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Working towards a smooth Technology Adoption

Deploying Technology is not an easy process. Even though you might theoretically be aware of all the ways deploying a particular technology will add value to your business, there are a lot of challenges that need to be overcome for the transition to take place.

Q. How has Technology helped you transform your business when the working environment across your manufacturing units at multiple locations is different?

Technology has added value to our entire setup. A couple of years back we were only using the core ERP or the basic BI tools. In 2019, we see technologies like Blockchain, RPA, AI, etc. They are proliferating at the shop floor itself. Last year we did a pilot with a leading consulting organisation, which was built around creating a digital twin, which was modelling a part of the plant digitally. So that through regression and correlation equations we can actually predict what can go wrong.

In terms of efficiency in operations, we have re-done a Performance Management System, which was earlier completely manual. Now we have automated it completely. Now the filling of appraisal forms and reviews doesn’t take much time. Whereas earlier the compilation itself took months sometimes. With this our cycle time has gone down and it has increased productivity.

But certainly from a process standpoint, one, it brings in that degree of control. Second, it brings in a degree of transparency. And most importantly, it also brings a single version of growth across all systems. So that’s something that is important.

Q. What is the level of automation in your company when it comes to operations across the shop floor and what is the human involvement in the shopfloor?

There are three critical aspects in Shopfloor Management which are important – Production Management, Quality Management and Inventory Management. From the Production Management standpoint, we have the state-of-the-art of TCS and Scada systems across all our plants, so that’s something which is an advantage to us because the plants are largely and fairly automated. However, when talking about inventory management, we have started our journey. Like in one of our plants we have created compete bar code based track and trace system. In the other system, we are setting up a complete state-of-the-art warehouse. That’s something which is under the ordering right now. Maybe the next six months that should take shape as well. On Quality, we have still to start our journey because that’s something which is exclusively being done through the standalone Quality management equipment which is there in the laboratories, but we are still to connect it to a central system. But that’s the roadmap.

Q. What are the unique challenges faced by your team when it comes to adding value to the business?

No two or three companies or locations within the company are alike, likewise within an enterprise, not everybody would align to the same goal. So, Change Management becomes a big challenge.

And then you have to also see that a process which has been running for maybe 10-15 years, you can’t just redo it only because the technology is available to do it in a new way. It doesn’t really help because on the ground you may have people who historically align to doing things in a particular way and making them change and, or to think differently, becomes a big challenge. Sometimes you will find within enterprise also, multiple departments would be at a different rate of adoption. So, you have to factor that role. Maybe one department is more passionate or more in tuned to adopt new age technologies. There will be some other who may be reluctant or even sometimes resistant to adopt the new initiative.

Another area internal to our Technology team and Transformation team is the degree and the speed at which changes are happening in the last few years. It is overwhelming.

You have to figure out your challenges and what issues you are facing. And in some cases you have to actually educate the domain heads that this is the technology which is available and get into a dialogue about what problems can this technology solve. Earlier there was a notion that you have a business problem and you have to try to solve the problem using technology. Now with the current state, especially with technologies like RPA, companies and domain heads could not even imagine what an RPA can do. So in such cases you have to actually sit with them and create an immersive experience that this is the technology, these are the solutions or prospective issues it can handle, so that they can then think through and conceptualize use cases within the enterprise.

And you cannot just do it all alone. You have to partner with your domain heads and other business heads. The discussions with the CXOs, Marketing heads, Procurement head, R&D head, that engagement has to happen because only then you will be able to use technology in the most effective fashion.

I think one other aspect which is important is the Skill set from the enterprise standpoint and also from the partner’s standpoint. The CIOs and partner companies talk about these new age technologies in forums and panel discussions. But when you actually start working on it, you will find there are very few companies and individuals who have done real work on the ground. So, that’s one reality.

Another is from a skill set within the enterprise, so as much as we may try to emulate a Facebook or an Apple or a Netflix or a Google, thinking that these companies have done so much using technology. That if I do this the Google way, I might be the best, but that doesn’t work. Because you will have to start with your own set up. Where are you today? What are the opportunities? How do you prioritize your various challenges and opportunities you have? Because you also would have limited bandwidth, both in terms of skillset and the budgets as well. So, I think from a challenge standpoint internally, what I see is that the skills to actually drive these technologies is also critical. And then you have to also figure out from a security aspect, how secure the solutions from these technologies can be.

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