Digitalization Is Rocket Fuel for Modernization in Manufacturing Sector
- CIOs in manufacturing verticals are evaluating different approaches to move the digital assets onto the cloud in a phased manner and are looking for the right hyperscale partner.
- CIOs in manufacturing prefer sustainable solutions that align with business outcomes and operational technology. In order, to completely migrate onto Cloud, their critical concerns are - migration timelines, security and downtime.
Manufacturing organisations have predominantly been slow adopters of new and emerging technologies . Mainly due to the nature of their business and the process continuity aspect.
At the recent edition of “Digital Leaders Club”, curated by CORE Media and powered by Google Cloud India, CIOs from manufacturing organisations and Google India executives, exchanged success stories, challenges and potential trends.
Anoop Mathur, Founder & President, CORE Media, moderated the session and opened the discussion by stating “Whether it is to achieve resiliency or to propel in the digital economy, organisations need to have the right technology set and the right infrastructure. Manufacturing companies are characterised by a whole gamut of processes and with the distributed workforce, global supply chains and scalability demands, these processes need to be enabled with digital engines and automation. While there is a top-line and bottom-line focus, it is important to understand how enterprises can leverage the cloud for growth and improve customer experience”
This opened the platform for discussion on the pace of adoption, bottom-line impacts, challenges and the future trends and plans.
Vishwanath Chandru, Head - Conglomerates Vertical India and SAARC, Google Cloud started with an opening remark, “We are taking a very industry vertical led approach and working very closely with manufacturing and industrial organisation where we can provide not only the technology, but majorly the solutions to achieve business outcomes. The onus on technology leaders is to see how they can expand the scope of digital initiatives to drive IT, OT, supply chain, manufacturing and procurement. We are working with some of the largest conglomerates in India and innovating in this space.”
Phase-gates of Digital Transformation
An industry that was on the back foot of digitalization is now talking about infrastructure modernization, remote monitoring, IoT on factory floors and smart supply chains. Although there are numerous factors that have led to the shift, the primary catalysts are meeting the exceeding customer expectations while maintaining operational and cost efficiency. The technology shift is systematically planned with phase-wise deployment that aligns with building capabilities and culture.
Stressing on the importance of how phasing is conducive, the CIO of a well-known textile manufacturing company said, “We began thinking of adopting the new technologies in the last 2-3 years and our journey is going in phases. We have to ensure that the basic infrastructure is in place so the applications can be accessed anytime, from anywhere. Having done that, we are now looking at API integrations across our applications.”
Tangible benefits with incremental improvement
The technology benefits and advancements are translated into growth and bottom-line impacts. The core tech and infrastructure side being gradually taken onto Cloud, the next step for manufacturers is looking at specific areas of automation.
IT Head of a leading pumps and valves manufacturing company shared, “We were on a cloud roadmap pre-covid times. Now we have accelerated our migration to fully leverage the scalability that Cloud offers. We will be pushing non-critical applications on Cloud. We have initiated automation on process improvement and quality. We have reaped numerous benefits and the results meet our expectations. We are exploring tech initiatives on the OT side as well.”
CIO of a multinational engineering procurement and construction company cited some very important points. He added, “We have ensured that dependency on the On-prem systems is reduced. But we have to trade-off in certain places and in a phase-wise manner. 100% adoption does not seem possible because there are some critical practical challenges that include network connectivity at remote locations, higher cost of replacement etc.”
The General Manager – IT of a leading electronic appliances manufacturer cited critical concerns on security and possibilities of data leak.
Speaking on the various solutions that Google offers for automation in OT, Rajesh Shewani, Head of Customer Engineering, Enterprise - Google Cloud India at Google said, “The older OT systems need refurbishment and some systems still work on older applications. We are working with manufacturing companies to identify capabilities that can optimize the OT environment for older plants and new applications. Google offers a plant specific application that is Anthos that allows you to run cloud-native applications at Plant level, in a connected or disconnected mode. Essentially, the central applications run on a Public Cloud, plant specific applications run on Anthos and periodically they sync to Public Cloud as and when required. There is also a digital twin capability to move to the cloud by creating multiple simulation patterns without worrying about computing power. Coupled with this are the enhanced security layers that strengthen the application security.”
Achieving Sustainability in Manufacturing
Digital transformation enforces sustainability commitments for manufacturing organisations by enabling fuel efficiency, optimizing cost and resources, efficient waste management etc. Automating the processes helps to make informed and faster decisions based on real-time statistics and analytics. It is anticipated that going forward sustainability will become an integral parameter of finance and compliance for manufacturing companies.
Speaking on the success of their digital journey, the CIO of a global pulp and fibre business mentioned, “For the last 4 years we have accepted Cloud First policy and 90% of our workloads are on cloud including SAP and data warehouses. Data analytics- based solution for quality improvement is another focus. This helps achieve faster improvement and the IT costs are taken care of. We are looking at an AI and video analytics-based solution for one of our processes that is currently monitored manually. Sustainability is an integral parameter of our vision now and we aim to leverage technology to enable our sustainability commitments.”
Speaking on how Google is enabling organisations to become more sustainable, Vishwanath Chandru, Google Cloud elaborated, “Sustainability is a massive agenda for us. Google Cloud offers a strong value proposition for manufacturers that are governed by sustainability practices and energy efficiency standards. Running on Google Cloud obviates the need for any other incremental IT-related sustainability commitments. We are working with ISVs on a sustainable supply chain which helps manufacturers meet GRI, Net Zero commitments etc.”
The CIOs mutually made a point that siloed processes and data pose a challenge and by adopting the right digital tools, such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and others, they can benefit from better forecasting, real-time insights and allowing seamless flow of data. They seek the right partners to facilitate this growth.