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Designing Smart and Resilient Manufacturing – Management strategies and tools

With resources becoming increasingly scarce, competition between industries getting fiercer and technology advancing at an incredible pace, pressure is building on the Indian manufacturing sector to become more efficient in order to keep up with the global advancements.  In such a scenario, achieving performance efficiency and cost savings through optimization of Overall Equipment Effectiveness becomes most critical for any business today; and designing Smart and Resilient Manufacturing seems to be the virtuous answer. Smart manufacturing (SM) solutions, by implying beyond a traditional manufacturing process, facilitate better process execution; assist better practices by utilizing intelligent insights born out of the data collected from multiple areas within a factory; and enable flexibility and adaptability in today’s globally dynamic market setting. These solutions don’t just ensure modifying the core processes of the factory but also look at how the existing capacity and processes can be utilized better. Undoubtedly, Smart Manufacturing is likely to spur a big revolution in the industrial sector soon. 

Key discussion areas: 

• How an improvement in quality, productivity is interdependent on resource efficiency and sustainability?

• What management strategies and systems work to drive and sustain desired outcomes?

• What are the key trends that will drive the industry and measures to be taken to stay relevant?

A round-table discussion convened by Sustainability Outlook at the 6th Annual Summit of the Sustainable Business leadership Forum 2016, witnessed business leaders and experts from Textile and Auto manufacturing sectors  sharing their valuable insights on different pillars of smart manufacturing - management strategies and tools. The objective of this round-table was to examine the pathways for:  (a) Revitalizing manufacturing (zero defects) and (b) Reimagining energy and water resources (zero effect on environment and society) through discussing key industry trends, sharing framework for smart manufacturing with illustrative case studies and having an ‘action oriented’ discussion with the  key experts.

Given that the time-tested tools around process efficiency (including  six-sigma, lean manufacturing, kaizen, TQM etc) are being linked to  efficient operations and resource management and at the same  time, Smart manufacturing is being enabled through the internet of  things (IoT) and analytical tools– the key question is how can the manufacturing firms design their operations for resilience - looking at 2020 and beyond?

 In this context, cKinetics as a mission driven Sustainability innovation enabler shared its experience in equipping organizations  with resilient approaches and tools to make the transition towards sustainable low carbon pathways smooth and easy. The  proprietary framework of cKinetics for adoption of Smart Manufacturing (figure 1) based on their vast consulting experience,  was presented in the session.

Main pillars of cKinetics approach:

  • Process excellence
  • Resource efficiency
  • Data analytics and IOT
  • Training and capacity building
  • Automation

A case study was also discussed by cKinetics about how it helped a leading denim dyeing plant in India avail additional Rs. 200 crore revenue potential with same water and thermal energy resources. Applying tools like value added water (VAW) and integrated energy management (IEM) resulted in reduction of water and thermal energy demand. Further, there was capital investment reduction of Rs. 5 crore towards ZLD implementation, Rs. 50 lakh towards boiler expansion making a successful case for a positive business impact. Other lead discussants also shared their experiences and insights through business examples during the session. 


Sustainability led resource and process efficiency: key to enabling diverse Business needs

Given that the manufacturing industry is experiencing Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) conditions, skilling and resilient performance optimization becomes an inherent challenge. Complexity of manufacturing is increasing coupled with escalating costs (material, people and energy) due to demand side energy productivity; rampant increase in product proliferation and short term volatility / supply-demand cycles -- eventually resulting into need for flexible delivery schedules and reduction of machine downtime, demand for resilience and quality control for critical operations.      

According to Mr. TN Thirukumar, MD, Jansons Industries Ltd., it’s time that the Indian manufacturers focus on importance of data and role of key performance indicators  along with implementation of various lean tools that would directly help in excelling in quality and manufacturing goods at highly competitive prices. Mr. Shrinivas Naik, Head- Business Sustainability, Arvind Lifestyle stressed on measuring and monitoring of resource use as one of the most important factors required for smart and resilient manufacturing.  Mr. Naik also discussed how de-skilling or automation is the need of the hour; and it is not just a step but a process required for achieving smart and resilient manufacturing.

The choices and attention span of customers are dynamically changing. Customers are expecting new and cheaper products faster than ever, demanding quality products and are less willing to accept variations in quality parameters of products.  The fact that customer base is global, with differences in customer tastes, culture and a country’s government policies –the issue of changing buying preferences of customers poses even more difficulty for the businesses operating globally, especially from the management point of view. Stressing on process efficiency, resource efficiency, Mr. Biswajit Nanda, VP (Operations), Shahi Exports, discussed how buyers’ changing behavior has a direct impact on inventory management, also makes environmental and resource planning tougher. He shared that his company, Shahi Exports met this challenge by minimizing the gap between what they achieved in the “lab” and what they could achieve in the “bulk” and that made their systems ‘more predictable’.

Also, high attrition rates among the factory workers and unstable, unskilled workforce portents a major challenge. Mr. Manoj Menon, ED & CEO, Mahindra Gears and Transmission pointed on the need for adjusting with increased people’s willingness to change; enhancing firm’s capacity to be able to foresee changes in attrition rates or unstable workforce and thereby, train the workforce efficiently. He shared the example of “Heijunka system” for better inventory management and management of uncertainties, risks of supply chain. Mr. Vineet Lall, MD, Modelama Skills, stressed on identifying the “skills gaps” in manufacturing sector and focusing on developing the listening and communication skills of the workers. Promoting active listening among the workers was also put forth as a suggestion, by one of the panelists.  

Meeting customers’ expectations and advancing capacity building will augment Smart Manufacturing in India 

The roundtable saw key participation of Mr. Prakash Patankar, Director –Process Excellence, cKinetics. According to Mr. Patankar, smart manufacturing ultimately has to serve the customers only; so fulfilling customers’ expectations becomes critical for the Indian firms. Secondly, the whole business is being affected by diverse competitors and new technologies, thus we need to look at using emerging technologies most effectively and efficiently, to serve the customers better.

'Do more and more with less and less’:

Outcomes that can be targeted through enabling resilience in Resource and process Efficiency:

  • Higher Output per Unit of Capital
  • More Inventory Turns per Sales
  • Faster Time-to-Market
  • Lower Rejection Rates
  • Less Human Effort and Floor Space

All the session participants agreed that companies should maintain long-term strategies and develop effective management tools for achieving smart and resilient manufacturing. Targets for reducing resource consumption must be set and actively monitored on a periodic basis. Measuring and monitoring resources use, along with documentation are important for ceaseless smart manufacturing.

Apart from focus on process and resource efficiency, skill development of the workforce and capacity building are equally essential. Bringing transparency in the processes (in financing processes especially) is must; while breaking barriers among different departments in the company ensuring better coordination so that everyone works on the same floor can make room for smarter working as well as efficient executions.       



Author: sustainabilityoutlook