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Manufacturing Units Leapfrogging To Industry 4.0 Level Will Be Incentivised : Rakesh Verma

In the inaugural session of the 2nd Edition of ‘Conference On Achieving Excellence in Manufacturing – Making Industry Future Ready’ held at the CII Northern Region, Chandigarh campus on Friday, Punjab Industries & Commerce Director DPS Kharbanda, during his address, casually asked how many among the elite gathering had gone through Punjab Industrial & Business Development Policy, 2017. The response – just two, including Sachit Jain, Chairman, CII Northern Region and Vice Chairman & Managing Director of Vardhman Special Steels Limited, sitting on the dais – failed to create an expected flutter. Whether the episode was indicative of the general sense of despondency among the industrialists in the state or not, it definitely was food for thought for the state government, readying to release a final draft of a revised and futuristic policy, complete with modalities, any time next week.

State Principal Secretary, Industries, Commerce and IT Rakesh Verma, while expressing confidence that manufacturing was there to stay in Punjab, said among the most important focus areas of the revised Industrial & Business Policy will be according special treatment and providing higher incentives, like electricity duty and GST benefits, to Industry 4.0 level and hi-tech industrial units. He hoped that Punjab will lead the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, and the new industrial units to come up in the state will leapfrog to the Industry 4.0 level for increased efficiency and profitability.

Manufacturing Units Leapfrogging To Industry 4.0 Level Will Be Incentivised : Rakesh Verma, Lifeinchd Photo By : Life In Chandigarh

Verma said manufacturing has to be the mainstay of the economy as trade and services are dependent on it. A flourishing manufacturing sector will also provide much needed boost to gainful employment in the state, he said, adding that Industry 4.0 level and hi-tech industries are best suited to Punjab, a state heavily dependent for its workforce on migrants from other states.

The Industries Secretary said the state government has also decided to extend electricity duty and GST benefits for modernisation and expansion to existing industrial units at par with new industrial units. But the incentives will come with a rider that all beneficiary industrial units will have to take Zero Defect, Zero Effect (ZED) certification from the Government of India within three years. The ZED fee will also be fully compensated to the industrial units, with the state government undertaking to reimburse the remaining portion of the fee not covered by GOI under the scheme, he added.

Infrastructure Support

Turning to infrastructure required to support this level of manufacturing, Verma said the state government is conscious of the “pathetic condition” of various focal points and defunct R&D centres in the government sector, and hence the revised policy will spell out a roadmap for ramping up the infrastructure by involving the industry bodies like CII, private sector and institutions of higher learning. He said the state government is keen on offering the buildings of the defunct R&D centres to private players to run hi-tech labs and training centres on PPP model. Process has been started for hiring a consultant in this regard, he said.

The Industries Secretary informed that the state government is also in talks with the CII to strike a Technology & Innovation Alliance with a view to give fillip to industry ready R&D and encourage investment in the state.

Industry 4.0 level and hi-tech industries will also require a highly skilled workforce, for which the state government is focussing on encouraging advanced skilling courses to be started in government and private technical education institutions, he added.

DPS Kharbanda, Director of Industries and Commerce, Punjab, in his address, urged CII to share real life success stories from across the country of industrial units reaping big time benefits from infusion of modern thought and technologies to fire up the imagination of the Punjab industry, lagging behind in the modernisation race. Informing the gathering that an exclusive ZED branch has specially been opened in the department, he called upon the industry in Punjab to lap up the ZED certification scheme of the GOI to reap handsome benefits.

Referring to another highly beneficial GOI scheme for aiding setting up of Common Facility Centres (CFCs) under Micro & Small Enterprises – Cluster Development Programme (MSE-CDP), he said more and more clusters of same or similar industries should resolve to grow together and avail of 90% government contribution under the scheme. Till recently only one cluster had received GOI approval in Punjab, and two more have received the nod just two days ago. “We have recommended another case of a Phagwara cluster recently and four more cases are in the process of being sent,” he added.

Sharing the nitty-gritty of best practices in manufacturing from his vast experience in the automobile industry, MM Singh, Chairman, Regional Committee on Advanced Manufacturing, & Executive Advisor, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. said for optimising growth, which meant capturing more market, and making more money, meaning increasing  profits, owners need to follow the basics of manufacturing, which currently most are not following. “We need to look at small-small things associated with our production lines to improve efficiencies – workplace comfort of workers, maintenance of machines, meticulous organisation of tool kits, etc.,” he said.

Relating a personal experience, he said by forcefully persuading his company management to increase the comfort level of a supervisor at his workplace, his productivity increased by 80 percent. Similarly, output optimisation of machines, which on an average do not perform at more than 60-70 percent efficiencies, is equally critical and regular maintenance cannot be compromised at any cost.

Assuring that such measures can reduce manufacturing costs by 20-30 percent, he said mindsets need to change on such issues, which we tend to ignore. Giving example of his own organisation Maruti Suzuki, he said why the company is going from strength to strength is because it has the correct mindset towards manufacturing.

Coming to quality issues, Singh said 90% of the times the fault is detected at the level of a machine operator. Most times standards are either not properly understood or they are not properly enforced. To remove this anomaly, simple and accurate communication needs to percolate down to the workforce level, he added.

He said, a continuous process of upgradation of the skills of workforce is also critical to optimum results and automation, which is critical to all processes and quality issues, needs to be introduced wherever necessary to support the workforce after critically analysing every tiny issue.

Viren Popli, Conference Chairman & Chief Operating Officer, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (Swaraj Division), in his opening remarks urged the manufacturing units to keep an open mind towards infusion of digitalisation, automation and robotics in their processes. Conceding that there are several challenges before the industry, including enhanced customer expectations regarding quality and competitive pricing, he said the decision on modernisation and the costs involved, in the ultimate analysis makes or mars the prospects of an industrial unit. Referring to modernisation of the banking industry as a perfect example of this double-minded thought process being resolved in a yes for computerisation, Popli said today we say “thank God it happened” because of the phenomenal incremental gain achieved in terms of ease of doing business for banks and their customers alike.

Explaining the purpose of the conference, he said it was aimed at introducing local manufacturing SMEs to concepts and conversations that are happening in this space to enable them to make appropriate choices. “This is important because the growth of the manufacturing sector is key to the growth of the Indian economy, and thus to growth of employment opportunities.”

In his address, Sachit Jain, Chairman, CII Northern Region and Vice Chairman & Managing Director of Vardhman Special Steels Limited, felt that excellence has to flow from the mind of the owner or MD of any industrial unit or house, otherwise it does not percolate down to the workers at the grassroots level. Describing excellence as not so much about automation and robotics as of a mindset, he said another aspect of it was putting in place a systematic method of continuous improvement. He gave a personal example of achieving 80 percent reduction in breakage of yarn in his textile business by just creating charts and graphs and carefully analysing the data on the advice of their Japanese collaborators.

Observing that manufacturing in the country is currently performing well below potential, he said concerted efforts need to be made to take manufacturing sector’s contribution towards GDP to 25 percent. Then only can India become a trillion dollar economy and generate adequate employment opportunities for our youth, he added.

Jain cautioned the industrialists that trends are changing fact, especially after the trade war between US and China, and US and others, and they do not have the luxury of time. A sense of urgency has to set in fast before they face irreparable harm to their business prospects. Selective and systematic infusion of automation has become imperative to support the manpower, which itself has to be gradually reduced to bring about greater efficiency and profitability, he said.

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