Industry leaders believe that digitalisation will have a profound impact on their businesses, and their organisations have started shifting towards the new norm
Businesses instinctively strive to improve efficiency in their processes, quality, and customer satisfaction at lower costs. To meet this objective, many organisations around the world are embracing the new tool – digitalisation.
But what is digitalisation?
As the revered global research and advisory firm Gartner Inc articulates, “Digitalisation is the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.”
The drive for digitalisation is more pronounced now than ever before in the domestic building products and home improvement (BPHI) industry. While there’s a buzz that the digital journey has begun in earnest, a handful of leaders explain why and how they are going about it.
REHAU India is the leader in the edge band segment and a polymer-based building solutions specialist. It has developed ‘#edge is digital’, a cloud-based service for its furniture manufacturing clients, to help them manage their inventories of edge band and panel boards.
“In the entire furniture production process, logistics and production planning often take a lot of time. But storage, stock management and machine set-up are considerably more time-consuming. We believe that in the modern business context, sustainability and digitalisation are inseparable. The #edge is digital service is our support to the furniture industry, and our way towards digitalisation,” says the company’s chairman for South Asia, Ajay Khurana.
Khurana avers that through #edge is digital, both, target data and actual data can be provided ‘on the tag’ or via the cloud. As an “innovative” service, the company’s initiative represents a “huge” step towards Smart Factory. “In today’s fast-moving world and highly competitive environment, digitalisation is the key to delivering more value to customers, apart from achieving sustainable growth. Digitalisation also helps us in gaining a strong competitive edge. Hence digitalisation is vital to achieving leadership in the industry.”
C K Birla Group-owned building material solutions provider HIL Ltd has embraced the connected shop floor in its Chennai plant. The factory has a capacity of 1.98 lakh CuM, to manufacturer block and block-jointing mortar. As the first step towards digitalisation, HIL has implemented the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to connect all machines to a single network to enhance production efficiency. IIoT refers to interconnected sensors, instruments, and other devices networked with the computer’s industrial applications, including manufacturing and energy management.
HIL is betting that digitalisation will bring traceability, reduction of defects, and improvement of asset efficiencies to its plant. Besides, the company is introducing other disruptive technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Predictive Analytics to bring in more efficiency.
“Our strategy is to leverage digitalisation and Industry 4.0 to augment our factories’ ability to deliver quality products and to manufacture products of varying customer requirements in a timely manner.
We believe that a connected factory is a strong start, and will significantly improve the production process by enabling end-to-end product visibility. Further, predictive analytics will aid decision-making and promote responsiveness at our Chennai plant,” says the company’s CEO & managing director Dhirup Roy Choudhary.
Industry 4.0 is considered the newest phase in the Industrial Revolution that focuses on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data.
Roy Choudhary adds that real-time machine parameters are being captured through digital logbooks, sensors, Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems.
Plant-level dashboards, he further adds, have been created to monitor and review critical parameters. The entire digital platform generates instant alerts, which can be leveraged by the operations team for prompt corrective actions.
The current phase of industry 4.0, HIL’s CIO Murali Raj G R elaborates, helps digitise data, trigger alerts, and monitor and provide detailed insights. “The next step would be to generate predictive insights by leveraging data from the current phase, and eventually generate prescriptive insights, which would focus on finding the best course of action in a given scenario.”
Building glass giant Asahi India Glass Ltd (AIS) has launched an Augmented Reality (AR) app, a first-of-its-kind for the glass industry. The ‘AIS World of Glass’ app helps users visualise the doors and windows of their homes on their mobile devices.
“Through this mobile app you can explore your space, select the window frames, frame colour, glass, and hardware of your choice, and visualise the entire space. The app also has a feature that will help in experiencing an acoustic solution. It also shows the energy-efficiency which helps you chose the perfect doors and windows for your space,” says the company’s COO Vikram Khanna.
For plywood and laminate major Century Plyboard (India) Ltd, digitalisation is prominently being pursued on the marketing side. “As customers’ get involved in multiple tasks and their travel time increases, they will always be online. If earlier the principle was 360-degree marketing, the new norm would be 365-day marketing,” says the company’s executive director Nikita Bansal, as she justifies the imperative for digitalisation.
Century’s initiatives on this front span e-commerce, digital communication, geo-location and fencing in sales, digital content, and customer experience. In 2018 the company had launched a film for the digital platform, which generated over six million views and was judged as one of the 50 most impactful branding campaigns of the year.