Smart Manufacturing in India: An Overview

 In Blog, Indian Market

Industry 4.0 is one of the most talked about words in the manufacturing industry for past few years. Synonymous with the fourth industrial revolution, industry 4.0 is the umbrella term for all the automation of industrial activities on account of machine-to-machine communication as well as internet of things. While all these terms are on the tops of the minds of leaders and managers in the manufacturing sector, yet another term has also become a buzz word – smart manufacturing. Smart manufacturing is a much wider term, which involves a large number of technologies which make manufacturing highly collaborative, automated, capable of changing itself as per the changing real time requirements. From the above definition, it is quite clear that smart manufacturing involves a large number of technologies or solutions, widely known as enablers.

While there are different opinions about what these enablers actually are, we have put together a list of some widely accepted enablers of smart manufacturing:

  1. Big Data Analytics
  2. IoT/IIoT
  3. Cloud Computing
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. Additive Manufacturing
  6. Blockchain in Manufacturing
  7. Robotics
  8. Condition Monitoring

If we analyse the above-mentioned attributes of smart manufacturing, it is quite clear that Internet of Things is one of the prime drivers of smart manufacturing as of now. Along with IoT, condition monitoring, robotics, big data analytics are some other technologies which are already being implemented in the industry. The most famous or infamous case of smart manufacturing in recent times is Tesla’s attempt of completely automating the manufacturing of its Model 3. While automated manufacturing sounds like a fantastic idea, actually deploying it on a product line is a nightmare. As per the news circulating around, Tesla is apparently losing USD 6000-7000 per Model 3 car manufactured. This failure is not all dark; it rather has a silver lining. Once Tesla is through its learning curve, it will be enjoying benefits which no other car manufacturer will have, at least for a year or two!

While a lot has been happening in smart manufacturing globally, India started a little late in this journey. Manufacturing has always been a focus of the government in India. Due to government’s ambitious plan of increasing the share of manufacturing in overall GDP, things moved sooner than expected and India is almost at par with the other countries as far smart manufacturing is concerned. In this article, we will take a bird’s eye view of smart manufacturing in India.

Why is Smart Manufacturing catching up fast in India?

Over last two decades, manufacturing has become a global endeavour and cannot operate in silos. After India opened its market, every manufacturer had to face global competition; let it be a needle manufacturer or an automaker. This globalisation of manufacturing resulted in many radical changes if not one. Global players started setting up their businesses in India and local businesses had to compete with their outputs and efficiencies. Labor laws are evolving fact and compliances are becoming more stringent. Using human labour only when needed is essential for remaining competitive which also pushed for mechanisation of more and more existing processes. Today, a complex product like a car is also becoming customisable and needs flexibility and agility of manufacturing which can be achieved only using automation.

Here are some concrete developments in the field of IoT and smart manufacturing which hint at the fast evolution of this field in India:

Confederation of Indian Industry, an apex body of manufacturing industry in India has prepared a road map for introducing smart manufacturing practices and technologies to the Indian industry. On the macro level, this road map talks about involving 10 government bodies and think tanks and aims for preparing a platform which will facilitate the move towards smart manufacturing for large as well as small and medium enterprises. This plan has also identified 12 enablers which are most relevant in the context of the Indian manufacturing sector.

The “Make in India” initiative is spearheading wider adoption of ‘Industry 4.0’ in the country.

India has strongest information technology skill set in the entire world. This initiative targets at utilising this skill set to expedite the smart manufacturing in India. Under the Government of India’s ‘Smart Cities Mission’, 100 smart cities are planned across India. These smart cities will have readymade Industry 4.0 environment which will be very helpful for small and medium enterprises. Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is building India’s first smart factory in Bengaluru with a seed funding from the Boeing Company.

Apart from the work happening at policy and planning level, many private players have already started building their smart factories in India. Bosch is working on implementing smart manufacturing at its 15 facilities in India. GE has invested USD 200 million in a multi modal factory in India where supply chains and distribution networks are digitally interlinked.

Apart from these two companies, many other companies such as Godrej, Continental AG etc. have already implemented smart manufacturing technologies in their plants in India. In our next article, we will take a closer look at which technologies are already being put to use and which ones are on the radar. We will also take a look at the bottlenecks and what is being done to ease them out.

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