IIT Kanpur

Role of digital verification and signature in scaling Industry 4.0

While India Inc. is embarking on complete adoption of Industry 4.0 for its day-to-day regime, its implementation in the country is currently at a nascent stage, but happening at a fast pace. Large companies have been successful in applying digital industrial technologies in their businesses, while SMEs are into the testing mode to get their digital strategies right.

Many US companies are also planning to shift their manufacturing base to India from China, citing Industry 4.0 will offer them an ocean of opportunities. Additionally, it has full potential in further augmenting Digital India and Make in India – the two big channels to build new-age India, if its principles are well executed.

Improvement of productivity, flexibility, managing value chain, faster automation solutions, flexible and efficient both for discrete and process industries have added for industry 4.0 scale and growth. With the advent of 5G, the need for connected machines with a coordinated supply chain across locations and geographies becomes more important without compromising on Industrial security.

Think about machines and components needing digital identity and verification just like individuals so that they can trust each other while communicating and working together. This is also required for managing the lifecycle of the individual machines from assembly till recycling. Further, it is needed for bridging the gap in the new world of smart manufacturing operations connected with information technology.

ERP systems collect a lot of information from machines for scheduling, long term planning, predictive maintenance, etc. Hence, a unique digital ID for the machines is needed by default in the new Industry 4.0. Digital verification and signature solutions can enable the collaborative platform to bring together suppliers and logistics in terms of digital onboarding of the components and machines and also support the transportation logistics so the identity is securely managed through the transport and till installation. And this platform can be used not only by Greenfield projects but also by existing Brownfield projects.

In the new IoT space, each connected device is diverse and unique causing complexity and challenges in the way they securely communicate with each other since traditional passwords will not work. Machines or devices need to send trusted information between themselves and to their owners, suppliers and providers. There is a challenge in creating this interface between the large volumes of machines but this can be countered by using a PKI-based public and private key interface and connectivity reducing the chance of any data manipulation and reducing any hacks or attacks on the devices. Properly integrated data sharing secure platforms can provide the volume and scale needed for the data transfer and communication between machines, humans and ERP solutions.

Automation of manufacturing processes includes intelligent machines integrated with cloud, AI-based processes, CPS or cyber-physical systems, etc., requires both digitization and digitalization. Digitization includes process enablement for machine vision and communication between the machines, which is also the enablement of paperless processes for ePayments, office automation, integration of all IOT devices, e-services, e-identification and smart contracts. This involves little or no human intervention, and can go a long way in a machine line automatically getting a smart contract or digitally-signed PO to start the assembly line based on the contract.

Digital verification and digital signatures play a significant role in all of the above by having smart contracts done through an authentic platform that provides both the digital verification and signature, which are two in a box and cannot be separated. Then there is cybersecurity and secure communication between machines from different locations or from a component vendor.

Role of digitization
Digitization technology leads to the digitalization process, which transforms how businesses are run to accelerate them with better and relevant data exchange. For e.g. it could be how Government or health care moves from paper-based solutions to completely automated approval process flows or reduced human intervention based on AI/ML.

Even audits can be automated, and the auditor signs off based on the dashboard and any highlights of automated audit failures can be reviewed by the auditor. The same can be for health care where the insurance claims are approved automatically unless in special cases. The same can be applied to a plant where the final products from an assembly line are audited and passed with very minimal or no human intervention.

By Naveen Chava, CEO, IDSign

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