Maruti Suzuki is upping the ante around digital with key initiatives underway around Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IoT. Additionally, the company is placing big bet on AI and analytics to make sense of its rapidly growing data to drive meaningful insights and business decisions.
RPA for Quicker Turnaround and Lower Error Rates
India’s largest car maker is currently working towards automating most of the routine mundane work and processes through the use of robotics in the areas of finance, supply chain and other business areas. After successfully conducting PoCs, the company is now undergoing mass adoption of RPA.
According to Rajesh Uppal, Executive Director – IT, CIO and CHRO, Maruti Suzuki, “My experience is that the ROI on these projects are very quick as you not only you save a lot of time with faster turnaround but also improve process efficiencies with errors rates coming down significantly.
Uppal is seeing a good traction for RPA adoption among the employees and doesn’t see the project impacting jobs. “RPA will actually free up our employees from mundane work, letting us divert them to higher value jobs. I see new kinds of jobs getting created. So the number of jobs won’t get impacted. Only thing that changes is the role and the content of the job, for which we are working towards re-skilling these people for a different kind of job,” he explains.
AI-Enabled Chatbot for HR Support
In the area of AI, Maruti Suzuki is carrying out multiple pilots around different use cases, including voice-enabled systems and chatbot. The company is currently in the process of deploying AI-enabled chatbot for employees for HR support and will soon go live. The chatbot will be able to answer any queries the employees may have relating to the HR function. This is part of the company’s overall thrust on enabling better connect for the employees with the company. The chatbot will be integrated with Maruti Suzuki’s employee platform, HR Assist, which was launched last year.
While starting with HR, the chatbot initiative will be extended to the other functions within the company as well. To begin with, the chatbot will be text based, but will eventually be made voice based by incorporating Natural Language Processing (NLP).
Enabling Industry 4.0 Adoption With IoT
As part of the move towards Industry 4.0 adoption, Maruti Suzuki is working on the whole equipment integration with IT using IoT, especially in the batch production part of its manufacturing operations. This includes the machines shops for engine components, press shops for body panels, injection boarding, etc. Based on this data being thrown up by the machinery, the company is building use cases around planning manufacturing volumes, improving machinery health and efficiencies and predicting maintenance.
Data-Driven Decisions Using AI and Analytics
A key highlight of Maruti Suzuki’s digital transformation strategy is a major thrust around data. It has embarked upon AI and analytics journey directed towards making sense of the company’s large and growing data repository and how to best use it to drive meaningful insights and better decisions. For this PoCs are currently underway.
As part of its huge data thrust, the company is building a data lake, which will be fundamental to its analytics strategy. It is in the process of shortlisting the technology for its data lake and working on the whole platform enablement. The data lake platform will have data coming from various sources, including the machines/equipments on the shop floor, customer interactions, social media, connected car system, business applications, etc., which will all be co-related to get meaningful output.
“Going forward, the ability to decipher the data and take right decisions at appropriate time based on that will be key for us to succeed and remain competitive. This is more so with our data volumes growing exponentially with the use of IoT and our recently launched Connected Car platform,” says Uppal.
In the first phase, the company will start leveraging data analytics for insights around operational areas like understanding customer, supply chain, distribution data, etc. to help forecast demand, predict quality issues, improve employee productivity and system efficiencies, etc.
In the second stage of its analytics journey, Maruti Suzuki will be looking at driving insights that can go as inputs into designing better products and improving vehicle efficiencies. For instance, a lot of data around vehicle performance, fuel levels, over-speeding, driving behavior, etc. is now coming in from the company’s connected car platform. This data can be analyzed to understand the car behavior in different geographies, etc. and can provide insights into improving product features.
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