manufacturing sector

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the manufacturing sector in India

Anbu V, director general and CEO of Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers’ Association (IMTMA) and Bangalore International Exhibition Center (BIEC) talks to Dataquest about the future of the manufacturing sector in India.

DQ: How Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the manufacturing sector in India?

Anbu V: The manufacturing industry in India has overcome all the challenges posed by the pandemic through digitalization of its operations wherever possible, garnering government attention to its long-standing woes and adopting and deploying technologies in stages besides judiciously utilizing the funds at its disposal. As a result, we saw a quicker rebound from the after effects of the pandemic. The country’s manufacturing PMI expanded for a fourth consecutive month, rising to 55.9 in October with services PMI jumping to 58.4 as against 55.2 in September, the fastest rise in 10 years, according to IHS Markit Survey. We expect the manufacturing industry to operate in full flow in the coming quarters. The country has set an ambitious target of $ 400 billion merchandise exports in 2021-2022, something which is achievable when government and industry associations work together. Turnover of the capital goods industry is expected to reach around $ 115 billion by 2025, according to government estimates. With the aim to boost the manufacturing sector, the Government has relaxed the excise duties on factory gate tax, capital goods, consumer durables and vehicles.

DQ: What is the current scenario of the manufacturing hubs in India?

Anbu V: India’s manufacturing sector has over the years transformed into one of the high growth areas with significant value transformation through domestic penetration, creation of export opportunities and presenting itself as a destination of choice for international companies. The manufacturing sector’s GVA at current prices was estimated to be US$ 348.53 billion as per second advanced estimates of FY21. Many global companies have either set up or are in the process of setting up manufacturing units in India, attracted by the market potentials.  Government of India has approved Production Linked Incentive (PLI schemes) across various industry sectors such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, telecom, automobiles and auto components, advance chemistry cell, textiles, and so on to create national manufacturing champions and generate employment opportunities. Moving forward there is a need for creating catalyst drivers which will underpin the next phase of growth in manufacturing. This will bring manufacturing induced growth to our economy. Overall scenario is positive and northbound.

DQ: What are some of the latest technological trends in manufacturing?

Anbu V:

  • To stay competitive manufacturers have to serve their customers with more agility and flexibility besides hiring the right talent. 
  • Work from home has picked up and is continuing as a hybrid option.
  • Digitalisation has gained ground with the entire ecosystem of manufacturing involving parts tracking, inventory management, logistics management, customer support – remote installation, monitoring, diagnostics and service being accepted and growing. 
  • Operation, external and internal communication, shopfloor operation, machine maintenance tracking, meetings, discussions, training (anytime, anywhere, cost effective)
  • Usage of virtual conferences, webinars and related social media has increased substantially and has found acceptance for meetings, discussions, holding seminars, exhibitions and conferences, both for internal and external communication.
  • From the latter half of 2020 what we are witnessing is that companies are making swift moves towards Industry 4.0 and automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices. 
  • Shopfloor automation is gaining traction in terms of sensorising devices, capturing, monitoring and analysing data for enhanced productivity.
  • Sensors and data capturing is being deployed Early warning of machine failures for need based maintenance instead of periodic maintenance
  • Usage of robots, collaborative robots for various applications for enhancing productivity, safety and quality is being considered seriously by industries
  • Thrust on data capturing and data mining for taking data centric management decision is transforming industries.
  • Companies will also be looking to create a comprehensive and workable information technology ecosystem that would be flexible, scalable and adaptable to all its relevant requirements. Firms are already tuned towards operating effectively with use of Artificial Intelligence from product to plant to end user. Human-centred artificial intelligence is gaining popularity and moreover we are seeing an increased investment in industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to help companies become more competitive in the global manufacturing landscape.

DQ: Kindly highlight the importance of reskilling in the era of digital manufacturing.

Anbu V: Both upskilling and reskilling are vital for the growth of the individual as well as the advancement of the company in the marketplace. The world is very likely to move towards a post-pandemic boom with economies likely to grow at faster rates and in light of this gaining new skills will put individuals and companies in better positions. Pandemic onslaught has hastened the process of digitalisation and new job roles are being created which were in vogue perhaps a few years ago. App developers, cloud computing specialists, social media managers are in demand. Digitalization is creating demand for new skills especially in complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, judgment and decision making, cognitive flexibility, etc.

Many learning modules which are digital centric have become affordable, reputed academic institutions are offering courses for learning new age technologies. Virtual conferences, webinars, cloud based learning is changing the training landscape. Industry is looking at skilled workers in new age technologies for handling automated shopfloor, IT centric operation, data analytics, etc. For industries it is more of a survival and essential trained manpower for operating and managing all facets of manufacturing – shopfloor, finance, HRD, customers, suppliers, daily management etc.

DQ: How pervasive is smart manufacturing in India?

Anbu V: Fusion of technology, machines and humans are happening in manufacturing industry in India and with smart factories we are moving from traditional automation to fully connected systems. Advancement towards smart manufacturing is happening in India, albeit in stages. The use of Industry 4.0 concepts is enabling components, machines, products, individuals, properties and systems to create a smart network in a complete value range. There is an increase in productivity after adopting IIoT technologies and shopfloor automation in production process. 

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