The increasing infusion of digital technologies into everyday electronic devices has slowly pushed the electronics sector over into the realm of hi-tech manufacturing. And the operating environment in hi-tech manufacturing is distinctly different from that of the traditional electronics sector. One, hi-tech manufacturing requires a lean, agile, and smart production environment that can quickly adapt to the rapid pace of innovation in technologies and materials.
Two, there has to be a supporting ecosystem of hi-tech components and R&D competencies. Three, a highly skilled labor market is a critical driver of hi-tech smart manufacturing success. Four, there has to be a streamlined administrative and logistics infrastructure. And five, hi-tech requires a sustaining and competitive framework of regulations and policies that foster investments and innovation.
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The Deloitte study did a deep dive into six focus countries – the United States, Germany, Japan, South Korea, China, and India – to understand how they stacked up on the aforementioned performance drivers, among others. India ranked fifth in terms of talent and sixth when it came to supplier ecosystem, R&D spends, innovation policy, regulatory environment, and physical infrastructure.
Most of these factors are driven by policy and there seems to be some progress on some fronts lately. The government’s Make in India and Digital India programs and schemes like the Electronic Development Fund are bringing the focus back on streamlining policies and regulations in the sector. Investments in electronics manufacturing increased nearly 12 times between 2017 and 2021.
Macro factors will eventually have to be sorted out by policy. Meanwhile, the industry will have to focus on building a smart, truly connected, and integrated manufacturing base that will allow it to compete in the extremely aggressive, high quality, low tolerance hi-tech electronics market. The emphasis has to be on creating a next-generation manufacturing model aligned with the smart manufacturing principles of Industry 4.0 to create an intelligent, agile, and lean manufacturing value chain.
Smart manufacturing is an integrated model of highly digitized and connected factories and analytically intelligent value chains. Technologies like automation and sensors have long been an integral part of the shop floor. Smart manufacturing will leverage the power of IoT to expand and multiply the potential of sensors and automation. The IoT will create a network of cyber-physical assets integrated with all business systems, processes, and functions across the entire manufacturing supply and value chain.
Real-time visibility into the performance of shop floor assets allows manufacturers tighter control over operational efficiency, asset productivity, quality control, and safety. Predictive analytics tools powered by advanced big data technologies will enhance decision-making by delivering powerful insights for more accurate and timely process optimization across procurement, production, and maintenance. Managers will have real-time, anytime-anywhere access to all these production insights and decision-making tools delivered via a mobile interface.
A smart supply chain is a critical part of the Industry 4.0 manufacturing model. An intelligent end-to-end supply chain integrates all business processes and functions, all suppliers and partners, and all manufacturing sites and markets. It enables real-time visibility into all key enterprise processes and provides the analytical tools required to optimize supply chain performance and to accelerate and enhance enterprise decision-making.
Emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles and 3D printing are already transforming components – raw material/component movement and last-mile connectivity in this case, respectively – of the traditional supply chain. With advances in artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine learning, and analytics, supply chains will soon be able to identify and respond autonomously to more complex performance triggers across the entire manufacturing value chain.
Industry 4.0 is a focal theme of the Make in India program mentioned earlier. German auto component major Bosch has announced that it’s implementing smart manufacturing at all its Indian centers as part of its global strategy to be Industry 4.0 compliant by 2018. GE has opened its first “brilliant factory” – the company’s take on smart manufacturing – at Pune, India with the capability to manufacture different products for diverse businesses. In the electronics space, there have been several announcements from big brands like Lenovo, HTC, Siemens, Apple-supplier Foxconn, and domestic smartphone brand Micromax, among others, to establish local manufacturing facilities.
The global electronics industry, the largest and fastest-growing industry in the world, is valued at USD 1.75 trillion of which India currently has a 1.5 percent share. Smart manufacturing will enable the sector to tap into a lucrative but competitive electronics market, both in the country and overseas.