Role of Digitalization in Achieving Process Efficiency
Mr. Reginaldo D’Souza
AVP and Head, Sales & Marketing
Godrej Process Equipment

In this article, the author narrates the importance and how-factor of using digitalization in achieving optimum process efficiency.

In simple words, ‘Digitalization’ is about using the latest digital technologies in our day-to-day work to make it more data driven, predictable, sustainable, and more importantly – easier. These days we see a lot of examples on digitalization and how it has transformed the way organizations use data, plot trends, and enable informed decision making. It also helps in connecting all the assets seamlessly to get real-time feedback from machines in terms of performance & predicting breakdowns, and also to provide enriching customer experiences pre and post order.
In the heavy fabrication industry, digitalization is a vital tool to improve process efficiencies across all levels and functions. The key is how well one can seamlessly integrate the customer needs to organizational processes by reducing the touch points. This would ideally result into optimum efficiencies, thereby fulfilling the needs of our customers. Digitalization is ultimately about having a more agile system.
Let us look at digitalization in three broad phases.
1. Pre-Manufacturing: Design being the most crucial part of this phase, it presents a great opportunity. An example is our CREO design software, currently in the final stage of development, which would help to standardize the designs and to facilitate the generation of 3D drawings for all complex pressure vessel designs. This when fed to the shop floor, provides flexibility such as identification of complex manufacturing steps, detection of interferences, etc. It also helps to plan the sequence of operations to suit the ease of fabrication and thereby to avoid the rework. It also aids in avoiding human errors due to misinterpretation of drawings and deskilling of the design aspect to some degree. When coupled with the standardized MTO (material take off) process, it ensures the finalization of BOM (Bill of Material) for faster procurement. The digitalization of this entire process produces data in a digital form which could be used to retrieve and to link documents, project man hour costing, better estimate, and to provide a feedback loop from the shop floor. It is all about operating in real-time, and integrating the design & the manufacturing seamlessly.

2. Manufacturing: Digitalization is also about how other support functions of the business can help in building and maintaining a strong business growth. Critical assets such as machines and tools can be interlinked through sensors, RFIDs, etc to the main business process architecture delivering critical real-time information to assist in planning, resource allocation, supply chain decisions, course corrections if needed, maintaining shutdowns, and so on. It ensures that the entire business process is managed in a more structured manner leading to producing just-intime, huge reductions in inventory and working capital, and more. Industry 4.0 is a perfect step in this direction.

With regard to manufacturing processes, it’s not only moving from manual operations to automation, but also about facilitating process parameter controls that provide a high degree of efficiency, achieving the firsttime- right, and reduction of rework. For instance, the GO-DETECT feature on our semi-auto welding machines helps to detect welding defects in real-time to avoid heavy rework. Especially on critical metallurgy, it provides feedback to the controller for auto parameter corrections that would maintain the desired weld parameters. Several other data points in terms of the welder, weld parameters, time period etc which are linked directly with our ERP system, are provided making it a perfect closed loop system.

Replacing large sized physical paper drawings with digital screens on the shop floor is another example of providing flexibility and direct real time interface with design.

3. Customer Connect: Creating a meaningful and enriching customer experience is always a priority. The realtime dash boards aiding a robust internal review process of critical business pulse parameters, provide confidence to the customers about our control over the business processes. Strong data analytics facilitate informed and timely decisions. Our marketing portal is an example. The entire business development and marketing data is stored in a web- based portal which serves as a handy resource for our sales representatives to access, while on-thego. A simple click retrieves information in order to facilitate productive discussions, be it historical data on past order executions, customer data, data on metallurgy, sector-wise and processwise reports, etc.

The sales data is seamlessly integrated with estimation, procurement, thus becoming a solid tool for understanding the competitiveness, loss analysis, and in helping to create a winning formula.

In summary, Digitalization for us is all about:
  • Building predictable and sustainable processes
  • Seamlessly integrating all our business processes
  • Standardizing the processes to avoid errors
  • Reducing touch points in our value chain
  • Deskilling
  • Building an agile system enabling quick response to any change
  • Doubling our turnover with the existing manpower resource
As we embark on a challenging growth path to double our turnover in the next 3 years, tour Digitalization Road Map is one of the most pivotal success factors.