Achieving More With Less

-Bhaskar Mandal, Head, Digital Industries, Siemens Limited


“A run saved is worth a run scored” is not just true for cricket, it is as much valid in the world of manufacturing.

Hence, reducing waste, adopting lean, light-weighting, reducing energy consumption, reducing rejections, in a nutshell – doing more with less is the key to sustainability.

Digitalization empowers manufacturers to embark on initiatives which make these possible. Reducing waste demands value engineering, sometimes accompanied by material substitution which would need revalidation of intended performance improvement and this can be achieved with digital design and engineering simulation.

For example, a prominent domestic player in the FMCG industry deployed the industry software solution Tecnomatix to achieve synchronization between product engineering, manufacturing engineering, production, and service operations to maximize their production efficiency. With this, they were able to achieve 30% space optimisation in their manufacturing line. The best part is that using the same software they could easily implement social distancing norms during Covid-19. The same organisation had also implemented Simcenter STAR-CCM+ which is a Multiphysics computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software for the simulation of products operating under real-world conditions. This single integrated environment includes everything from CAD, automated meshing, Multiphysics CFD, sophisticated postprocessing, and design exploration enabling the organization to achieve energy efficiency by 8-10%.

Digital twins of products help simulate product behaviour and virtual product testing. Multiple, viable product alternatives can therefore, be evaluated and the most optimum gets selected avoiding expensive physical prototypes. Concurrently, alternative manufacturing strategies for the viable designs are evaluated with the objective of improving operational metrics. Cycle time reduction, improved machine utilization, reduced changeover time, optimum scheduling, improved throughput, reduced reworks and rejections are a few valuable benefits drawn from digital twin of production as shop-floor decisions are validated using digital manufacturing even before the start of production. An Indian automotive manufacturer had integrated the digital twin of production with all what-if scenarios, virtual simulation & testing. Further, with PLC program validations, electrical & mechanical outlay validations they could simulate how components will interact on the line/ in a cell. With this they could considerably reduce commissioning time leading to cost reductions and higher flexibility.

Digital integration between engineering and manufacturing functions fosters collaboration and improved decision making. Digital twin of performance results in IoT ready shopfloor complemented by cloud strategy and analytics and it helps achieve first-time right output, on time, at cost and with world-class quality. Here, it is exciting to see even SMEs and start-ups reap the benefits of digitalization across the manufacturing value chain. With an integrated digitalization approach, an Indian start-up operating in the warehouse management solutions space was able to improve efficiency by 50% and reduce commissioning time from over 12 months to less than 6 months. Connection of real world with virtual world also enabled them to achieve seamless integration with the supply chain for easy administration and logistical flexibility with various internal & external stakeholders.

Thinking, planning, and working with an eye on tomorrow – in the past that has been the difference between good companies and excellent ones. In the future, it will be even more important as companies battle to stay ahead in global competition. Sustainability is no longer a corporate social responsibility issue but must be adopted as a way of life.

All it takes is management’s commitment – to prioritize areas of improvement, support investments and empower cross-functional teams to adopt digital technologies with purpose – to improve products, to reduce waste, enhance operational transparency and most importantly, take decisions based on data. Leaders emerge at all levels to take charge and collaborate to solve problems, morale improves as people realize success, environment of trust fosters as investments show returns and organizations transform as new ways to do things get adopted.

And the best part? All the above is not theory, we have the technologies and proven processes available here with a growing number of first movers already today in the Indian industry, including SMEs who are reaping the benefits of this new Digitalization era. We need to increase the momentum and work towards our vision of a technology enabled & sustainable Atmanirbhar India!