IOT ushers in Industry 4.0. Is Pune logged on?
Namita Shibad opens the proverbial Pandora’s Box that is Internet of Things (IoT) and finds a revolution sweeping away business processespune Updated: Sep 10, 2017 15:04 IST
It’s being tom-tommed as the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0. “The internet took all the data and made it available to people,” says Nikhil Bhaskaran of 6mrt.com, a set-up that aims to train young engineers in Internet of Things (IoT) technology and then, invest in them. “Then social media connected people. Now imagine what will happen if we connect machines.”
Like a leading tyre manufacturer in Inda has done.
Says Niraj Verma, ED at KPMG, Pune, “This tyre manufacturer has built a smart factory. Everything from minuscule to major actions like tracking material movement and machine efficiency is all automated. It is the machine that makes the decision.” And it is the chip loaded in the machine that makes the machine smart.
According to a Gartner study, worldwide, 20.4 billion “things” will be connected by 2020 and total spending on this will be $1 trillion. “That’s how big the IoT opportunity is,” says Bhaskaran. Is Pune poised to grab this humungous opportunity?
“Even though we have a big talent pool of engineers and engineering colleges in Pune, sadly most are not even aware of this. Even top IT companies are waiting for this kind of work to come to them, they are not willing to teach or train its employees in IoT,” says Bhaskaran.
The IoT opportunity depends heavily on imagination and creativity. Says Verma, “Though the opportunities are vast, they are hard to outline. The Michelin tyre manufacturer has introduced a leasing model where auto manufacturers can lease their tyres. They have to put a chip onto their tyres that will track how many kilometres your car runs and you pay per km. Five years ago who would have thought of using IoT this way? IoT can be used in a myriad ways. It can be made smarter to connect a chip to the car’s electrical system and let drivers know how much the tyre has worn out, how much air pressure is there and so on. People are still grappling with the ways in which this technology can be used. In the West, Siemens, GE, Bosch, Rockwell are the early movers. In India you see people using predictive analytics more.”
What do companies seek from IoT?
Says Swapnil Amritkar, co-founder of Entrib, an early mover in the IoT space, “With changes in the automotive regulatory guidelines where they have to give a five-year warranty, it’s become important for them to have traceability along with productivity. Companies need to know at what stage and under what condition, which part of their motorbike has failed. Which is why Bajaj and TVS are actively using IoT platforms in their manufacturing processes.”
Niraj Verma, ED at KPMG, feels that “because it is a new concept and an emerging technology there are very few adapters. Promoter-led companies are grappling with this new frontier - will it deliver what it promises? Most are waiting to see results. “I feel that it is consultancies like us who have failed to communicate the benefits of IoT. If a company asks can I use IoT,
most consultancies do not even understand the depth and breadth of IoT. Its applications are so huge and there is so much confusion about what is digital, machine learning, IoT, analytics that every consultancy has developed its own view about it.”
It is the companies that have cash to burn and see benefits that are switching over to IoT, like a leading refinery company or Mahindra. Since the last three to four years the entire set up at this refinery is connected to the internet. It monitors production, how much of their assets are being utilised, when does a machine drop and so on.
Besides cash, there is also a problem of hardware. Says Amritkar, “We do get inbound queries and often see that the machines that these companies have are old and need to be changed to become connected machines. So we have to first make these changes in their hardware. Also most manufacturers do not have good IT networking systems.”
“The other aspect related to IoT business is that there are no specific solutions,” says Anand Bhandare who leads the IoT practice at ThoughtWorks. “The solutions offered have to be customised for a particular industry. So say if a logistics company was to ask for IoT solutions there would be nothing available unless it were made to fit that company’s requirement.”
Most startups in Pune focus on manufacturing possibly because there is the industrial belt in and around the city. Which is why areas like retail are often ignored.
“But”, says Bhandare, “IoT can be used to increase sales. For example, if I am a user of Arrow shirts and am passing by the Arrow store at a mall. By putting a blue tooth beacon on the shirt, a customer would get a notification that the store is offering some deal.
“RoI in machines can be seen immediately but in sales it takes time as the process is longer.” This is a rainbow of opportunities and there is the promised pot of gold at its end, meanwhile, one has to decipher all the shades of this new tool before hitting gold.