Confederation of Indian Industry's (CII) Smart Manufacturing Summit in Delhi on Friday saw some excepted observations. The fact that "every single product will get connected, will become intelligent, will communicate with other systems" and that manufacturing is transitioning from 'automated' towards 'autonomous systems'.
There was also a fair bit of discussion about the technologies that would drive Industry 4.0 - sensors, Internet of Things, connected robots, Cloud, and digital twins among others.
There were some interesting insights as well. Here are a few of them.
1. Dr Norbert Gaus, Executive VP and Head of R&D in Digitalisation and Automation at Siemens AG changed the paradigm of conversation from the industry to customers. Industry 4.0, he said, is driven by customers and their needs - speed, flexibility, quality, efficiency, security. A newer trend is building mass customisation and this can only be achieved through Industry 4.0.
2. Small and medium businesses could be laggards in adopting newer technologies and therefore require handholding. Many Indian SMEs have thus far practiced low-cost automation. Soon, they would need to adopt digital technologies at scale to remain competitive both in India and in the exports markets. The government will have a role to play in education and designing programmes to handhold smaller firms in their period of adjustment.
3. The nature of jobs is changing. The skill sets of a maintenance worker in an automated factory, for instance, are quite different from the skills of a maintenance guy in a traditional plant. More inter-disciplinary skills will be required. Indian manufacturers say that labour unions appear pretty educated on what's going on. They are willing to be part of the change.
4. CII is looking to develop an Industry 4.0 India platform to bring in skills and knowledge, eco system training among others onto the platform. The industry body is looking for ideas around developing an enabling ecosystem for adoption. The body is monitoring two early adopters of automation in India - the automotive and engineering industries. Automotive companies in India have started investing to make their supply-chain smart as well.
5. Hero MotoCorp made an interesting presentation on its Industry 4.0 journey. The firm has invested in highly automated warehousing, remote monitoring of factory temperature, humidity, lighting etc. It has also created a digital twin of one of its factories. The company, in the past, had experimented with 3D printing - for an expo, it printed out the prototype of a whole motorcycle - diagnostics of equipment through technologies such as virtual reality could be next in line.