Smart Manufacturing Conclave: An insight into Indian manufacturing sector


As India gears up for Industry 4.0, interaction of humans and machines, humans and humans, machines and machines with variables became possible only because of connectivity across the entire India. The nation has become the hotspot of industrial activities backed by IT support. 

The new industrial revolution provides some of the powerful tools like IoT, AI/ML, Analytics and many other more to transform the way industry works. To know more about how India is adopting digitisation in the manufacturing industry, Express Computer (The Indian Express Group) organised the Smart Manufacturing Conclave, a virtual conference, on December 15, 2021. The one-day conference witnessed participation from industry stalwarts, who shared their views on how India is on the threshold of becoming a leading global manufacturing power.

The conference began with a keynote address by Rajnish Kapur, Chief Operating Officer (Grey), JK Cement Ltd. According to him, “It is estimated that four million manufacturing jobs are expected to be filled by skilled workers by the next decade, out of which two million will remain unfilled due to the skill gap. Smart factories will include a combination of production, information and communication technologies with potential for integration across manufacturing supply chains. IoT and AI will play a key role in predictive maintenance and packaging respectively. Big data will be the fuel for growth in the manufacturing industry and technologies like AR and VR enhance efficiency and provide significant insights with visibility.” 

Following this, Kuldeep Kumar Upadhyay, Director Industry Advisor, Manufacturing, Salesforce India spoke about, ‘Intelligent Customer Centric Supply Chain and Logistics – Ship with CRM’. Kumar stated that in the era of Supply Chain 4.0, buyers, suppliers, transportation and logistics are all connected digitally. 

“Companies will need to ensure that their digital channels are on par with or better than those of their competition in the new environment, as per McKinsey. There is a shift from shipment centric to customer centric. Collaboration backed by analytics, physical flow and IR 4.0 is the need of the hour. The pandemic has brought crucial changes to adopt from traditional to digital channels,” commented Kumar.

Next was the fireside chat with Manish Gaur, Head, IT, Patanjali who spoke on, ‘Building the foundations for digital transformation’ in his session. “Manufacturing industry lacks a connection between plant automation and business automation. Initial phase of IR 4.0 is about connected machines with business units. IoT is a game changer for manufacturing industries. Industry is planning to bring robotics in manufacturing due to Covid-19 pandemic. SaaS and cloud computing are increasing efficiency and effectiveness,” explained Gaur.

The conclave moved ahead with another interesting fireside chat, with Basant Kumar Chaturvedi, Associate Director-IT, South Asia, Middle East, Africa and LATAM, Perfetti Van Melle, titled, ‘Pushing for the next horizon of operational effectiveness’. 

According to Basant, “It is easy to track the scale of production due to the smart factory concept. Industry must prioritise their automation journey as per the customer needs. Technology has helped us to reduce losses and cloud has always been our priority for digitisation. There needs to be continuous efforts for adoption of technology and skill development.”

Following this was a special session by Mohammed Shazin Thottathil, Lead Solution Engineer, Salesforce India, which was titled, ‘Driving customer centricity and predictability through #1 CRM for manufacturing’. He expressed that legacy investments complicate digital engagement and sales input should be captured with account based forecasting.

“Innovation drives business transformation forward. Collaboration with product, operations and sales teams develop more accurate forecasts. Connected products, services and suppliers empower teams to deliver better results,” added Shazin.

Next on the event agenda was a session by Nikhil Shembekar, Head, Digital, Analytics, Supply Chain and Emerging Technologies, SUN Pharma who shared his views on, ‘Baseline infrastructure required for any successful analytics setup’.

“Businesses should consider change management strategies. Data transformation is important for ability scale-up. Descriptive and predictive analytics are the current focus of industry. Cloud computing platforms should be used for bulk data management. And according to Gartner, 60 per cent of companies are using open source even for the mission critical load,” highlighted Shembedkar.

Lined up next was an engaging panel discussion moderated by Rajkumar Ravuri, Director, Industry Strategy, Manufacturing, Salesforce. Panelists included leading industry names like  R N Mohanty, President, Pidilite Industries; Beena Nayar, Head, Information Technology, Forbes Marshall and Vikram Karthick, Head, Digital Transformation, Mahindra Farm Sector, who presented their valuable insights on the topic ‘Digital led transformation of manufacturing delivering greater efficiencies, new operating models, and sustainability focused growth’.

R N Mohanty, President, Pidilite Industries said, “Technologies like IIoT, cloud and edge computing have been an asset for chemical manufacturing. Mass customisation has become a trend to provide unique lot sizes.”

Beena Nayar, Head-Information Technology, Forbes Marshall commented that aligning digital initiatives towards quality and delivery for customers should be the focus of the industry.

Vikram Karthick, Head Digital Transformation, Mahindra Farm Sector mentioned that smart farming is helping farmers to produce a high yield variety of grains.

Rajkumar Ravuri, Director, Industry Strategy, Manufacturing, Salesforce highlighted, “Product centric approach is turning into customer centric approach in new businesses.”

The conference moved ahead with a special address titled, ‘Essential Ingredients of digital transformation in the manufacturing industry’ by Sarajit Jha, Chief – Business Transformation and Digital Solutions, Tata Steel. “Availability of speed into quality is important for asset transformation. Manufacturing industries should work on customer experience and it needs to have a talent supply chain backed by IT. Cloud transformation, data and AI tools combined should be the roadmap of businesses. With the cloud, the network and cybersecurity has made us agile,” mentioned Jha.

Lastly, the virtual event concluded with a fireside chat with Zurvan Marolia, SVP and Head, Manufacturing Council, Godrej and Boyce. He said, “Employees safety, business continuity and business resilience have been our focus after the Covid-19 pandemic. Post Covid scenarios have reset, redefined and re-examined the business opportunities. Digitisation has taken a many year leap forward with contactless working and it will become intelligent leading to safer workplaces. Manual intervention is coming down with up-scalability and reskillablilty of employees.” 


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