Industry 4.0 - Implementation in the Indian Context

Tejas Jayaraman, Chief Technical Officer, Aditya Auto Products & Engineering (India) Headquartered in Bangalore, Aditya is one of India’s leading supplier of innovative products specializing in design, manufacture and supply of a wide range of products and crucial components for leading automobile brands across a large spectrum of vehicles.

It is the buzzword in the manufacturing industry. Industry 4.0,or‘Digitally Connected Manufacturing’. Originally coined in Germany, it is used by developed nations, as a means to regain competitiveness in manufacturing. In developing nations such as India, it is a tool to leapfrog the value chain in lieu of rising labor costs.

While the need for transformation of Indian Manufacturing is clear, there are certain challenges specific to the Indian context:
• Higher Cost of Capital: Barrier to justify investments.
• Lack of Skilled Manpower: Although India has no shortage of manpower, realizing Industry 4.0 requires hiring and retaining a highly skilled workforce, which is hard to find.
• High Attrition: In the skilled workforce-an offshoot of the supply and demand mismatch.

• Lack of Scale: Investments in Automation and furthermore Industry 4.0 are justified where there are large volumes of production. The Indian Automotive Industry, however is filled with a large number of Car makers and vehicle models, all competing for a relatively small market size. For a Tier-I automotive supplier, the challenge therefore is to develop lines that are flexible to handle large variants without duplicating investments.

Given the above India-specific challenges, it is clear that India would have to find her own path on its journey to becoming a ‘manufacturing giant’ and ultimately into a ‘World Manufacturing Power’. This article describes the journey of an Indian Automotive Tier-I supplier–Aditya Auto Products, and the specific learnings made towards realizing Industry 4.0.

The Vision Document
The starting point for implementation of Industry 4.0 is a Vision Document. This document details out the following:
• Project end objectives.
• Target Products – Due to the lack of scale in the Indian Automotive industry, not every product lends itself to be commercially viable for an Industry 4.0 implementation. It is more economical instead,to target specific products which are common across customers and models to reduce risks.

• Core Competencies of the In-House Team – including a map of their strengths and weaknesses and a strategy to overcome weaknesses.

• Legacy Lines– While greenfield lines can be designed ground up to support Industry4.0, the risk of an independent and separate management of legacy lines results in duplication of managerial efforts and ultimately into higher overhead costs. A strategy for ensuring the compatibility of legacy lines with new lines needs to be evolved. For example: End-of-line(EOL)testers in legacy lines typically give out rich quality and production relevant data. These can be tapped into and handled in a way that is compatible with newer lines.

• Data Storage – Estimation of data storage requirements, IT hardware required to handle, store and retrieve this data, and others.

• Factory Design Points – Over and above traditional factory layouts, an Industry 4.0 plant generates large volumes of data at various stages. The factory infrastructure needs to allow smooth transfer of data to and from centralized servers as well as within the machines themselves.

The Strategic Supplier Network
After creating the vision document, it becomes apparent that Industry 4.0 is broad in scope with a large number of interrelated core competencies. No single supplier can provide the best of all offerings. It is necessary therefore to develop a Network of Highly Specialized Suppliers. Every supplier should be oriented towards the broader project objectives of the organization and sensitized to the need for compatibility.

Fortunately, most well-known suppliers, being cognizant of this challenge, have upgraded their product portfolios to specifically address this need of the industry.

The In-House Team
Managing a Supplier Network with so many competencies, requires a strong in-house team. The in-house team should have at least a basic knowledge of all identified competencies in order to manage projects. This team is also crucial to preventing over reliance on suppliers for small maintenance issues that result in costly down times.

The Pilot Phase
Pilot projects are low-risk, low investment projects that help an organization to get a feel for the challenges faced in building Industry 4.0 capable lines. They help identify the strengths and weaknesses of the in-house team and thereby the training or hiring requirements. They also provide practical experience working with suppliers, assessing their response times and support when things go wrong. A good strategy would be to run multiple pilot projects simultaneously with different identified suppliers to assess suppliers for these points.

Every implementation, however successful highlight challenges. Treating supplier projects as Black Boxes instead of co-developments is the biggest of them. Contingency plans like manual lines to run production during down times can result instead as comfortable fallback options. A systematic strategy to capture lessons learned within the organization as well as a strategy to train, retain and manage the high attrition in the skilled workforce still needs to be addressed.