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Sustainable Manufacturing to drive competitiveness
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Sustainable Manufacturing to drive competitiveness

June 9, 2023 3:01 pm

Driving sustainable manufacturing in the Indian machine tool industry is shaping growth opportunities. As the industry expands, localised sourcing and adoption of advanced technologies become crucial. However, challenges like cost implications and knowledge gaps need to be addressed for successful transformation.

The machine tool industry holds immense potential in the coming years. The key is to proactively understand customers’ present and future needs to provide exceptional solutions that adhere to high standards of reliability, accuracy, and sustainability.
Sustainable manufacturing involves:

  • Developing products or services with minimal environmental impact.
  • Preserving natural resources.
  • Bringing about social and economic benefits.

Manufacturers must balance sustainability objectives and other operational priorities, including cost-efficiency, quality, and productivity. This entails strategic planning and the integration of sustainable practices into the overall business strategy.

As per the IMARC research study, the Indian machine tools market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.4 percent five years consecutively from this year. According to Vijaykrishnan Venkatesan, Managing Director, Kennametal India Limited, “This growth will be driven by the increasing economic growth of the country and investment in strategic sectors to develop local manufacturing capabilities.” To foster innovation, research, and sustainable manufacturing in the machine tool industry, it is advisable to leverage advanced capabilities like AI tools for gathering, refining, and analysing comprehensive demographic data.

Localised consumption and competitive improvement
Implementing a localised sourcing approach can bring multiple advantages to adopting ecofriendly practices in machine tool manufacturing. It facilitates the transition by reducing the carbon footprint through collaborative efforts to embrace sustainable manufacturing methods. Additionally, it promotes the growth of the local economy by supporting indigenous businesses and suppliers while providing increased flexibility and responsiveness to market demands and changes. Rajesh Nath, Managing Director of VDMA India, also emphasises the importance of incorporating energy-efficient technologies, waste reduction initiatives, and renewable energy sources into the sustainability strategy of machine tool manufacturing.

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It is advisable to leverage advanced AI tools for compiling data. This data can be further enriched by harnessing the industry’s extensive expertise. The national machine tool apex body can lead in this endeavour, developing next-generation machine tools that offer enhanced productivity and efficiency to consumers in the region, as recommended by Vineet Seth, Managing Director – South Asia & Middle East, Mastercam APAC.

With growth witnessed in various sectors in India, there are extensive opportunities for machine tool builders to expand their offerings. This includes catering to micromachining needs in areas such as medical, electronics, and semiconductors, as well as addressing heavy-duty machining requirements for the manufacturing of transportation and off-highway equipment. Simultaneously, it is crucial to enhance further the adoption of the IoT, which enables the integration of automation and manufacturing through technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, as stated by Vijaykrishnan. Implementing Industry 4.0, AI, and automation brings about technological advancements that empower businesses to provide superior products and services to customers while maintaining a competitive edge in the dynamic and challenging market.

Incorporating new technologies and innovations that facilitate sustainable manufacturing entails utilising advanced tools that enhance product and process efficiency, performance, and quality. This involves reducing energy and resource consumption, waste generation, emissions, and the potential risks of accidents and hazards. However, adopting these new technologies and innovations can be challenging due to the need for significant investments, infrastructure and equipment modifications, skill development and training, and adherence to regulatory requirements, as elucidated by L. Krishnan, Managing Director of TaeguTec India.

Striking a balance between economic, environmental, and social sustainability can be challenging. Initiatives aimed at sustainability often involve higher costs, reduced productivity, and lower profitability in the short term. The adoption of sustainable practices requires substantial initial investments, which can be particularly burdensome for many manufacturers, especially MSMEs, as pointed out by Vineet.

Implementing sustainable manufacturing practices necessitates focusing on two crucial aspects: technology and commitment. Vijaykrishnan emphasises the challenges in developing local infrastructure and fostering employee capabilities to implement established sustainable practices such as carbide recycling, eco-friendly packaging, and green logistics. The implementation of sustainable manufacturing practices in the Indian context presents a range of challenges influenced by various factors.

Challenges to implementing sustainable manufacturing practices
There is a need to address the challenges of transforming and modernising Indian manufacturing facilities. The specific challenges faced by the manufacturing sector when adopting sustainable practices can vary based on industry, geographic location, and company size, as explained by Rajesh Nath. Primarily, there are cost implications associated with implementing sustainable manufacturing practices, as it often necessitates upfront investments in new technologies, equipment, and processes. Additionally, many manufacturers require greater knowledge and understanding of sustainable manufacturing practices and access to resources that aid in identifying and implementing environmentally friendly technologies and processes.

Other challenges include limitations in infrastructure, promoting technology adoption and awareness, regulatory frameworks, managing change and cultural shifts, considering sustainability and environmental factors, and ensuring integration and interoperability. Furthermore, modernising manufacturing facilities necessitates a skilled workforce capable of operating and maintaining advanced technologies.

