‘Manufacturing industry is a core focus vertical for KPIT Cummins’
Girish Wardadkar, President and Executive Director, KPIT Cummins Infosystems Ltd, in this interview with Dilip S. Phansalkar, talks about the company’s pivotal role in providing business and technology solutions for CTO, CIO and CFO of global customers.
Which sectors does KPIT Cummins serve?
Established in 1990, KPIT Cummins is a specialist provider of domain intensive engineering services and IT consulting to its manufacturing customers. We focus strongly on co-creating technology solutions for corporations in the automotive, industrial & farm equipment and hi-tech & semiconductor space to help them become efficient, integrated and innovative enterprises. We combine technology and process expertise to build solutions for our customers helping them bring products faster to their target markets and in globalizing their processes & systems seamlessly.
As a widely recognized leader in IP-led (Intellectual Property) technology solutions and services, we currently partner with over 125 global manufacturing corporations including 13 automotive OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), more than 30 automotive component manufacturers and Tier 1s and 7 of the world’s top 10 semiconductor companies.
What expertise does the company offer to manufacturing and engineering application sector?
Today’s collaborative manufacturing industry needs to implement enterprise-wide solutions that enable business profitability and growth. We help manufacturing companies optimally leverage their IT investments to capture new business opportunities and share more product information with partners, suppliers and customers. Manufacturing industry is a core focus vertical for KPIT Cummins and today, we service over 125 large manufacturing organizations across the world. We combine industry specific knowledge with technology expertise to create accelerated solutions that deliver real, tangible value for manufacturing business. We ensure that our solutions help our clients achieve new levels of efficiency, productivity and profitability.
Our experience and focus in the manufacturing vertical provides our customers consultancy expertise to meet the challenges of shrinking lifecycles, faster time-to-market, global sourcing and mass customization. KPIT Cummins provides business and technology solutions for the CTO, CIO and CFO of global customers.
KPIT Cummins offers specialist end-to-end solutions and services for the entire value chain from silicon to applications.
As technology continues to benefit manufacturing, our partners leverage our extensive skill sets on manufacturing to blend IT benefits into their systems and processes.
Where does Indian OEMs stand in respect to international manufacturing standards and application of IT?
Indian manufacturers have been able to meet the highest quality and performance standards with support from automotive research institutes such as Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP) and with support from the consortiums like Society for Indian Automotive Manufacturers (SIAM).
• Most of the manufacturing facilities are ISO certified for process quality and occupational health and safety
• The vehicles manufactured follow the ECE regulations
• Indian Automobile Standards Institute’s regulations are a few years behind the global standards but it is fast developing
• IT applications at Indian OEMs: Indian
• OEMs have adopted best in class and the most modern IT applications for their operations.
• Most Indian OEMs have embraced high-end ERP systems like SAP, Oracle for their supply chain and enterprise integration.
• Indian manufacturers have adopted international best practices in CRM and have gone ahead to implement products like Oracle, Siebel.
• The large companies also have implemented PLM products into their manufacturing processes. Few medium size companies in India have adopted PLM, but these are mostly the Indian arms of Global OEMs.
A few areas offer themselves as productivity leverage such as ‘Manufacturing Execution systems’, ‘Digital Manufacturing’ and automation in supply chain especially adopting flexible manufacturing systems in the light of customer demand variability.
How far has Harita TVS acquisition added value to your core competence?
With the addition of the high end Mechanical Design Engineering capability from Harita, KPIT Cummins strengthened its existing portfolio of Automotive Embedded & Mechanical Engineering Services. It now offers Mechanical Product Design and optimization using high-end software in design and analysis to existing and new global clients in the Automotive & Industrials Verticals mainly in interior, exterior, under the hood with special focus on environment compliance in product design.
Besides design with Harita acquisition we have added Value Engineering and IMDS services also to our portfolio. In the current context value engineering is pertinent.
Value Engineering: This is a process by which we identify the critical functions in a product development lifecycle and try to reduce the lifecycle cost while maintaining the performance, features and functionality of the product. We consult our customers in identifying the core processes and optimizing the plant and manufacturing operations reducing the total cost of operations while maintaining the quality of the product.
International Material Data System (IMDS): IMDS is the automotive industry material data system. It is a joint development of OEMs like Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, Opel, Porsche, VW and Volvo. IMDS was created in response to the EU’s ELV Directive. We help our automotive manufacturing customers create a repository of the material including heavy metals and chemicals used in their products to identify if these are compliant to the End of Life of Vehicle (ELV) requirements of EU. If the material is not adhering to the guidelines we provide the manufacturers consulting on substitute material. This is how we collaborate with Indian OEMs in creating green and environment friendly products.
What are the growth obstacles you see for application of IT in the manufacturing sector?
The application of IT/technology in Indian manufacturers depends on a unique set of drivers, which arise as impediments in the industry:
• Affordability and feasibility – in current times the capacity utilization rates of manufacturing set ups is less than 60 peer cent (at Global Level), this has put tremendous pressure on their plans for investment in discretionary IT/technology implementations.
• Constraints on capacity expansion – several companies have held back there isn’t significant growth in plants/ capacity – this has resulted in diminutive IT investments in the form of roll outs, upgrades and new systems.
• Indian OEMs are also faced by the challenges of RoI justification. This has increasingly become more short/ medium term driven than being long-term strategy driven.
• Preserve costs – manufacturers are striving to reduce costs on IT infrastructure and application maintenance.
These barriers however have resulted into evolution of newer options for IT implementation, such as:
• Alternate Service Models
• Software as a Service – provider licenses application to customers for use as service on demand
• Services on Demand
• Services on Premises – installation are done at the customers’ campus however the service and maintenance is done from the providers’ location.
