The Era Of Smart Manufacturing
Commercial Vehicle|March 2021
The effect of Covid-19 has further accelerated the shift to smarter manufacturing techniques.
Bhushan Mhapralkar

Not only have the CV manufacturers in India had to go back to the drawing board to redraw the best and the seemingly fool-proof strategies to conduct their business, they have had to further accelerate the shift to smart techniques. They have had to, in the process, embrace new technological developments in the area of Artifical Intelligence (AI), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), automation, big data, 5G, etc. While companies like Lincode, a leading AI-powered visual inspection company with multiple patent-pending defect detection capabilities, have announced collaboration with Switzerland-based Global Automotive Alliance, which has an in-depth domain knowlegde of the automotive and manufacturing segment on a global level, the accelerating shift to smarter manufacturing techniques in the Indian auto industry at various levels is opening the doors to the next level of efficiency, expertise and productivity enhancements. Expressed Vinay Raghunath, Partner & Leader, Automotive Sector, EY India, that automotive shopfloors are evolving and adopting digital technologies as challenges like slowdown in demand, non-availability of labour, concerns on health and safety management on the shop floor assume importance. An early adopter of digital manufacturing techniques, the Indian auto industry, he added, has not been able to keep pace with the developments in view of the uncertainty relating to ROI and other factors.

With techniques like AI playing a key role in the automotive value chain encompassing regions not just on the shopfloor but also design, pre- (supply chain and materials) and postproduction (dealer network and aftermarket value-added services like predictive maintenance, spares, insurance, etc.), the shift to smarter manufacturing techniques has further accelerated in the post Covid-19 environment. Mentioned a source close to Ashok Leyland that the CV major took to smart manufacturing initiatives some years back. The planning of the application technique, he added, started even before and primarily for three reasons – to improve productivity through modernisation and digitisation, to address quality issues that are difficult for human beings to detect, and to incorporate made-to-order or mass customization capabilities. As suppliers, OEMs and other stakeholders of the Indian auto industry strive to overcome challenges made bigger or created by Covid-19, a shift towards hyper-intelligent digital technologies is also found to be growing. This, especially in view of the announcement to roll-out 5G later this year. The primary reasons being given in favour of this move are an ability to achieve resilience and develop immunity against market uncertainties in future.

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