Effectively addressing these challenges requires a collaborative effort involving government bodies, industry associations, educational institutions, financial institutions, and other stakeholders. By acknowledging these challenges and working together to overcome them, Indian manufacturing facilities can successfully embrace modernisation and maintain competitiveness in the global market.

Yet another challenge is manufacturing complex parts. The utilisation of 3D printing presents numerous advantages in manufacturing complex equipment parts. While 3D printing is commonly used for producing metal parts, it is also gaining traction among local machine tool makers developing 3D metal printers in India.

Equipment part manufacturing
Recently, manufacturing organisations constantly embrace technologies like 3D printing, hybrid manufacturing, augmented reality, and AI/ML to enhance process intelligence. These technological adoptions have empowered manufacturers to produce high-quality parts with improved precision and efficiency, boosting competitiveness.

This 3D printing advancement could lead to faster production of maintenance, repair, and operations spares and integration into the original equipment manufacturer supply chain. The applications of 3D printing are expanding beyond the aerospace industry to sectors such as medical implants, general engineering, and specific automotive areas.

Prominent examples include a notable business that reduced manufacturing time by 50 percent for a nuclear power plant component using 3D printing. Additionally, the continuous real-time monitoring of electronic sensors connected to the cloud has enhanced reliability. Consequently, optimised performance has resulted in substantial cost savings and improved customer safety, ultimately enhancing the overall competitiveness of the manufacturing sector.

Adopting 3D printing, AR and AI technologies in manufacturing complex equipment parts can bring significant benefits to the Indian manufacturing sector. It enables the production of intricate and customised parts with reduced lead times and costs. Moreover, 3D printing can support local manufacturing of complex equipment parts, reducing import dependence. This localisation contributes to decreased supply chain dependencies, increased production flexibility, and support for just-in-time manufacturing.

Collaborations
Implementing sustainable manufacturing practices relies on collaboration and coordination with various stakeholders across the value chain, including suppliers, customers, regulators, employees, and communities. Managing relationships with these stakeholders transparently and efficiently is crucial while ensuring the quality, traceability, and security of products and processes, as highlighted by L. Krishna. Additionally, establishing partnerships with technology companies and industry associations can provide manufacturers with comprehensive solutions, knowledge, and consulting services, according to Vineeth.

Implementing sustainable green manufacturing technologies and practices involves initial upfront costs. Several strategies are available to achieve financial viability while embracing sustainability in the manufacturing sector. Manufacturers can prioritise financial viability by continuously assessing and implementing new solutions that align with their sustainability goals.

Embracing sustainability in manufacturing can lead to long-term cost savings, improved operational efficiency, an enhanced brand reputation, and a reduced environmental impact. These outcomes ultimately contribute to a stronger bottom line for manufacturers.

Move with intent
Implementing energy-efficient technologies and practices throughout the manufacturing process is essential to achieve sustainable practice goals. Being an environmentally responsible company and embracing sustainable manufacturing practices can provide a competitive advantage. Attracting and retaining skilled talent is crucial for driving innovation and maintaining competitiveness. Machine tool manufacturers can invest in recruiting and developing a skilled workforce, offer training programs, and cultivate a continuous learning and improvement culture.

Adopting Industry 4.0 practices such as IoT, AI, robotics, and automation optimises manufacturing processes, enhances quality and reliability, and reduces environmental impact. While there may already be ongoing initiatives in this area, a concentrated effort will significantly amplify the competitive edge of local machine tool manufacturers.

This includes utilising energy-efficient machinery, optimising equipment settings, implementing smart control systems, and conducting energy audits to identify areas for improvement. Rajesh emphasises waste reduction strategies, such as applying lean manufacturing principles, optimising processes, and promoting material efficiency, all of which contribute to reducing environmental impact. It is crucial for companies to continuously assess and adapt, keeping up with emerging technologies and practices in sustainable manufacturing.

Implementing sustainable manufacturing practices involves reducing environmental impact and enhancing the social benefits of products and processes to foster competition. Vijaykrishnan concludes that leaders must foster a cultural shift within organisations towards environmental consciousness to drive faster adoption and remain relevant.

“Machine tool manufacturers can invest in research and development to improve product performance, efficiency, accuracy and functionality.”
Rajesh Nath, Managing Director, VDMA India.

“3D printing technologies lead to optimised performance, resulting in significant cost savings and improved customer safety.”
Vineet Seth, Managing Director – South Asia & Middle East, Mastercam APAC.

“Organisations must tailor their initiatives and plans based on their specific goals, industry requirements,
and available resources.”
Tushar Tambat, Director, Nakashi CNC.

“We are committed to continuous improvement and innovation and look forward to exploring new opportunities and possibilities leveraging technology for further growth.”
L. Krishnan, Managing Director, TaeguTec India.

“With India witnessing broad-based growth across varied sectors, there is immense opportunity for machine tool builders to diversify their portfolios.”
Vijaykrishnan Venkatesan, Managing Director, Kennametal India Limited.

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