by Soumik Ghosh

2016’s Key Manufacturing Sectors and How Tech Helps

Jan 27, 2016

With 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) allowed through the automatic route, and initiatives like ‘Make in India’, major international players have entered the Indian engineering sector due to significant growth opportunities available. 

2016 has been touted to be a tipping point for manufacturing technology – A watershed year. At the forefront of this pivotal phase, are automation and 3D printing.

General-purpose robotics is becoming increasingly affordable, and this has significantly influenced the reinvention in the industry. Increasing affordability means smaller companies are now able to adopt automation.

It’s been proven that in today’s scenario, manufacturers can generate revenue growth by taking one or more routes:

Adopting more flexible production lines, robotics, and 3-D printing to offer products with higher levels of customization.Implementing innovative business models, such as machines as a service, to tap into new marketsDeploying augmented reality in the field to expand after-sales service and to develop new servicesExpanding their efforts to meet increased demand for Industry 4.0 technologies, such as autonomous robots

In all of the scenarios, the adoption rate of technological advancements will lead to significant productivity gains, thereby reducing the number of employees required to achieve a given level of output. Although some jobs will be lost, the level of cooperation between humans and machines will increase significantly.

IT advancements = More Horsepower

Innovation and advanced technologies are critical to company-level competitiveness. They differentiate businesses and help them thrive amid global competition by creating premium products, processes, and services that capture higher margins.

Without differentiation through technology or innovation, companies are more likely to become cost-driven commodity businesses, making it difficult for them to succeed in the long run. The future growth potential of advanced technologies and the products and services they enable is sizable; this growth potential is a core component of many companies’ overall future growth strategy.

But, has the sector done enough?

“I see the manufacturing sector still lagging behind on technology adoption,” believes Rahul Kumar, Head – IT Services, Essar Steel India. “New trends like mobility and analytics will play a key role and companies will leverage this to gain an edge,” added Kumar.

Let’s glance at the aviation sector. “The IT infrastructure is in a support sense, ultimately the MRP system,” explained Dr. Karthik Krishnamurthy – CTO, Mahindra Aerospace.

“As you move up the value chain, the problem becomes that of reverse engineering the data, because in the aircraft industry, production lines tend to stay for 20-30 years, sometimes longer,” he added.

The company uses SAP, and is developing two or three additional modules as it ramps up operations. It has a production engineering team, because in the business of what we call build-to-print, the customer gives the drawings, and manufacturers have no right to change anything. So, converting all that data from the drawings to production readiness is the engineering team’s job.

“As you move up the value chain, the problem becomes that of reverse engineering the data, because in the aircraft industry, production lines tend to stay for 20-30 years, sometimes longer,” added Dr. Krishnamurthy.

Realizing this indirect, yet powerful link between economic prosperity and R&D investment, advanced economies – such as the United States, Japan, Germany, Korea, and Singapore – that have invested heavily in R&D and research talent, and have reaped in the harvest. These economies have also benefited from increased high-tech exports and higher productivity.

The road ahead is clear, and the target – Well defined. Now’s when India needs to strap up and fire all cylinders. Here’s our chance.