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Changing Perception: Manufacturers revisit their IT strategy

December 27, 2016

Changing Perception: Manufacturers revis...

For smooth integration of the various stages of the production value chain, manufacturing enterprises are adopting new IT solutions like industrial internet of things (IIoT) to extract information from the plant floor and along the supply chain, and turn it into actionable insights. Meanwhile, social media, mobile, cloud and analytics (SMAC) technologies are helping industries gain real-time insight into market trends and customer preferences. Going forward, the role of robotics, 3D printing and augmented reality in manufacturing operations is expected to increase significantly. Leading enterprises talk about the key IT trends in manufacturing and their own IT initiatives...

How have IT solutions helped manufacturing enterprises enhance business operations?

Milind Korgaonkar

There has been a significant shift in how manufacturing enterprises view telecom and IT, from a back-office role to more of a business partner. This has happenned largely due to the advent of “digital” and “mobility” technologies, which has changed the way consumers perceive a product or services associated with it.

Dr Vishad Rahangdale

In India, as far as the adoption of IT and telecom is concerned, the core manufacturing sector is perceived to be lagging. In general, these organisations are inclined towards time-tested practices. However, since the first decade of the 21st century, there has been a huge shift in the manufacturing business from traditional to contemporary IT solutions. The reason for adopting IT or telecom are different for every manufacturing organisation. In the case of Electrotherm, the need to ease the in-built rigidity led to the transformation. We are a multi-location and multi-product conglomerate. As the company expanded horizontally and vertically, new challenges like management and control started surfacing. The situation prompted us to re-visit our IT infrastructure strategy, and invest in building IT infrastructure across the group. Our telecom partners also played a pivotal role in this endeavour. Today, Electrotherm is a highly networked company, benefiting from its investments in IT infrastructure.

Yashpal Soni

In the present competitive environment, processed data is the key to success as it helps stay ahead of the competition. While customer 1.0 demanded analytics on laptop and desktops, customer 2.0 is demanding the same on mobile devices or smartphones. This trend has definitely increased the competency and productivity of the workforce across all sections of manufacturing operations.

Spokesperson, Electrical Equipment Manufacturer

The telecom and IT industries have significantly helped Indian manufacturing enterprises in expanding their business. These companies are now aligning their initiatives with the government’s Make in India campaign, which has boosted the manufacturing business in the country.

What are the technology trends in the manufacturing space? How has been the adoption of new technologies like IoT, M2M and the cloud?

Milind Korgaonkar

Cloud, digital business, mobility and internet of things (IoT) are the key technology trends being witnessed by the manufacturing industry. Most companies had initially adopted the cloud for email services as well as their web portal but are now slowly moving their core IT infrastructure also onto the cloud. Typically, the non-production set-up is first moved to the cloud before moving critical production-related IT systems in order to minimise the impact. Meanwhile, the digital business trend has strongly influenced the areas of sales and marketing. Small steps are being taken on the IoT front as well but the technology and its ecosystem are still evolving.

Dr Vishad Rahangdale

IT has become like adrenaline in the manufacturing sector. Its initial adoption has induced more flexibility and agility in manufacturing businesses. Moreover, consumerisation of IT has pushed organisations towards decentralisation in many ways. To retain their competitive position, organisations are also aggressively adopting new disruptive technologies such as IoT, machine-to-machine (M2M) and cloud. Meanwhile, the penetration of SMAC in the manufacturing sector is quite significant.

Yashpal Soni

Manufacturing organisations today are collaborating and talking more about integrated business planning. With the adoption of IoT, they have started acknowledging the challenges that value-added service providers face in terms of data storage.

Spokesperson, Electrical Equipment Manufacturer

The adoption of robots is the ideal technology trend that may spur manufacturing in the coming years.

What are some of the IT initiatives taken by your organisation in the past few years? What are the company’s plans going forward?

Milind Korgaonkar

We have taken some innovative IT initiatives in analytics, IoT and mobility. We plan to increase our focus on these to gain business advantage moving forward.

Dr Vishad Rahangdale

During the past couple of years, our focus has been on digitisation and the adoption of innovative SMAC technologies. Even though SMAC technologies are largely in place, digitisation is still an ongoing process in the company. The key IT initiatives taken by the company pertain to analytics, customer relationship management, consolidation, mobility and cloud computing. Going forward, our emphasis will be on moving from the capex model to the opex model. Moving on to the cloud platform is also on the agenda and we gradually plan to explore IoT and M2M technologies.

Yashpal Soni

Intex has witnessed inorganic growth over the past few years. To sustain this and take the organisation to the next level, a robust information management system is required. Integrated business planning supported by demand planning and supply chain management is the key to success and Intex is not an exception to this. We are currently working to achieve this, which will surely help us better connect with our customers.

What are the key challenges in the deployment of IT and telecom solutions?

Milind Korgaonkar

Telecom connectivity has changed drastically over the past few years but there are still gaps, which lead to poor connectivity. Hence, even today, the deployment of a centralised IT system that maintains consistent quality is a challenge. But, I expect this will change in the near future.

Dr Vishad Rahangdale

As far as the challenges are concerned, data security threats are a major cause of concern for manufacturing organisations. Augmenting the IT infrastructure to make it less vulnerable is also a big challenge. Therefore, it is essential that IT and telecom solution providers make their solutions highly secure. In today’s highly interdependent and complex networked world, it is not sufficient to have a secure immediate solution partner. In fact, the entire ecosystem has to be secure. Further, the solutions have to be dynamically adaptive. In addition, there should be redundancy within the solution. This is very crucial for continuous manufacturing operations. Lastly, the seamless integration of high speed machines within manufacturing operations and data exchange between them are other challenges.

Yashpal Soni

The key challenge is to keep pace with the changing technology trends. Companies that can adapt quickly to new technologies will survive in the race while the others will be left behind or taken over by others.

Spokesperson, Electrical Equipment Manufacturer

The IT and telecom sector has been in a lot of debt for a while now. To overcome this, we need more policy initiatives from the government.


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