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Achieving Digital Transformation

By kruti bharadva,

Added 26 April 2021

As India moves towards becoming a global manufacturing hub, it is essential for industries to transform themselves using industry 4.0 solutions, digitization and IoT solutions. Sudheesh Narayanan, Founder and CEO, Knowledge Lens, talks about why these solutions are vital to India


Can you briefly tell us about Knowledge Lens and the products it offers to the manufacturing sector in India?

 Knowledge Lens is a digital acceleration product company delivering measurable business value to clients through actionable business insights by leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industrial IoT & Big Data Analytics. Without any external funding, Knowledge Lens is in its eighth successful year and we have been focused on accelerating the business transformation for 3000+ customers worldwide, including several Fortune 500 companies in the US.

 We have successfully transformed companies into smart enterprises by implementing Next Generation Enterprise and Manufacturing Data Lakes, AI Powered Intelligent Apps, Industry 4.0 solutions and Sustainability Cloud for Enterprises. In addition, our strong partnerships with industry leaders such as Microsoft, Intel, Databricks, and Informatica has accelerated digital transformation for many of our customers.

 Key products and offerings:

Our Industrial IoT solution, “iLens” helps in shop floor digitization with capabilities like seamless connectivity with Industrial assets, Edge Analytics, Asset Efficiency, Predictive Maintenance, Quality Enhancements using AI and Vision Analytics, and Digital Logbooks. iLens is currently powering automation, manufacturing, energy and utility companies. iLens provides early warning alerts on machine downtimes and thus helps save millions of dollars for the manufacturer by eliminating downtime and enabling more of a controlled downtime. Our Vision Analytics solution has been effective in bringing in accuracy in Quality Control, thus enriching our customers’ product quality and eliminating wastage. Our efficiency monitoring app provides proactive alerts on any potential efficiency drops and thus providing early warnings to the operators.

Our Sustainability Cloud focused offering “GLens” provides Real-time Environment and Energy Data Acquisition, Monitoring, Analytics, and Climate Change Accounting. The platform is currently live in 3000+ industries in India across industry segments such as Oil & Gas Refinery, Cements, Pulp & Paper, Fertilizers, Power, Sugar, Manufacturing, and Agriculture.  It provides a simplified view for our customers to meet Climate Accounting, Environmental Compliance, and Regulatory needs. It enables customers to connect various makers of OEM (Original equipment manufacturer) products and assets in a single window and perform compliance monitoring and climate accounting. By leveraging AI, we have been able to provide early warning indicators, forecasting and predictive analytics to our customers. This has helped them to take proactive steps to reduce the carbon footprints and also control their environment pollution and thus avoid penalty from the regulators.

 Our Enterprise Data Migration offering “MLens” provides a very unique value to our customers who are looking for cloud migration where they can perform a cloud assessment in less than a day’s time. MLens quickly enables both data and workload migration to accelerate the cloud migration journey for our customers. MLens has been delivering value to customer by 75% reduction in the cloud migration efforts and reducing migration time by a factor of 10x.

 We are an ISO 9001, ISO 27001, CMMI, MCERTS certified company and have been recognized by CIO Insider, NASSCOM and CIO Review for our excellence.

 What are the key differentiators that make Knowledge Lens stand out in the market?

 Our key differentiator is our customer focused approach towards solving their business problems by leveraging technology solutions. The focus of our products is derived from a business outcome perspective and every feature is built considering the priority of our customers. This approach has helped us to evolve the product as per the needs of our customer and thus has created relevance of the product/solution in the marketplace. One key factor that stands out for us is that majority of our business comes from the existing customer referrals and thus demonstrates our strong customer focus.

 How has Knowledge Lens accelerated the digital transformation needs of manufacturers over the past 7-8 years. Please elaborate with some examples.

 We are serving large manufactures across the globe in various verticals including Fertilizers, Textiles and Dyeing, Flooring, Electronics, Cement and Oil and Gas etc. There are multiple instances of customer success stories where our solution has created significant business value and enabled digital transformation for our customer. Elaborating this point with below examples:

 Example 1: A leading Industrial Automation Company in the US leverages our solution in their shopfloor for Predictive Maintenance of their machines. This enables them to reduce their raw material wastage by 30 per cent and reduce 90 per cent of their earlier downtimes. The solution provides high accurate prediction on machine failures and proactively provides alerts to operators on the shop floor for corrective interventions before it is too late to prevent downtime.

 Example 2: For a Large chemical manufacturer, we deployed an AI Based system that identifies the deviations of the critical parameters that impact the batch yield and proactively alerts the operator intervention to correct these critical parameters before the yield gets reduced. The critical parameters are constantly monitored through the AI Based system and it self learns based on the output yield and optimize for higher yields.

 Example 3: For a leading manufacturing firm, we have incorporated a complete Digital Twin model of their manufacturing line, enabling them an AI powered solution for Remote Troubleshooting, Predictive Maintenance, and Equipment Logbook etc.

