Industry Report

Digital Technology: A Rising Priority for CEOs

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Industrial leaders are digitising essential functions within their internal vertical operations processes and are focused on driving both revenue growth and operational efficiencies.

Schmalz is the global supplier of vacuum technology in automation, handling and clamping applications. SM Jacob, General Manager, Schmalz India explains how digitisation is becoming an integral part in the manufacturing process. Interview excerpts:

Why digitisation is important
Today manufacturers in particular are being revolutionised by digital technologies. The customer has far more power than in the past. Customers increasingly demand high quality, low cost, fast delivery, and the ability to order fully individualised products. Batch size of “One” is ruling now. As companies are depending on digital technologies to achieve global reach, customers are using mobile and social platforms to wield global influence. If they’re not satisfied with the products and services, they can easily turn to competitors, regardless of location.

Mass customisation affects R&D, procurement, warehousing, and delivery. But the impact on production is especially profound. The equipment need to be designed and configured to handle individualised products. Flexible production lines and processes should be established that can respond to each customer’s order. The equipment and the people need to be increasingly interconnected and responsive and need to produce with much greater speed and flexibility.

Digital is now a priority in India
Digital is now a priority for most CEOs of industrial companies in India. Industrial leaders are digitising essential functions within their internal vertical operations processes and are focused on driving both revenue growth and operational efficiencies.

Industrial companies in India and Asia-Pacific have the advantage to leapfrog ahead of those in the developed economies given their greenfield starting positions. As a result, they have fewer legacy issues pertaining to outdated systems, processes, technological capabilities, etc., which need to be addressed.

Schmalz products for ‘smart factory’
Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Cloud computing.

Schmalz already started to align its products suitable for Industry 4.0. The SCPSi compact ejectors and SNGi-AE type needle grippers are already equipped with IO link and NFC technology which make them suitable for Industry 4.0 thus facilitating the way to communicate and cooperate in real time. Schmalz would roll out more products in this technology which is going to rule the future.

The future envisioned in the IoT and Industry 4.0 has already arrived for the automation segment, where increasing flexibility and network integration is the order of the day. Schmalz’s intelligent devices, termed as Smart Field Devices, have been capable of making available important process data. The company equips devices such as the SCPSi compact ejector and the SNGi-AE needle gripper with I/O links necessary for transmitting the data acquired at the field level up to the control, process, management and company.

Prepared for the future
Schmalz has already adopted digitisation in the manufacturing process. All the sales activities are carried out through Customer Relation Management software named Sales Logix where all the information of customers, offers and visit reports, to dos, and action plan, fixing appointments are available. This is used by the company’s sales force extensively.

The complete order management, shipment planning, shipment, invoicing etc. are also done digitally with a help of software. The complete production process, planning, production, raw material planning, job card, machine allotment, monitoring production etc. are carried out through ProSes software.

The inventory management and finance and accounts are also digitised fully.

In short Schmalz is fully prepared for the future to serve its customers with exemplary products which will enhance the customer satisfaction.

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