Below are some of the learnings from the discussion on “Embedded Systems for data driven decision-making: Smart Supply-Chain Advantage” from the 13th NASSCOM Design and Engineering Summit held in Oct 2021
In the last few years, we have witnessed many advancements in transformational technologies such as IOT, software-defined, data-driven solutions. And now with the advancements in 5G, these technologies will further witness mass deployment. This is particularly true post pandemic when companies have sped up on their digital transformation journeys. The customer behaviour is also rapidly changing, where they are demanding customized, on-demand solutions.
The adoption of Industry 4.0 across the manufacturing industry has been at the forefront. How have automotive OEMs like Maruti Suzuki adapted to these emerging technologies?
For the auto industry, connected shop floor has not been a new phenomenon. The integration of IT-OT has been present since long. The entire process of production plan incorporated in the IT systems, downloaded to other systems to manage manufacturing, while ensuring the right quality, and the integration of the ecosystem of suppliers into the overall value chain has been an integral part of the entire process. This has been necessary to produce the right car for the right customer at the right time, with the right quality.
The changes with respect to adoption of new technologies has been the integration of IOT platforms into the overall production, manufacturing systems to ensure that all parts and equipments are connected to ensure high efficiencies, reduce failures, and predict stoppages. IOT is fast becoming the backbone of manufacturing and ensuring effective management.
Consumers’ demands are changing rapidly, and they now demand more customized products. How do OEMs such as Maruti Suzuki introduce mass customization using IOT and industry 4.0, while ensuring the adoption of these new technologies across sales, manufacturing, and supply chain?
Post pandemic, the interaction of the OEM with the customer is completely digital. For example, for an auto OEM like Maruti Suzuki, out of the 26 touchpoints, where the customers can interact with the OEMs, approximately 23 of them are now digital. Before starting the interactions, the OEMs already have a lot of data and information about the customers. This data is also used to create a data platform, where the customer demands are gauged and then connected to the manufacturing shopfloor on a real-time or as-required basis. This enables the customer demands and requirements to be integrated with the manufacturing processes on a real time basis to ensure customized products to the customers.
The pandemic interrupted the production systems and led to lockdowns and shutdowns, leading to the adverse effects on the automotive industry. What are the learnings from these shortages which occur and affect across all industries?
Auto sector is an ecosystem and not just a sector, with its effects spilling over to many other sectors, suppliers, and stakeholders. The pandemic affected many sectors and led to lockdowns in a very sudden manner. One big learning for many companies, especially auto OEMs, has been to make the organization agile. Traditionally, an auto OEM works with a levelized production, with same output every day, and with the production planned months in advance, in congruence with the supply chain players. However, post pandemic, the systems had to become agile, considering various challenges and uncertainties. New technology as well as existing systems had to be utilized effectively and efficiently to have visibility of the entire supply chain and value chain, while meeting the customers’ demands. Similarly, with the semiconductor shortage, the companies and OEMs had to be agile and flexible to manage the production cycles well.
Autonomous vehicles are causing a tectonic shift in the industry. How are auto OEMs like Maruti Suzuki responding to such a shift in the market?
Industry 4.0 and IoT are already part of the manufacturing story in the automotive sector. An automobile is no longer just a mode of transportation. With connected vehicles, a car consumes data for remote diagnostics, track and trace, infotainment, predictive maintenance etc. For this, a connected ecosystem is of utmost importance, which becomes more enriched as the systems become mature with the availability of more data.
Autonomous mobility is still at a very nascent stage in India. However, it is expected to mature in the future once more use cases emerge. It is also expected to gain more prominence with more technological advances to deliver the best experience to the customers.
With auto industry using more advanced technologies, particular set of skills are needed which are different from the traditional manufacturing set up. How are auto OEMs like Maruti Suzuki tackling the issue of need for emerging skill sets?
For a core manufacturing organization, the culture is different than an organization which works on digital initiatives. OEMs such as Maruti Suzuki have created separate organizations for core manufacturing and for the digital initiatives. Each set up has employees with specific skill sets. The digital organization / set up has deep ties with the start up community, incubators etc. As many as 19 start-ups are already a part of Maruti Suzuki supply chain, with many becoming permanent vendors as well. Hence, it is necessary to have the right culture to nurture the digital initiative, to attract and nurture the right talent, be open to innovate and integrate outside players, and have the right partners helping to achieve the goal.