Traditional factory floor practices are being reconfigured as manufacturing companies increasingly adopt automation and artificial intelligence throughout value chains in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are in an environment that is getting more and more volatile every day,” said Siemens India MD Sunil Mathur, panelist at The Economic Times Back to Business Dialogues on the theme of Automating Business, Accelerating Growth. “At the same time, customers are becoming even more demanding. The challenge that most manufacturing companies are facing is how to balance these two.”
If procurement and retail are managed digitally, AI can analyse the data for better demand prediction. “Therefore, the whole supply chain will get compressed,” said Pawan Goenka, MD, Mahindra & Mahindra.
They were among participants at the latest Back to Business Dialogues, a series of webinars featuring the sharpest business minds on how to cope with post-Covid challenges. The main theme was broken down into two — the increased role and impact of automation in manufacturing, and harnessing the power of data and automation in organisations.
Automation leads to a reduction in cost, but not all the time, said ABB India MD Sanjeev Sharma.
“That is why it is very important that when you deploy automation as a process or a plan, you should be very clear what kind of return you will be expecting out of that investment,” he said.
SAP Labs India MD Sindhu Gangadharan said, “With the lockdown, we have realised that those businesses who relied on physical interactions with customers and did not make that jump (to digitalisation) early on really suffered.”
Hero MotoCorp has eliminated paperwork when moving goods from factories and switched to robotic process automation (RPA).
“The whole thing is now done by RPA, by robots, so people aren’t scared of who is coming,” said CIO Vijay Sethi. “This has led to a huge increase in efficiency, reduction in errors and increase in quality.”