Current day manufacturing covers a wide spectrum of industries — crafts, processed food, textiles, pharma, medical devices etc.
Artificial Intelligence with deep human and machine learning shall enable India to take top position among the leading manufacturing nations and achieve large employment.
Manufacturing with digital platforms for competitiveness, high employment and wealth generation advanced manufacturing is a wide spectrum multi- and inter-disciplinary domain where learning from experiences, simulation and modelling, materials, sensors with Internet of Things (IoT), supply-chain robustness, life cycle management, innovations through imaginations and commercialisation should work in synergy with right expertise of human resources, facilities, infrastructure and polices.
Current day manufacturing covers a wide spectrum of industries — crafts, processed food, textiles, pharma, medical devices etc. The emphasis is on software, design, manufacturing, validation of the products and capturing the imagination of customers for needs and delight through larger and more effective use of digital technologies. Manufacturing remains an engaging frontier of all emerging and advanced nations.
High value and high-end customers choose products based on differentiating qualities of the products. For most customers, affordability, meeting their requirements, value for money and, of course, unique appeal of the product are the reasons for choice of, and loyalty to, the product.
Sustainability in the 21st century is a key binding influence for any product commercialisation as investments in products which destroy the environment and nature don’t find favour with investors, customers, and policy-makers.
Sustainability, in simple terms, means minimum inputs, maximum value, low impact on the environment over the life cycle, repair, reuse, recycling and management practices to achieve the above parameters. In a country like India, manufacturing, technology, employment and sustainability thus become highly intertwined and require high level of expertise with interdisciplinary approaches and competence. It is clear that manufacturing and services (life cycle performance) are moving closer in the digital world, providing India another opportunity to leapfrog.
Digital and distributed manufacturing with digital enhanced supply chains and innovations enabling digital platforms to design, make choice of appropriate materials and manufacturing through processes like additive manufacturing with lasers, arc torches, electron beams, etc. are at the forefront of priorities for creating human resources at all skill levels, infrastructure and polices.
Digital supply chains and manufacturing with or without automation and robotics leading to industries 4.0 requires validated cyber physical support systems through cloud-based software for enhancing productivity, quality, value of products, satisfying customers’ specific needs and aspirations. These platforms are specifically important for MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) which supply individual components for automobiles, defence, customer products such as crafts, textiles, packed food, etc. Their competitiveness and survival are key to national employment and economy growth.
Inclusive manufacturing competence through involvement of all stakeholders, employing advanced technologies for meeting common needs with attractive products and catering to nearly bottom of pyramid skill workers with minimal digital training is a pathway, in contrast to low-cost, mass manufacturing of products with least sustainable technologies.
Digital manufacturing leading to industry 4.0 is dependent on big data generation and analytics, robust cyber security systems, appropriate intellectual property regimes and new standards. It also requires mindsets of sharing, competing while collaborating.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a key enabler in digital design, supply chains, manufacturing and life cycle management. AI with deep human and machine learning shall enable India to take top position among the leading manufacturing nations and achieve large employment. AI for India in domain of future manufacturing means in a real world creating innovative quality products in spectrum of manufacturing (different emphasis and game plan for different sectors) with equity (inclusive) and sustainability (low inputs, high value and least waste).
India, through the right road map, has a window of real opportunity considering current realities and aspirations.
AI in manufacturing and life cycle services occupies centre stage in China, USA, Europe, Japan, among other countries. Thus, Indian strategy, policies, competence, capacity and capability need to be synergised and accelerated.
(The writer is director, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru)