manufacturing Today here: MT_May 2017_Mfrg IT

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