Zurvan Marolia, senior vice-president, Godrej & Boyce

The manufacturing sector has witnessed the increased adoption of new-age digital solutions in the wake of Covid-19, as it is making a leap from traditional automation to smart factories. With the use of disruptive technologies such as data and analytics, industrial internet of things (IIoT), cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), manufacturers are enhancing their business performance and efficiency, reducing manufacturing costs, and improving the production and quality of goods. They are also adopting IIoT for predictive and proactive maintenance, real-time monitoring of operations, resource optimisation and remote diagnosis. Apart from improving the core productivity function of firms, these technologies are enhancing their customer service relationship and financial performance. However, skill deficiency in terms of technology, deployment and integration of digital platforms, and cybersecurity remain the key hurdles in technology adoption, which must be addressed to facilitate the transition to connected factories. Zurvan Marolia, senior vice-president, Godrej & Boyce, talks about the key digital trends, emerging use cases of new-age technologies, impact of Covid-19 on technology adoption in the sector, and the way forward…

What are the use cases of technologies such as cloud, big data, AI and IoT in the manufacturing sector?

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital adoption across different sectors. Businesses that have been able to think digital-first are relevant, growing and scaling up their operations. They are solving complex problems in real time, have greater insights and accessibility, and are becoming agile enterprises by using AI, ML, cloud and other intelligent technologies optimally. Advances in technology are al­ready helping make supply chains more transparent. Internet of things (IoT) has en­­­abled businesses to strengthen their planning and inventory management systems with real-time information on product location. They also get to know more about customer behaviour. These advances have already brought in a host of benefits. In addition, as supply chains go digital, we are generating large amounts of data that can be used to identify hidden opportunities. 5G technology is also playing a major role in making IoT solutions work. By connecting data from suppliers, warehouses, production facilities and distributors, businesses can devise an integrated approach to managing their supply chains.

What are the key technology solutions dep­loyed by your company? How have they help­ed improve the business and operations?

At Godrej Interio, a business of Godrej & Boyce, the deployment of IoT and manufacturing execution systems enables tools and systems across factories to enhance the speed and accuracy of manufacturing, eliminate delays, interruptions and errors, and impart clarity on timelines. These systems assist in project-wise material planning, production planning, tracking factory capacities and job loads, production reporting and asset-level planning to augment production and operational efficiencies. This directly ensures that customers receive a superior quality product for the most optimum price, in the least possible time, and with visibility on the status of the order throughout.

What are the key challenges faced while deploying new-age technologies?

In the manufacturing sector, micro, small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the manufacturing industry. By developing them, overall manufacturing capabilities will improve and the share of manufacturing gross domestic product (GDP) in the national GDP will increase.

Through an initiative called “Beyond Sourcing”, Godrej & Boyce began a journey over a decade ago to work with a limited number of suppliers and establish a partnership with them, helping them develop beyond the transaction. Under this initiative, suppliers have been taken through the basic development of mana­ge­­ment, to initiatives of building robust productivity and quality systems, then further to sustainability in terms of lean and green management and finally to ZED (zero effect zero defect).

Over a period, the company has set up an internal rating system, wherein each supplier receives a periodic report of its performance along with points for impro­vement. This can help improve their performance a notch. The inputs from this system assist in supplier maturity assessment, which indicates their readiness to become a substitute for a global source.