The convergence of OT and IT in the Manufacturing industry
Innovation should occur keeping in mind the customer requirements of tomorrow and the ecosystem that will enable the innovation

Amidst the challenges faced today in the manufacturing industry, there lie many opportunities led by technological advancements. What is your take on this?

Newer technologies like IoT (Internet of Things), Cloud, Analysis, Mobility and Social (iCAMS) allows manufacturing companies to better connect with their customers, suppliers and employees. Not only are these technologies becoming pervasive, but are also more economical than the ones available in the past. Embedded sensors can monitor every asset of an organisation - be it a machine on the shop floor, goods in transit or an asset that's leased to the customers. The usage is monitored remotely on a real-time basis and the analysis of the data resulting from it help organisations take proactive measures like preventive maintenance, track usage of the consumables, align the workforce to maintain the asset, etc. Customer experience can be bettered if one knows the customer usage pattern of the asset. The key is to help give the choice to the customer. For example, to buy a car, one should have the choice of ordering the colour of the seats, and width of the tyre.

If manufacturers can give the customers a real-time view of where their car is in the process of manufacturing, it will enhance the customer experience. Product Life Cycle Management and Manufacturing Execution Systems today are integrated to enhance the quality of the product, and detect within minutes any manufacturing defects. Such new technology platforms can go a long way to help manufacturers offer a better value to the customers.

With massive business spread, it is imperious for customers to have an efficient mechanism to adapt to the challenges arising from IT technology transitions. How does Birlasoft cater to such a demand consequence?

The key to any business is to ensure that the processes are interconnected seamlessly with information flowing across the system so that the right decision can be made. Birlasoft brings to the table its expertise in the art and science of convergence - converging Engineering, Operations and Information Technology - which can help organisations leverage the flow of information better.

Today, we are helping customers to remotely monitor the operations of their assets. Our diagnostics tools help customers diagnose faults and failures. This is done by picking up information on a real-time basis from the sensors installed. We are helping buyers decide what they need in cars, or help them design their bikes and price it automatically - all from their smart device like a mobile, tablet, laptop, etc. We are using smart devices like smart pads, smart glasses to help technicians repair the engines in remote areas but being connected and guided by the central teams. We are also helping our customers use our IP that improve their supply chain optimisation.

In order to meet the above requirements of the customers, Birlasoft has built a team of industry experts who bring in the relevant domain knowledge of the use of new and old technology. We are working with our customers in building Joint Center of Excellence (COE), where we do proof of concepts and pilots that help set the key performance indicators and industrialise the usage of new technology and refined processes. We are hiring experts from the industries (non-IT firms) and young talent from across the globe. We have partnered with renowned universities in India, Europe and USA from where we hire fresh talent.

To what extent do you think are Indian companies able to scale up for large deals, especially manufacturing SMEs? What are your recommendations for them?

Customers, these days, are focusing on products that are innovative and those that help them create a differentiator. The SMEs need to co-innovate with their customers to create new products and services. They also need to - their product, which means enabling the services around their products where ever possible. Business models are changing where more and more products are being leased (not sold) and SMEs can jump on this curve faster and easier than the larger organisations. However, the SMEs must unlearn the existing and old ways of doing business and adopt new technologies. Focusing on capturing and analysing information can help them to build better, safer, and ecofriendly products.

With constant pervasive changes in technology & market requirements in the current uncertain economic conditions, how can organisations design/plan the change management process and product development strategies?

Innovation should occur keeping in mind the customer requirements of tomorrow and the ecosystem that will enable the innovation. Availability of technology today helps in electronically designing and simulating the performance of these products and they are more economical than before. Companies need to ensure that their employees are aware of these technologies and trained on using the same internally or along with a partner. Likewise, new products also bring about a change in the way the customers use them. There will be some unlearning and learning that needs to happen. It's important that companies train their employees and customers in the usage of the new products and technologies, so that the product management, project management and change management go hand-in-hand.

What are some of the immediate steps the government needs to take to boost the 'Make in India' initiative?

Creating IP in India will be key to the success of the 'Make in India' initiative. In order to achieve this goal, it is imperative that we change the way we think today. We need to innovate, generate new ideas on products and services, new business models, and new ways of creating resources. The culture of start-ups has to be promoted, both by the government and the industries. Government should ease the process of registration, disbursement of loans and funds, ease taxes, and offer other facilities to these startups. Industries should recognise the talent and innovation and give an opportunity to these start-ups by using their products. Government, industries, and academia have to join forces to build the scale of talent that will be required in these start-ups along with a focus on research. To make this initiative a norm, it is pertinent that we build world-class facilities that deliver products and services with the highest levels of quality and comply to global standards.

Let's Connect