• Consulting – we aim to deliver on the CIO goals by helping customer reduce Total Cost of Operations, improving system effectiveness by improvements in system coverage/ usage and systematic retrial of resources.
What is the idea behind DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communication)?
Consider a situation where you are driving on a road and a speeding car is driving towards you from behind. With DSRC a communication channel is established between the two vehicles. To your car it provides a warning telling that another car is speeding towards you therefore you should either drive faster or change the lane. Similarly to the car coming from behind it provides a signal that you have another car approximately XX meters away from you in your way hence you should slow down. Another example, imagine a situation where your car gets stuck on a road because you run out of gasoline and you are not aware where the nearest gas station is. With DSRC you can send signal to the nearest infrastructure e.g. a network pole which in turn sends signal to the gas station and sends back signal to you. This is possible through DSRC protocol. DSRC requires a complete hardware and software stack. KPIT Cummins has completed the development process of a complete software stack which is under tests.
Please explain vision systems for automotive, and what purpose do they serve? What vital aid does the Lane Departure Warning System provide the drivers?
With increasing vehicles on road, everyday driving has become more challenging be it on crowded city roads & bylanes or traveling between two cities on a highway. There are several reasons that may trigger high stress levels while driving – e.g. driving for long hours which may cause the driver to shut eyes momentarily due to fatigue. These couple of seconds may drive off your car away from the road and may hit another car in the neighboring lane. Vision systems for automotives ensure safe driving despite such situations. Changing a lane on a freeway, staying away from rash drivers, watching all the cars surrounding your car and ensuring that they don’t bump into your car, backing a car for parking it on a busy street etc. are all examples of activities where vision systems for automotive assist the driver.
Today, there is an upsurge of many interesting applications using vision systems. These applications include lane departure warning system, parking assist, blind spot detection, and detection of a drowsy driver. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) urban challenge contest has given a big impetus to the use of cameras and other sensors.
Vision system comprises of a camera, display system, processor, and its heart: the software. There are two types of vision systems. The first type gives you a display of surrounding area of the camera installed on a car. This is like providing the information without any inference. The other type not only provides you with the information but it extracts knowledge out of the information. It will provide additional intelligence that would guide you, warn you, and wake you up in case you are falling asleep on the wheel. It is this type of vision system that is indeed providing an extra pair of watchful eyes.
Nowadays, one can easily purchase a system with some acoustic sensors and a camera. This is useful while you are backing your car. The acoustic sensors sense the distance and sound an alarm if you are too close to hitting a wall or an object. The camera will provide a visual aid in seeing what is behind. However, it will not do any analysis of the scene. This is an example of passive vision system.
Blind Spot Detection
When a car next to you is not visible in the side view mirror, is there no car present on that side? Unfortunately, the answer is one cannot tell for sure. The possibility exists that the car is still there and you can collide with it if you steer your car side ways. However, the other car is not visible in the side view mirror. The point at which the object has gone past the field of view of the side mirror but it is still there is called blind spot. It is the most dangerous situation due to which a number of accidents occur. With a camera positioned properly, one can get a complete view including the objects within the blind spot.
All Round View
Nissan has come up with a technique to get 360-degree view around your car. Four cameras are placed in four corners. They point to the road below. All four views are corrected for skew. These images are stitched to get a complete plan view or a bird’s eye view from the top. This composite image is displayed on the monitor inside the car.
Adaptive Cruise Control
In high end cars driver can set speed of the car and the automated engine speed control system takes care of maintaining the speed despite uphill or down hill roads. The only short coming in such a system is that the driver has to disconnect the system if there is a car in front to avoid any collision. In the future, adaptive cruise control would take care of the problem. A camera would look at the road ahead. It will send images to the computer. In the computer, objects in front of the car will be identified. Car detection algorithm will detect when there is a car or a truck in front. If it is detected, the speed will be reduced to avoid collision.
Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) – A Case Study
At KPIT Cummins, we have been working with NEC Electronics on their special SIMD platform called IMAPCAR (Integrated Memory Array Processor for CAR). This platform has 128, 8-bit processing elements with a 16-bit control processor. Based on its 4 way Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW), it enables up to 100 GOPS (Giga Operations per second) on a 100 MHz clock. This allows fast processing of complex algorithms. When it comes to driver safety, processing speed has to be real time (> 25 Frames per second). It means that for each captured frame, one should be able to process it in less than 40 milliseconds.
In lane departure warning system, developed by KPIT, an onward looking camera is mounted on the dashboard. The captured video is sent to the NEC IMPACAR platform. Each frame of the video is processed to identify lane markings on the road. Once the computer identifies lanes, it draws colored marking on the image. In addition, it also predicts where the next lane marking is going to come. The system works even if the lines are broken, or there are dark patches on the road. It is immune to glare on the road or presence of pedestrian crossings.
Once the lane markings are identified, the next step is to provide a warning in case of unintentional lane departure. Thus, when the driver has not given a lane change signal, and is tending to go out of the lane, a warning is displayed on the monitor well in advance of the actual lane departure.
What service do you provide to the automation sector? Do you expect any paradigm shift in the automation industry, and why?
Our primary services to this sector are in embedded systems development for control systems and other applications and also Mechanical engineering design services. Besides this we also service the CIO needs in IT applications implementation, support and maintenance services and also KPO services for the Finance and HR functions.
Please brief us about your contribution to the semi-conductor sector?
KPIT Cummins is actively involved in end-to-end design activities, ranging from silicon to application design. We are in the best position to bring in operational efficiencies and best practices to co-innovate with the hi-tech industry, thus helping them in bringing their products faster to the market –- especially the low cost/high volume emerging markets, design process and architecture optimization, improved design efficiencies and co-innovation through development of joint and contract intellectual properties.