IT Leadership

How Thyssenkrupp is Moving Towards Industry 4.0

Rajesh Pandita of thyssenkrupp in an interview with dynamiccio's Muqbil Ahmar

thyssenkrupp is a large industrial group with a stronghold in the areas industrial engineering and steel production. The  German multinational conglomerate is focusing on how to leverage its pioneering position using digital, which has been placed directly under the CEO’s portfolio of responsibilities to ensure that innovation and digital transformation, which are critical business differentiators these days, receive adequate importance.

According to Rajesh Pandita, India Region Head, Group Processes and IT at thyssenkrupp, the focus of digital transformation has mostly been in core manufacturing and building an additional layer of new technologies around the products. The aim is to develop better enabled products and services for improved customer experience. The other focus has been around improving internal and external customer engagements through tools that bring in efficiencies and offer better insights for decision making.

Without divulging a lot of details, Pandita informs that he is currently driving a global project aimed at using a common platform by all regional entities. “It comes with its own challenges of integrating multiple data sources as also heterogeneous end-use systems that are placed both on-premise and in the cloud,” he explains.

The focus is also a shift to cloud services as opposed to building infrastructure and services locally. According to him, cloud inevitably offers an ease of enhancing scale and together with right security measures in place, access to data anywhere. It enables use of available platforms that can foster in building intelligent models to support decision systems.

Technology Inputs for Digitization at thyssenkrupp

Various technologies and frameworks are available for use today. Based on the nature of business, different set of technologies together with need for integration of multiple channels may be required. It is important that data from several sources are captured centrally to really make a difference. Many digital products have been in use such as SCADA, DCS and PMS. The technologies over the years have evolved, however the objective all through has been to make better sense of data.

“A classic example is the use of Microsoft HoloLens that enables service staff identify equipment problems through visualization. It allows better preparation for problem at hand, gain access to resources online and hence lead to improved staff and customer satisfaction,” says Pandita.

The elevator business is a major vertical of thyssenkrupp that has rolled out Microsoft HoloLens. Using HoloLens, thousands of elevator service technicians are today able to identify as well as visualize problems ahead of a job, and have remote, hands-free access to technical and expert information when onsite, improving the way people move.

Digital Initiatives Need to be Customer Centric

All initiatives have to be customer centric and digital transformation is no different. The result of all such initiatives has to demonstrate a significant improvement in customer experience whilst enhancing the capabilities of the ecosystem supporting such an initiative, adds Pandita.

Talking about the use of emerging technologies, Pandita says, “A combination of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning (DL), Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in different flavours are some of the technologies that are being used at the core of the manufacturing sector for Industry 4.0.”

According to him, the new technologies enable better insights into the manufacturing assets, leading to improvement in the dependent supply chain processes. Specifically, he points out RPA and AI as technologies for improving internal and external engagements. As per Pandita, it is also critical to identify a partner and together help in developing products that meet and exceed customer demands. A long-term relationship yields better results. “It would be prudent to also look at new-age ventures with great ideas to participate in your digital journey,” he adds.

Future Digital Roadmap of thyssenkrupp

With several technologies available for use and specialist partners in specific domains, it is likely that companies have to engage multiple partners to drive projects. It becomes imperative in such situations to have the right skilled people to own the programme.

“A separate digital cell that is adequately staffed, together with interfaces with the various business and IT teams is an ideal way to have a focus on your digital programmes. As technologies evolve and integrate, we will see products with enhanced capabilities that delight a customer. We will also see consumerization of many technologies enabling many of us to use technologies that previously required specialised skills,” says Pandita.

thyssenkrupp employs about 155,000 employees in 80 countries to develop high quality products and intelligent industrial processes and services for sustainable progress.

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