Industry 4.0- Has the Countdown begun?

Excitement aside- are Indian players embracing something real with Industry 4.0? A hands-on panel gives a quick glimpse

VoicenData Bureau
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Industry . Enablers min

Excitement aside- are Indian players embracing something real with Industry 4.0? A hands-on panel gives a quick glimpse


Internet and technology have pervaded every aspect of our lives – from our time-keepers, our money, our work, our training, our entertainment. The new boss is not the person sitting in a cubicle but your customer.

How much of this is translating into manufacturing? Is it getting smart, automated and intelligent? How much scope for automation, preventive maintenance and digitalization in India can we foresee? What are the concerns and expectations that the industry needs to be cognizant of? A panel at TILF dissected this question with many types of tool-kits. Smart factories, Connected factories, Connected enterprises – all these are emerging in our manufacturing realm. Let’s find out where and why.

Intelligence and Automation- Deep and Wide


Communities and Platforms are stronger than governments, Internet is becoming the biggest marketplace, Gamified training is the order of the day, and the time-keeper is no longer your watch but a fast-changing market. The context for a changing era was set well by the panel Moderator Sukanta Dey, Director, Sdela Consulting who, then, spurred the discussion with a fundamental question –how far is India Inc. from switching on to real AR/VR, intelligent and smart manufacturing and IoT?

So Real IIoT in India – how much and how well? We are already there – from here on, it will get more prevalent in all areas of real-plant operations – like real-time monitoring, early warning systems, remote assistance, intelligent use of data for driving productivity- observed Rajiv Arora, Global Head of IT Global Hub, Siemens. “We can measure real-time temperature, voltage etc. and they can be analysed to create real-time alerts. We are using multiple sensors for critical components – all this helps a lot to have a lead time and empower preventive maintenance. Real-time CCTVs can help to catch incidents and improve safety everywhere. Thanks to the pandemic, digitalisation has been accelerated in our manufacturing footprints.”

Pravir Dahiya, Senior VP, Network Operations, Tata Teleservices Ltd zoomed in here on the aspect of automation. “One of the areas which I would emphasise is that automation and digitalisation have been part of the ICT industry for a long time. Industry 4.0- is a step forward in the area of digital transformation- where IoT is just one piece. Apart from sensors and real-time data processing, overall adoption rates in India are encouraging. The top large enterprises show a healthy 35 per cent of adoption rate in using such applications in some or the other form- even if this is happening at a nascent stage. Industry 4.0 is certainly catching up in the industry.”


How is it all morphing for the Indian Telco space? Deepak Sanghi · Sr Vice President IP & Optical Networks, Airtel answered that with many examples. “It is an evolving journey. Applications like field maintenance, tower maintenance, automated collections – are all areas where we are witnessing new applications. Adding specialised sensors and deploying active low-latency communications are areas that are showing a lot of work. Connectivity across a big premise – like a mining plant or a big configuration in a remote area or a far-flung geography is also driving a new era.”

Arming The Humans – Better, Faster

Arora echoed that and added how IIoT is helping companies in many areas today. “We manufacture transformers in all locations worldwide. When it comes to maintenance, one needs deep-tech experience and it takes its own time. We have initiated a way on guidance with an Android phone-based AR/VR to tell a person how to open a transformer, how to use barcode for fault-spotting and correction, to request tracking and repair. These end-to-end abilities are linked together with IoT. Another example is that of a product that enables ‘safe return to office’. This is done through sensors, data, platforms, CCTV, AI inspection etc. so that intelligence can empower humans. It changes the office from an attendance-based environment to an activity-based environment.”


Dahiya added how optical fibre network can be empowered through intelligence. “There are hundreds and thousands of these cables through various topologies across the country. The maintenance of this footprint is done by trained individuals but when you put in machine-learning and intelligence here – it changes a lot. Whenever a person goes to repair a cable, it is hard for someone seated at the office to monitor this work. So with ML, a picture taken by the mechanic can help with a lot of insights and decisions. A significant degree of productivity went up in this area of fibre maintenance by deploying this application.”

Sanghi averred that such technologies are very powerful. “They do not change just one part of the lifecycle but help across the ecosystem. This is visible in areas like fleet efficiency improvement through location intelligence in excavation work. Or when drones take photographs for efficient installation of towers – taking care of heights, location, angles etc.”

Dey applauded these efforts and the way they show that we are moving in the right direction. But we need to be cognizant of some areas like acceptance of technology, re-training and positive alignment of people. The industry will have to address some bumps on the ground like resistance to change, fear about loss of jobs, grass-root level penetration, improvement of skills and employability of workforce. It all starts with a mind-set transformation. Also it is important to realise that a real-time economy needs real-time action from real-time data – all the time.


“One of the major elements of Industry 4.0 is the Industry itself. One of the biggest challenges is that there would always be resistance to change. This aspect is human in nature. How can we enable the industry to accept this change – is a vital part of this process. We should not push change. We should take buy-in from people. We should take our people along when we go forward with automation. The idea of Industry 4.0 is to complement and to replace humans. “Dahiya weighed in.

Arora seconded that - “We should not create a fear of losing jobs due to this change. In the human workforce side of manufacturing – we are empowering digitally-connected workforce. This is a grass-root level change not a top-down/push-down approach of change. How can we improve the typical day in the life of a blue-collar worker- those are good questions to keep in mind here. We are working in many factories with pilots where blue-collar workers can turn into a digitally-connected workforce that does not fear change but embraces it.” Having a mind-set aligned to change, instead of an aggressive approach, is a good way to go about here, shared Sanghi. “In some automation projects, when we started aligning people, they could feel they are evolving and this realisation helped them to chime in - in a good way. Their employability increases with these skills instead of going down- that’s the awareness and impact we need.”

Retraining people to new technologies and new ways of thinking- is expensive but important for a company- and this can be shared with people. It is a continuous process – Dey added.

It’s a step-by-step process. And getting from 3.0 to 4.0 would be a leap that will take many such small and big steps.

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