View from India: Gearing up for industry 4.0

India is in a unique position as far as industry 4.0 is concerned. The country has a great mix of hardcore engineering, electronic engineering and a strong backbone in IT.

Described as the ‘4th Industrial Revolution’, industry 4.0 is expected to revolutionise manufacturing processes. Industry 4.0 brings together cyber-physical systems; the Internet of Things (IoT); cloud computing and cognitive computing, along with advanced automation and robotics. This unique combination, backed by data explosion, alters the machine-human equation in the manufacturing processes.

“Operational excellence is among the value adds that industry 4.0 offers to the manufacturing industry. This in turn, helps lower costs. About 65 per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) comes from the service industry. Hence, it’s necessary to scale-up manufacturing processes,” said Dr N Ramesh, co-convenor, CII Karnataka Manufacturing & Operational Excellence Panel.

Industry 4.0 brings automation and algorithms which help improve productivity. There are other highlights as well.  

“The world of manufacturing is being disrupted. The shop floor and top floor is beginning to converge. This convergence is between people and various disruptive manufacturing processes, including robots and chatbots. Both are becoming part of the manufacturing scenario,” said James Thomas, country manager, Kronos Incorporated.  

The strategising, planning and executing skills of people converge with cyber-physical systems, automation and the Internet of Things (IoT). Convergence happens through digitisation. Humans score for their exemplary learning and innovation. Finance processes and people are essential for the company. The data and analytics emerging from the convergence leads to actionable decisions that help improve the supply chain. The convergence opens up opportunities for machines to perform as a service. As a result, consumers have products with an extended shelf life. 

Industry 4.0 is a radical shift in the manufacturing industry. Academia needs to keep pace with the changing dynamics. “With the dimensions in manufacturing undergoing continuous change, graduates are not employable. Manufacturers are challenged to re-skill and train their work force. With the rapid flow of information, product differentiation is no longer a defining factor,” felt Thomas.

However, the biggest differentiating factor today is agility and adaptability. There is a great need for industry and academia to collaborate to build the workforce of the future. The challenge lies in making students industry ready. It’s important to harness youth power through education and infrastructure.

The textile-apparel world is beginning to adopt industry 4.0. A case in point is the Aquarelle Group, which is into garment manufacturing and woven fabrics. As Ashok Kumar, global head - industrial engineering, Aquarelle Group, puts it, “Our global manufacturing began in 2012. Our focus is on lean practices and global standardisation practices (GSP). As per GSP, we plan to introduce robots in our factories in 2019. The thrust has been on lean practices because it offers flexibility.”

Hence, 90 per cent of the style requires zero time change-overs. A futuristic perspective points to the fact that individuals will take their measurements, pass these details on to the garment company, which will tailor the item accordingly. A video analysis system coupled with a digital database will aid the process.


The auto industry is all set to usher in e-mobility. While it is a game changer, industry 4.0 is facilitating the transformation. “E-mobility is an industrial disruption. The country will produce at least 30 per cent of electric cars by 2030. This will include battery vehicles, plug-ins and hybrids. The focus should be on achieving a zero defect level in the assembly and manufacturing process,” highlighted Sadashiva Baligar, VP - manufacturing, Toyota Kirloskar Auto Parts Pvt Ltd.  

The size of the auto industry in India is $70,000 million. India has a capacity to manufacture 4.2 million cars annually. The country comes fourth globally in terms of volume production.

Industry 4.0 is the fourth Industrial Revolution. Prior to this, we’ve seen disruptions and growth coming from industry 3.0, represented by computers and the internet; industry 2.0, understood as mass production and electricity, and industry 1.0, seen as mechanisation and water/steam power.

In a nutshell, the world of manufacturing is experiencing a paradigm shift as industry 4.0’s digital technologies are re-shaping what is possible. It spans from achieving new levels of operational efficiency to unlocking new innovative business models.

“The modern factory, which is the future of factory, has become a reality as IoT-based sensing, cloud-based computing technology, artificial intelligence and cognitive services continue to improve the speed and quality of operations,” summed up Aman Choudhari, Vice Chairman, CII Karnataka.

These discussions were part of the Manufacturing & Operational Excellence Conference 2018, organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

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