Transforming Manufacturing By Creating A Smarter Environment

by Thiagarajan N, Director - IT, IMI Critical Engineering


Industry 4.0 is the topic very popular today because of its big influence on manufacturing. The phrase 'Industry 4.0' has been in use for a few years, but has started to gather more traction only in the last year or two in the form of Digitization. Now, as it gathers force, Industry 4.0 looks ever more likely to come to life and businesses should prepare to make the most of the opportunities it presents and deal with the impact.

Industry 4.0 is focused on creating smart environment in the manufacturing process. The Manufacturing sector is an important pillar of our economy, and digital manufacturing is a Key enabler to ensure competitiveness for the sector. It contributes between 25 to 30% of our GDP.

Industry 4.0 is focused on creating intelligent products, processes and procedures. The essence of the industry 4.0 is in the Internet of Things and Internet of Services. Computers and automation will come together, in particular based on cyber physical production systems that integrate communications, IT, data and physical elements and these systems transform the traditional plants into smart factories.

1st Industrial revolution - Machines and Utilization of machines

2nd Industrial revolution - Mass production (Volume) 

3rd Industrial revolution - Employing Automation

4th Industrial revolution - Cyber physical system (Machine talking to Machine)

Today's condition in India Industry 4.0 needs to be differentiated from prevailing concepts such as;

1. IoT (Internet Of Things)
2. Big Data
3. 3D Printing
4. Automation (Siloes)

It will be the combination of intelligent machines, informed manufacturing and processes.

1. Create new routes towards lighter capital intensity and increased value.

2. Reduce capital employed utilization and increase profit. 

India has a long way to travel to become world's preferred manufacturing destination. Majority of the problem lies in Infrastructure issues, Bureaucracy and availability of energy sources. It is already estimated that majority of our Indian Industries are presently in a situation between Industry 2.0 and Industry 3.0. It means we are still heavily relying on standalone machineries for Mass production. As more and more overseas clients are engaged in the trend of intelligent production and data exchange, they also include more and more Industry 4.0 elements in to their supplier requirements.

What should our Manufacturing companies need to do?

To address the local trend of product and service customization, our industries must change the gear to close the gap with Industry 4.0. The new industry revolution will require an enhanced approach to protect the future of our competitiveness. Industry 4.0 emphasizes the idea of consistent digitization and changes the economic rules of the industry.

Smart manufacturing marries information technology and human to bring rapid revolution in the development of manufacturing industries.

Key Challenges for the Indian Manufacturing companies to adopt Industry 4.0

The ownership of adopting new technologies and Management change will have to be driven by the C-suite team (at present it is a short term mindset).

* Top Management needs to give space for the next generation.

* Accelerate and Embrace beyond Digitization.

* Shortage of skill sets.

* Increase in Data volume, therefore adequate IT systems to analyze the data.

* Needs a long term commitment.

* Is not a single industry solution but has a widespread impact.

* Needs interdisciplinary collaboration. 

Key Risks for the Industries to move on to Industry 4.0

Technology is more or less present today, but;

1. Data security
2. Lack of Standardization
3. Social Impact
4. Growth of IoT market are considered to be the key risks.


Fundamentally this is about developing product and service solutions to our customers. Companies can evolve their market offerings, moving from a traditional physical core product to a comprehensive digital ecosystem.