How IIT-Kharagpur’s Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing is poised to drive the change with its cross-disciplinary facilities
The fourth industrial revolution, popularly referred to as Industry 4.0, constitutes a plethora of technological concepts aiming towards the adoption of cyber-physical systems. Essentially, it involves connecting the segments of a manufacturing system with digital technologies for gaining critical and real-time insights. The technologies include the use of intelligent robots, real-time monitoring and control of manufacturing systems, cloud, edge, and fog computing, all of which will lead to the development of the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT).
At present, Industry 4.0 is at a very nascent stage, and a large number of industries are aiming to adopt Industry 4.0 to digitalise their supply chains. These would enable automated and faster means of decision making, more efficient operational processes, and better resource utilization through customization, quality checks, thus, leading to cost reduction and market competitiveness. Industry 4.0 also addresses the health and safety of the workforce by means of reduction of human intervention on the shop floor.
Industry 4.0 career avenues for industry leaders and the workforce
Engineers who are currently enamored by software, financial and consulting jobs would find the manufacturing field much more dynamic and pervasive.
Industry 4.0 would require digital knowledge and ability to work with data including automated systems, knowledge of IoT, AR/VR, machine learning, big data and analytics, cybersecurity and data protection, data analytics. In addition to this, there exists cross-disciplinary expertise arising out of the integrated system requirements.
Leadership and communication, too, will be a challenging task for Industry 4.0, as the transition would significantly demand flexibility to accommodate customer needs as well as leveraging the EQ of the workforce.
The workforce will now require trained personnel in computer numerical control, instrumentation, data mining, robotics, design, extended reality, cloud deployment, AI and ML, cybersecurity and much more.
Industry 4.0 is the bedrock of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’; it is the way forward for India Inc. Having said that, it is also true that automation will replace repetitive jobs requiring lower skills. But on the other hand, it will create jobs requiring higher skills. Upskilling is no longer an alternative but a mandate of Industry 4.0 to sustain in the technologically enhanced industrial environment towards which India’s industrial sector is already progressing.
With the Government of India targeting substantial growth of the manufacturing sector under Atma Nirbhar Bharat, the job market is expected to swell. However, in to order adopt Industry 4.0, a highly skilled workforce is the need of the hour. We would not be able to make the transition without such upskilling.
The role that the Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing can play in creating this new avenue
The upskilling of the workforce would require a robust learning and development platform equipped with cross-disciplinary technological facilities. The Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing at IIT Kharagpur has been providing this platform to various industrial houses including the capital goods sector and MSMEs.
Further, Industry 4.0 infrastructure would be capital intensive in some cases and fast-changing as far as the technological innovations are concerned. This may create a hindrance for the MSMEs to upgrade while keeping pace with the market. The Centre’s deliverables for the MSMEs are not only an R&D testbed but also to provide them with a host of upgrades in the existing infrastructure and very low-cost solutions. Further, the Centre promises to offer innovative and market-ready technologies in the respective domains which the firms can further commercialise.
Some MSME-oriented innovations at the Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing
‘Real-time weld-quality monitoring and control’ is one of the recent success stories of this Centre that has been jointly developed with TCS. The system employs cloud infrastructure for managing the multiple sensory data to derive real-time insights about a welding process and accordingly controls the welding machine by sending real-time feedback.
Another such endeavor developed is a ‘low-cost machine vision-based solution for real-time quality inspection’. This system is an accurate, robust and real-time solution for job quality inspection based on the features extracted through image processing. A major attraction is the use of a low-cost camera for the machine vision application which significantly reduces the cost. An AI algorithm is devised and incorporated in the system that enhances the image quality in real-time to compensate for the capability of the low-cost camera.
Training programmes at the Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing
Training programmes have been conducted in the past, which include CNC and Composites 4.0. Further, the CoE is also coming up with interactive training programmes on Virtual CNC classes, Robotics, AR/VR in manufacturing, and advanced welding methods.
Surjya K. Pal is Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya Chair Professor in Manufacturing at IIT Kharagpur. He is also the professor-in-charge of Centre of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing Technology; associate dean, alumni affairs and branding; and professor-in-charge, Metrology Lab & FSW Lab.
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