Kishore Jayaraman

Kishore Jayaraman is President at Rolls-Royce, India & South Asia.

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Engineering a Digital Future

With a growing manufacturing sector and a robust technology hub, India is emerging as a key destination for digital and analytical solutions.

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Digital is not just a buzzword in industry circles anymore. It is an eventuality that is becoming a reality with each passing day. The technology that supports digitalisation has evolved at lightning speed, touching our everyday lives in ways that we once thought was possible only in the movies. Today, digital has made us more efficient and more dynamic and our digital ambitions are only limited by connectivity and computational speeds.

Although the entertainment, financial services and consumer companies were early adopters, the digital revolution is opening up possibilities and transforming the industrial sectors too. More and more companies are evaluating how technology impacts the relationship with consumers, and then developing the required capabilities to respond to those opportunities. All this is being made possible by access to much bigger datasets and cheaper computing power, allowing companies to actually do things efficiently at scale.

New possibilities

The terabytes of data collected each day and the increased speed and power of computers, cloud computing capabilities, human-machine interfaces and advanced robotics is enabling organisations to look at things differently. Digitally connected industrial ecosystems are helping save time, increase productivity in manufacturing, making industrial efforts more efficient and predictable. For example, digitally driven automation has the potential to remove processing errors and vulnerabilities when it comes to performing complex tasks – such as piloting a ship or manufacturing precision components. This can improve quality, reduce lead time and also improve predictability of delivery – all at a more efficient operational cost.

For complex industrial companies such as Rolls-Royce, building digital capabilities will provide an end-to-end view of complex products through an entire lifecycle: from research and design, to supply chain and manufacturing leading ultimately to helping our customers maximise the benefits of their assets and optimise their operations. The data and analytics from a lifecycle of products could then feed into improvements in designs and products ultimately uplifting the benefits to the end customer experience. Data from end customer experiences and operations will then feed back into the design stage; and so the cycle goes on.

However, the induction of automation and digitisation on such a large scale is quite an undertaking. A key consideration for unlocking this is to rethink the role of IT. Historically, assembly plants and industries have been driven by the shop floor with IT primarily being a support function. However, with increased automation, IT will need to work symbiotically with multiple departments.  This not only helps in keeping synergy between multiple automated assets but also enables operators and manufacturers to draw meaningful inferences from insightful data.

How is India placed?

With a growing manufacturing sector and a robust technology hub, India is emerging as a key destination for digital and analytical solutions. The country’s matured technology ecosystem and evolving capabilities of start-ups in digital space positions the country to emerge as a key global hub for the development of smart manufacturing technologies. Many global players who have their technology centres in India are leveraging the country’s capabilities to develop advanced digital solutions for their global operations. The country’s automotive sector has already shown the maturity in adopting global best practices and will be the early adopters of smart manufacturing technologies going forward, however, for aerospace & defence and other capital goods sector the change will be slow but will evolve gradually.

So, it is evident that the manufacturing sector is beginning to transition to a digital oriented ecosystem, it needs to create a fertile field for the revolution to germinate. India already has a few key variables working in its favour for this transition. The government has already taken several steps to transform India into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy and is also soon planning a new manufacturing policy with an objective to align the initiatives with new smart technologies such as Industry 4.0. It is now time for all stakeholders to be prepared to harness these opportunities and work towards comprehensive digitisation of the nation.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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