Digital is fast becoming part of our life. Today, there are millions of connected devices, smartphones, and Internet users. This number is increasing rapidly. According to IHS Markit, the number of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices worldwide will jump 12 per cent on average annually, from around 27 billion in 2017 to 125 billion in 2030. Enterprises are in a race to adopt and implement the technology.
Mahesh Patil, CIO, SKODA Auto talks about the implementation of new technology in Skoda Auto’s manufacturing plant in his interview to dynamicCIO. Skoda Auto has its assembly plant in Aurangabad, Maharashtra in India.
He spoke about the digital and smart factory initiatives to derive benefits which include cost cutting and speeding up work. At the same time, implementing advanced technology meant reducing the reporting time for any problem occurring in the process of manufacturing of the cars or wherever there is a deadlock. Fast mitigation of problems during different stages of manufacturing at a faster pace and reducing overall energy consumption were the main objectives that led to implementation of IOT.
Introduction of IOT as a key technology
According to Patil, IOT implementation was started as a pilot project. Installing scanners in factories to capture the online data for car manufacturing at check points the car goes through was a way to initiate. The scanner captures data in form of tags. For example, if we start with Tag A it means we have started with the empty body of the car, in Tag B certain things get added into the car. In this way, things get added and so tags are added in every stage with changes that happen and at last they are ready for dispatch.
At any stage of tagging if some problem occurs, then that car is kept on hold till the problem is solved, till then the rest of the cars are passed through till the last tagging. The scanner also captures the identification number of the car and captures the data and that gets added in their database. Earlier, supervisors prepared MIS report which had an excel sheet. The sheet had all the details about each car that passed through the manufacturing process. The report was sent to the top management on a daily basis/ hourly basis and was time consuming. IOT application has helped in accessing real time data at any given time from any location.
How it has eradicated the problems?
Introduction of IoT has resulted in getting information for customers who are mainly in-house e.g. customers who are in production department or quality. Mahesh Patil says due to this a lot of time and cost saving has happened.
“We have been able to identify if there is a specific problem that is occurring for each car or happening for all cars during its production phase. If the problem is occurring for every car then management takes a decision to bring the cars in shop floor for further investigation of the problem. If the problem is for a single car then that car is kept on hold for passing the next stage of tagging. We call it Car Production Monitoring tool which allows reading the problem or any defects during manufacturing,” he says.
They have multiple models for each car at the shop floor. With this tool they can identify if a specific problem with a specific car model or the problem with the parts of a specific car or a unique problem is occurring for all the cars. The tool helps in checking the quality of the parts and sending it back to the vendor. Earlier, this sort of thing was manual and time consuming.
They have come up with an App, where all information about the manufacturing stages which a car goes through is provided in detail for internal usage. They have provided the solution on Tablets to view it via the browser. The top management can get to see the status of the car in production when they are within corporate network. If any car is on hold at any stage during manufacturing, management can see the reasons why the car is on hold as information is available via the App and action is taken as required without wasting time.
“IOT has been introduced not only for the manufacturing part. We are also in discussion to expand the usage of IOT to optimize power consumption and energy consumption. Reduced communication timing is not required to prepare any MIS report separately, as the tool captures all reports. The idea is to place IOT in such a way, where they can see if the overall cost for electricity and energy consumption is reduced in the plant.
Another area of IOT application they are in discussion for smart parking using RFID technology. Using RFID technology, one can see the identification number of the cars as the reader is required to be embedded in parking gates to identify cars and bring to the manufacturing zone if further changes are required in the car.
“This is in process for implementation and we hope to get good results out of it as we implement it in near future,” he says.