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manufacturing at the speed of innovation - Round table conference

Innovation in technology as well as business processes have become the order of the day, and as part of our endeavour at MPSTME to be in close connection with the happenings in the industry, a Roundtable was organized. The purpose of the Roundtable was to know how the new technologies are changing the manufacturing framework of organizations in India and understand the operational and organizational implications of the technology in terms of new structures, skill sets and employee related processes.

17 Industry icons were part of the Round table conference which was rich with knowledge, insights and learnings for the students and institute.

The delegates comprised of

Mr. Sunil Khanna - Emerson,
Mr. Bishwanath Ghosh - Mahindra & Mahindra,
Mr. Sanjay Prasad - Tata Power,
Mr. Bharat Anant Chavan - ACC Limited,
Mr. Samit Datta - Piramal,
Mr. Sandip Sen - Tata Consulting Engineers,
Mr. Anand Ramadurai - Pidilite,
Mr. Awasare - Godrej,
Mr. Sanjay Sinha - Voltas,
Mr. Avinash Dixit - Setco Auto,
Mr. Hemant Narvekar - Siemens,
Mr. Mandar Joshi - IVP india,
Mr. Pravin Bhamare - TCS,
Mr. Joy Aloor - Fox India,
Mr. Harish Chatterjee - Raymond,
Mr. Nickil Baswan - Cipla,
Mr. Arun T Ramchandani - L & T (Heavy Engineering Div.).

The Round table conference began with opening remarks by Dr.Sharad Mhaiskar, Dean , MPSTME.It was followed by a Welcome address by our mentor Dr. J.P.Gandhi and context setting address by Dr. Rajan Saxena , Vice-Chancellor – NMIMS and Dr. Anuja Agarwal, Associate Dean (Technology management).

direction of future Innovations and road ahead

The Round table conference discussed some of the important issues in the manufacturing industry such as Innovation, Digitalisation, 3-D printing, robotics, IOT, Digital manufacturing. Benchmarks for efficiencies and Product-life cycles have changed. The skills required to lead in the manufacturing sector in this dynamic atmosphere of change and innovation were deliberated. Participants gave insights and live examples from their industries on how innovation and technology are driving change.

Some of the key points discussed are summarised below.

Present Stage of Innovation & it’s adaptation by the Industry:

  • The manufacturing sector see’s disruptions due to innovations on a daily basis, but it is important for companies to adapt fast, and in a sustainable manner. 
  • The speed at which you adapt is key to success in marketplace. 
  • Participants gave examples from textile manufacturing and cement manufacturing about how technology and innovation has increased production outputs substantially and also reduced the manpower requirement. The whole focus is thus on “Can we do this faster and better?”
  • Due to advancements in technology and innovations, manual operations across the sector are becoming automated, which causes employees to feel threatened. But the delegates say that, most employees usually take this as an opportunity to uplift themselves and their skill sets, if the company gives them such an opportunity. 
  • The delegates not only discussed innovations in technology and products, but also in business process; for example Uber. 
  • They discussed how innovation has decreased the need of manpower, as well as other utilities. Hence there is a need to train manpower continuously so that can be utilised more effectively.
  • System innovations has allowed companies to manufacture more than 7000 SKU’s successfully, while also managing supply chain and logistics operations effectively. A major contributor to this has come from the knowledge of Business Intelligence and Analytics.

Why & how of Innovation

  • The delegates discussed how 3 things have contributed to this sector’s growth, and those are: Automation, Digitalisation, and Innovative Thinking clubbed with an open mind-set. 
  • For innovative thinking, the company itself has to provide platforms for such thinking within their organisation, and nourish “out of the box” thinking among employees. 
  • India is a country, famous for “Jugaad”, and the delegates discussed many such examples, one of them saying that they even used packets of Maggi noodles as a fuel source, when the product was off the market.
  • They believe that innovation is not just a top to down approach, but more of a bottom to top approach, and the Race to compete will last only till the customers profit from it. 
  • They have seen that all those companies which have not automated their systems, have been wiped out, sooner or later and even though Digitalisation has taken the industry to new heights, it's big wave is yet to come. This is because it has made instant success of experiments possible, due to simulation. 
  • Speed of innovation is critical – how are other companies doing it. 
  • Some organizations have an exclusive building for innovation incubation centre to nurture innovation within the organization.

Likely direction of future Innovations and road ahead

  • Environmental norms are becoming stricter and this is becoming critical for manufacturing organizations 
  • There is a revolution in materials and a lot needs to be done in this area in India. 
  • The marketing representatives of the sector said that it was also important to take ideas and concerns of customers into consideration, and link the market (or what sells) to the field of Manufacturing. 
  • Participants also discussed the impact of GST which would further impact how and where the companies produce.
  • When discussing 3D printing, they agree that it has contributed to the innovations in the manufacturing sector, but still feel that there is a long time before mass production can be achieved from it. 
  • Participants spoke about the importance of IOT, integration of systems, Cognitive and artificial intelligence, and how products are soon turning into services: for example, the product of water purifier has turned into the service of purified water. Hence slowly, market is shifting to services industry. 
  • Patents and IP would be an essential way to manage innovation, and future trends would heavily be based on Machine learning, essentially to make sense of data available and bring inventory down to zero. 
  • Safety, affordability, scale and effectiveness is essential in the processes involving chemicals or technology and hence they see Nanotechnology to be big part of the future, along with greener and sustainable operation, however, currently there have been no major innovations or advancements in Industrial materials, they said.
  • Since safety in the sector is of utmost importance, innovations have been made to increase safety of workers as well. For example; drones can now deliver live footage of areas where it would have otherwise been dangerous to send workers to inspect. This also reduces time. 
  • Participants spoke about the “Inside-out” approach for innovation. For example, what all is required in a car and then build a body around it. 
  • From Concept to actual car development it takes 24 months and Totyota leads with a turnaround time of 15 months. It will require huge efforts to reduce this time further. Idea to market time was discussed in detail and is critical for success in the global market place. 
  • Data is garbage if you are unable to use it. Data analytics through technology is critical to convert data into meaningful applications.
  • In the power sector, big changes can happen like in telecom. Can consumers change power companies like they can change SIM cards? Companies have to look into the future and anticipate and prepare for such disruptions. 
  • You cannot afford to fail. Trial and error days are gone. You need to have predictability. You need to have simulations which can help predict failures. 
  • Participants discussed the company expenditures on R&D and Learning and Development and their importance in the context of innovation. 
  • Importance of Kaizen awards and “First time right club” were discussed which motivate and bring out the best from the people

Message to MPSTME:

  • Participants discussed the importance of technological knowledge and managerial knowledge for becoming a successful leader in the industry. Participants largely voted in the favour of 70:30 (70 % technology and 30 % management) 
  • We need managers with common sense. We need managers who can “roll their sleeves” and work on the shop-floor. 
  • The fact that the NMIMS University has combined technology and management has been much appreciated by the participants. They would however, also like to see more hands on work being done by students. 
  • The consensus of the delegates was that knowledge regarding technology was far more important for a company to have, rather than managerial knowledge, as they feel that any technologically knowledgeable person can become a manager, but not vice versa. 
  • The table suggested that the university’s students interact more with the Industry, and try to take as much knowledge from them as possible, as some of these companies have their own learning and development centres, which they would use to guide and train students.
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