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The Advent of Industry 4.0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL-LX9YULH8

It is perhaps impossible to name a sector or industry that the CAMS technology explosion has not touched. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that manufacturing cycles as well as methodologies of traditional supply chains models are being relooked and reinvented. So much so, that a new term has been coined for this emerging era of connected and information driven enterprises – Industry 4.0.

While change might very well be the only constant from a technology perspective, the traditional challenges in the arena of manufacturing are still the same. Fuel uncertainty, land water optimizations, meeting CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitments) regulations, power shortages etc. are all valid concerns in the 21st century. What has changed however, is a new way of approaching these problems. Predictive analytics implemented through smart grids has made it possible to automate and optimize resource at every corner of the supply chain.

Government, usually slow to the uptake, has been surprisingly agile in adapting to Industry 4.0. NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation Limited) recently signed an MoU with the Jharkand government to build the North Karanpura Thermal Power Station which is to be India’s biggest power plant. At the ARC Web Conference in Bangalore, Ms Arundhati Bhatttacharya, General Manager NTPC announced that NTPC is committed to adding 10kMW from 2015-2019. ‘NTPC is entering into solar fields, with the government’s focus on renewables,’ she said.

All of the above mentioned initiatives will be facilitated by NTPC’s M&D (Monitoring and Diagnostics) centre in Noida. Christened ‘Antariksh’, the fleet monitoring system is based on the concept of ‘Move Data, not People’. The centre will be enabled with advanced analytics tools such as ‘Fishbone tools’ for root cause analysis of plant alarms and performance optimization tools for equipment performance analysis. More importantly however, is the introduction of early warning systems of incipient equipment failure through advanced pattern recognition software. Such systems are a manifestation of analytical tools signalling a shift from being ‘reactive’ to being ‘proactive’. Put otherwise from a manufacturing standpoint, these tools have enabled a paradigm shift from diagnostics to prognostics.

Analytics is however, not the only buzz word driving industry trends. According to a recent study by Cisco, the Internet of Things will create 14.4 trillion dollars in value at stake, i.e., the combination of increased revenues and lower costs that is created or will migrate among companies and industries from 2013 to 2022. 27% of this sizable pie, i.e. 3.8 trillion dollars will be constituted by manufacturing of devices facilitating greater agility and flexibility in factories, and from the ability to make the most of workers’ skills.

A wonderful exemplification of the potential of this 3.8 trillion dollars at stake, is the recent collaboration between Microsoft CGI and ThyssenKrupp to build a smart elevator system. Thousands of sensors and systems monitor motor temperature, shaft alignment, cab speed, door functioning etc. and transmit this data to the Microsoft Azure Cloud. The solution provides technicians with instant diagnostic capabilities and rich, real-time data visualisation in order to provide two basic types of data: alarms that indicate an immediate issue, and events, which are stored and used for management.

In another instance recognizing Cisco’s prophecy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently launched the Centre of Excellence in IoT as part of the Digital India Program. The centre is a joint venture by National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY) and Education and Research Network (ERNET). The primary goals of the centre will be to nurture and develop scholars and entrepreneurs to leverage new age technologies in order to address issues like transport system, parking, electricity etc.

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