IT Leadership

Hero MotoCorp Puts Major Thrust Behind IoT Enabled Smart Factories; AI and RPA Pilots Underway

Hero MotoCorp, India’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, has been at the forefront of digital adoption, including industry firsts like selling bikes and spare parts online. The company is working around a digital transformation roadmap with concerted experimentations and PoCs around new age digital technologies through Centre of Excellence set up for AI/ML, IoT, 3D printing, Blockchain, cloud, predictive analytics, etc.

IoT for Smart Factories

According to Vijay Sethi, CIO, CHRO & Head CSR, Hero MotoCorp, IoT is playing a big role in the two-wheeler giant’s digital journey with a lot of activities and projects underway, whether on the product front, on the shop floor or within the ecosystem.

Moving towards Industry 4.0, Hero MotoCorp is laying a huge thrust around shop floor automation using IoT. “IoT on the shop floor is about making our factories smart and ensuring that we pick up data in real-time from the machines and take action on that data to make our products better, ensure consistent quality, bring down overall costs, leading up to enhanced customer satisfaction at the end of the day.”

The data being captured through the IoT sensors includes parameters like temperature, humidity, vibration rates, rate of spinning, quality parameters, etc. And, then taking action in case any of the parameters goes beyond the permissible limits. The company is implementing and exploring use cases are around predictive maintenance, quality monitoring and control and predicting machine health/breakdown among others.

The company started with the initiative around a year back, which is already up and running in some of its factories as more are in the process of being covered. According to Sethi, smart factories are an ongoing journey with new data parameters and use cases being continuously added as well as more factories being covered.

Digital Cockpit

Taking this a step further, Hero MotoCorp is now setting up digital cockpits at its manufacturing plants. Digital cockpit is essentially a physical space within the plant where big TV monitors and screens all around display real-time data coming from the machines through IoT. Thus, giving a bird’s eye view of the entire plant and the health of its machines. It sends out real-time alert if anything goes wrong so that immediate action can be taken.

The digital cockpit has already been implemented in one of the company’s factories and the project is soon going live in two more.

Taking IoT Beyond Factory

Beyond the smart factory, Sethi started implementing IoT in the data centre as well. This includes capturing parameters such as temperature, humidity, electricity, voltage, etc. to help to reduce power consumption, monitor performance and bring down downtime. The company has also been piloting IoT use cases in its offices to optimize and bring down costs of utilities consumption, such as electricity.

Other Key Digital Projects Underway

Besides IoT, the company is actively undertaking projects in the areas of AI/ML, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR).

It is currently working on two pilots around AI – one is around using AI in information security and the second one is around using the technology for predicting customer behavior. Meanwhile, it will soon be going live with an AI-enabled chatbot for internal IT and HR support for its employees with plans to integrate chatbot into its customer facing apps in the future.

Hero MotoCorp also recently did a pilot on RPA, wherein it automated the invoicing process. According to Sethi, the pilot was a success with benefits in terms of improved efficiency, reduction in errors and faster speed. Seeing the success, he now plans to take up other processes for automation through RPA in the future.

On the AR/VR front, the company is conducting PoCs around using the two technologies for training of workers and mechanics.

As the company explores multiple digital technologies, Sethi firmly believes that no one technology is going to be the game changer for any company, including Hero MotoCorp. “You can’t really get the benefits of digitization with only one technology. To my mind, it’s going to be a combination of all technologies working towards the end objective of enhancing customer satisfaction and delight, whether internal or external customers, through enhancing product quality, bringing down cost, refining processes and making employees more efficient,” sums up Sethi.

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