Similarly, we are working with another large manufacturer on their Digitization journey and connected worker initiatives for their entire shop floor. We also have many use cases where we have leveraged Vision Analytics to improve quality, reduce losses etc.

Please share your views on the importance of IIoT to make enterprises Industry 4.0 ready.

 The market potential and tangible business value presented by IIoT is huge. In the current times, Industry 4.0 solutions are gaining traction in the Indian market. However, there are still some apprehensions regarding its actual implementation but in the US, these solutions have proven to be effective.  In the Indian market, it is ideal for enterprises to move to Industry 4.0 in incremental steps. Enterprises that have switched to the I4.0 paradigm now reap benefits in terms of seamless integration, cost-effectiveness, operational transparency, centralized control, adaptability and flexibility.

Now, siloed systems are coming together to streamline processes, improve productivity, and reduce time-to-market.  Previously, the IT and OT domains operated in different orbits, but now there is an increasing alertness about convergence.

What are some of the challenges/ roadblocks faced by manufacturers in their journey for digital transformation?

The biggest challenge for the manufacturers is the lock-in with certain automation vendor on the shopfloor who has provided them with Industry 3.0 solutions for automation. There is a large inertia to think beyond these siloed solutions that are built on outdated technologies. The challenge is that the current manufacturing data is in “Jail” and there is a great resistance to unlock this data. The current providers are not technology ready and they has been greater reluctance adopting newer technologies that is required for the Digital Transformation.

Second challenge is the apprehension of Cyber security of the OT systems as manufacturers adopt the Industry 4.0 journey where the OT systems now gets connected to the IT Systems. There is a need to have clear security measures that are put in place to protect the OT layer. There is a need to bring awareness to the manufacturers on IT-OT security challenges and solutions.

Third important roadblock we see is in the lack of a comprehensive vision for Digitization in many of the manufacturers. Today, the focus is on siloed solution that address point solutions which are labelled as Industry 4.0 solution. Each of these solutions act in isolation and thus take the manufacturer away from the Digital Transformation journey. For example, we worked with a manufacturer who had already invested in a siloed Energy Management Solution and quickly realized that they have just created another silo that is not aligning to their business goals. Thus, there is a need for awareness in the manufacturer for the need of a Centralized Manufacturing Data Lake and the concept of Intelligent Apps that can make them agile and accelerate the business value realization compared to point solutions.

How can we make manufacturing environmentally friendly, socially inclusive and economically efficient with IIoT?

There is a growing trend in sustainability-driven innovation in the manufacturing sector and technology will play a major role in accelerating this trend. COVID-19 has put forth an opportunity for industries and companies to reinvent their products and services to meet new demands and achieve market advantages through sustainability initiatives. If utilized accurately, IIoT can play a major role in bolstering the manufacturing sector. In fact, IIoT can have a tangible benefit to sustainability. Organizations must invest time to understand how efficiently IIoT can be deployed to lower the use of their resources. One major barrier with organizations is the lack of knowledge on how to deploy IIoT/ what to do with the technology. Therefore understanding the technology first will enable us to design sustainable strategies for the long run.

Another important aspect to make manufacturing socially inclusive is via industry-academia partnership. This will generate a demand for innovation. Most manufacturing players have a good understanding of various systems and processes that need to be followed in their sectors, however, collaboration between industry and academia will bring the best of both worlds to an open platform.

Encouraging vocational education and training programs in partnership with educational institutes will ensure a continuous supply of highly qualified talent. This will also enable the students who could be prospect employees to prepare for a career in the manufacturing sector by gaining a deeper understanding of the technologies used in smart manufacturing. With digital disruption, it is vital for all industries including manufacturing to reinvent existing processes to survive and stay ahead in the innovation game.  Hence, the right kind of partnership will help.

How can smart factories help India become a global manufacturing hub?

 To become a global manufacturing hub, there is a need to be able to produce at scale in a cost-efficient manner with high quality. So essentially there are 3 pillars to achieve this:

  1. Reduce human dependency in the manufacturing process to the maximum and make it automated so that it can scale
  2. Product Quality control has be looked at beyond the traditional methods and AI interventions in Quality enrichment is the key requirements
  3. Reduction in overall cost includes reducing wastage, automation, reducing downtime, proactive maintenance etc.

 To enable these three pillars, adopting Smart Factory construct is critical. Digital Transformation is required on the shop floor to reduce human dependency, reduce cost, enhance quality and operate the plant efficiently. Leveraging technology driven interventions to create an agile manufacturing is the need of the hour.  

 Once the factories adopt the Smart Factory construct, the scaling operations become simple and the dream to be global manufacturing hub can be easily achieved.

 Can emerging technologies like IoT and AI fast track the ‘Make in India’ initiative by the Government?

 Technology interventions through AI and IoT are the key pillars that can drive a cost effective, high quality, scalable manufacturing operations. To realize the full potential and benefits of “Make in India”, there is a need for manufactures to adopt the latest technology advancements to drive the digital growth. I believe that Digital Transformation is the only way any manufacturer could sustain profitable operations thereby making “Make in India” successful.



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