Smart manufacturing: Revolutionising the future of production
The smart manufacturing revolution is reshaping industries worldwide, with India emerging as a significant player
In the landscape of modern manufacturing, a revolutionary wave known as “smart manufacturing” is sweeping across various industries, harnessing cutting-edge digital technologies to supercharge efficiency, productivity, and adaptability. This paradigm shift centres around creating interconnected, data-centric, and automated production systems that are redefining the future of several industries.
In India, smart manufacturing is driving the steel industry significantly towards greater efficiency, sustainability, and competitiveness. By optimizing operations, implementing smart sensors, and aligning with environmental goals, the steel industry is witnessing a significant transformation.
Similarly, our automotive manufacturing industry is embracing smart manufacturing, attracting global automakers, and integrating autom]ation and data-driven technologies for increased efficiency and quality.
Supported by initiatives like “Make in India” and certain attractive incentives for electric vehicle manufacturing, the automotive sector is poised for further growth and innovation in the realm of smart manufacturing.
Furthermore, our semiconductor manufacturing industry is also undergoing a transformative phase, with increasing focus on advanced chip fabrication technologies and electronics manufacturing. This development is bolstering India’s position as a key player in the global semiconductor landscape, contributing to the nation’s technological growth and self-sufficiency.
Smart manufacturing empowered by technological convergence
The transformation in smart manufacturing is fuelled by the convergence of cutting-edge technologies, including automation, cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI-ML), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR-VR), cybersecurity and Blockchain technology. Each of these technologies plays a pivotal role in enhancing efficiency, security, scalability, and connectivity in manufacturing operations.
Automation, with its five (International Standard from the International Society of Automation (ISA-95)) industrial automation levels, streamlines production by reducing human involvement and enabling real-time decision-making from the shop floor to the enterprise. Cloud computing offers remote access to data and resources, facilitating real-time monitoring, data analysis, and scalability for agile operations. AI-ML algorithms empower predictive maintenance, quality control, and process optimization, enhancing competitiveness and efficiency. The IIoT connects devices, enables real-time data exchange, and drives smarter and data-driven decisions. AR and VR technologies improve efficiency, training, and collaboration, with AR guiding workers in real-time on the shop floor, and VR creating immersive environments for various purposes.
The constant battle against threats, such as supply chain disruptions, safety risks, reputation damage, and financial losses, underlines the need for robust cybersecurity in manufacturing. Blockchain technology emerges as a transformative solution, enhancing supply chain transparency, quality control, and data security in smart manufacturing, offering the potential to reshape the industry for greater security and efficiency.
Connected manufacturing — the core of the transformation
Smart manufacturing thrives on the concept of connected manufacturing, leveraging cloud computing to provide organizations with comprehensive visibility across their production processes. This approach fosters efficiency, control, and customer satisfaction through real-time data capture and insights.
Key components of a connected manufacturing ecosystem include connected factories, which optimize production through technologies like IIoT and data analytics, and connected workforces, facilitating seamless collaboration among employees (regardless of their location). Wearables, such as smartwatches and AR glasses, enhance communication, efficiency, and safety in modern manufacturing.
Challenges and opportunities in India’s smart manufacturing journey
According to Rockwell Automation’s 8th annual State of Smart Manufacturing report, India stands out globally with a remarkable 57% adoption rate of smart manufacturing, joining the ranks of the United States and China as one of the top three countries leading this transformative journey. However, India does need to address some challenges in its pursuit of smart manufacturing. Besides infrastructure improvements, the nation’s skilled workforce also needs further upskilling and interdisciplinary collaboration to address evolving demands.
Uniting professionals from diverse fields effectively and ensuring seamless collaboration among them is a primary challenge. Integrating specialists in fields ranging from computer engineering to environmental sustainability into a cohesive team can be intricate due to distinct perspectives, terminologies, and priorities. Overcoming these challenges is pivotal to realizing the full potential of smart manufacturing. Initiatives aimed at increasing awareness, addressing interoperability issues, enhancing cybersecurity measures, and streamlining supply chains can empower India to unlock the full potential of smart manufacturing.
How can the workforce and organizations help address key requirements of Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 presents a multifaceted impact on employment. Collaboration between humans and machines, where machines enhance human capabilities, defines this era — fostering more productive and efficient workplaces. While automation, AI, and robotics can indeed displace certain jobs, they often transform the employment landscape (in terms of creation of new jobs or roles) as opposed to eliminating it completely.
Adapting to this transformation demands continuous learning, particularly in interdisciplinary fields like smart manufacturing. Both working professionals and fresh graduates should consider enrolling in specialized postgraduate and certification programmes offered by various educational institutions, which cultivate industry-specific skills (of one’s interest) in the manufacturing sector. Tailored programmes in smart manufacturing, IoT, AI-ML, data science, cloud computing, cybersecurity, automotive engineering, automotive cybersecurity, embedded systems, and full-stack engineering cover specialized topics, such as developing digital twins, AR-VR integration, battery technology, electric propulsion systems, microfabrication, additive manufacturing, human-machine interface, collaborative robots, and Blockchain technology.
As for organizations, collaboration with academia can help them foster innovative solutions to solve complex real-world problems and develop indigenous solutions. Needless to say, embracing these shifts requires not just technical proficiency, but also critical thinking, adaptability, and digital literacy, even at the senior leadership level.
In conclusion, the smart manufacturing revolution is reshaping industries worldwide, with India emerging as a significant player. This transformation, driven by cutting-edge technologies and interdisciplinary collaboration, empowers organizations to enhance efficiency, sustainability, and competitiveness. By embracing the intelligent future of manufacturing, India can certainly forge a path towards further economic prosperity and sustainability — thereby further solidifying its position as a leader in the global manufacturing landscape.