As countries around the world strive for development, they continue to focus on industries that will help them scale growth through enhanced exports and increased employment for its labor force. Manufacturing is among the many industries responsible for a country’s economic growth. In the April-June quarter of 2019-20, India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth slumped to over a six-year low of 5 percent compared to 8 percent last year. The reason was a sharp deceleration in its manufacturing output.
In recent times, the manufacturing sector is undergoing a transition, wherein there is a need for creating more and better with less. Businesses around the world are evolving and are adapting to advanced technologies in Industry 4.0.
When an industry sets on a journey to embrace new paradigms, it is bound to face challenges. In case of manufacturing, these generally involve economic pressure, customers demanding customization of products, and traditional forms of manufacturing. Customized products are in demand now more than ever and help one connect at a personal level with the consumer. Traditional methods of manufacturing hinder the path toward taking advantage of opportunities in a competitive global marketplace.
In an effort to gain competitive differentiation as well as optimize the manufacturing process, companies have to deploy advanced technologies such as smart robots, human-robot collaboration, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, production simulation, immersive training, integration of the value chain, and decentralization and production steering. In other words, the challenge is to adopt advanced manufacturing which integrates new technologies and techniques, and elevates the process of design and manufacturing to create products, which are highly differentiated, cost-effective and competitive.
Role of Design
Experts say that by 2023, the competitive advantage of business in all industries will be driven primarily by innovations developed in artificial intelligence (AI). Industry 4.0 will allow for new ways to design organizations to operate and also transform the way we work. From real estate to automobile, most sectors are highly focused on designing the best-in-class products, which becomes the enabler of efficient manufacturing. Given the pace of advancement in manufacturing what helps make better designs are options such as automation and generative design. Even developing countries like India are transitioning from traditional manufacturing to push button methods with the help of design technologies and tools. It gives businesses the power to create most ambitious ideas, collaborate more efficiently, automate the busywork and explore more design options than ever before.
As we transition to explore the nuances of the digital phase, we are witnessing several practical implementations of Industry 4.0, especially in the automotive industry. Tech-enabled or ‘connected cars’ are the new reality. Generative design tools help auto companies to confidently take a smart approach toward concept design. In this process, manufacturing is considered early in the design stage, so you can get to market faster, thereby offering several benefits including lightweighting, performance improvements, part consolidation and sustainability. Lightweighting, enabled by generative design, can help automobile manufacturers to develop energy efficient vehicles. A 10 percent weight reduction in a vehicle typically leads to a 6 to 7 percent increase in fuel economy according to the Automotive Lightweighting report by Autodesk. For example, Airbus has reimagined multiple structural aircraft components, applying generative design to develop lighter-weight parts that exceed performance and safety standards. Lightning Motorcycle Corp. leveraged the next generation electric superbikes which were faster than traditional superbikes powered by combustion engines with the help of generative design.
Furthermore, the advancement of design technologies has led to productivity improvement. With shortened design cycles, streamlined manufacturing processes, and product introductions in the market, businesses are now getting a chance to improve the flow of product design information and communication. Faster time-to-market and higher quality products certainly translate into increased revenue, while reducing design costs provide larger profit margins.
Future is Digital
There is no denying the fact that the digital factory is shaping the future of manufacturing. Smart factories of the future are going to be digitized and intelligent, and in no time, we could see the rise of cobots on factory floors, cloud-based collaborative tools, additive manufacturing and mass customization gaining ground. On their part, Indian companies are already seeing a growing convergence between digital and traditional manufacturing, and are adopting AI, cloud, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT) to make production faster, cheaper, efficient and sustainable. Here, new age technology revolves around generative design, which has catalyzed a paradigm shift in product development, thereby opening doors to unlimited design options. With rapid advancements in technological breakthroughs, experts opine that these trends will continue, promising a massive impact. Their combined unlocked potential will help accelerate the manufacturing sector’s digital transformation.
Indian companies are already adopting AI, cloud, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT) to make production faster, cheaper, efficient and sustainable.