The 4th Manufacturing Innovation Conclave organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries on the theme “Innovation as a Key Differentiator” was held in New Delhi today. The inaugural session saw Jayant Davar, Co-Chairman & MD, Sandhar Technologies Ltd agreeing with this website’s philosophy that “Jugaad” does not work anymore. He added that innovation is a bottom-up process where the shop floor inspires top management.
Naresh N Shahani, Founder & MD, BMGI (India) pointed out that only 7 of the 30 BSE Sensex companies from 30 years ago were still a part of the index. Building an ‘Innovation DNA’ by going back to fundamentals and supporting new ideas were some views he put forward which were echoed through the remainder of the Conclave. The Chief Guest, Ajay Shankar, IAS, Member Secretary, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council, in his keynote took this further saying that our feudal culture often resulted in our delayed global integration whereas China zoomed ahead with 30% excess capacity across the manufacturing spectrum. Despite this Shankar felt India has the ecosystem to be globally competitive, since nearly the entire Fortune 500 continue to aggressively hire R&D staff for their India centres.
The ‘Leadership and Innovation’ session saw some thought-provoking insights. Bringing the customer into the innovation process, Subhankar Lahiri, Head, Manufacturing Vertical, Ricoh India Ltd., was of the opinion that customer engagement while enhancing product features was essential. According to Dr. Maghin Tamilarasan, Director, Strategy & Business Development, Rolls-Royce India Ltd. staying ahead of the innovation game means partnering research institutes and university technology centres apart from in-house R&D.
Providing a hard-core engineering perspective for leading innovation, Rahul Sehgal, Director, Business Consulting and Strategy, Siemens Industry Software (India) Pvt, Ltd. prophesied that “Cyber Physical Systems” or machine to machine (M2M) conversation would be the way forward. Industry 4.0, a high-tech strategy project in Germany is providing key lessons in this area. Such high-tech systems have more value when they are “democratized” as highlighted by Rajiv Bajaj, Country Manager, Manufacturing Solutions India and SAARC, Autodesk, Inc. The Innovation Genome Project initiated at Autodesk, aimed to do just this by making each person involved in the process, an agent of innovation.
A CEOs panel in the session after lunch focused on measurability of innovation using processes like ‘Lean and Lag’. Pankaj Dubey, Country Head and MD, Polaris India felt lean innovation is the “core” innovation. Staying with this thought Manoj Kumar, Exec VP, Ricoh India, insisted on monitoring innovative products during the gestation period since not all are instantly successful.
Bringing the discussion back to the importance of the customer J V. Ramamurthy, President & COO, HCL Infosystems, maintained that understanding the customer’s pain-point was the inflection point in innovation. Dilip Sawhney, MD India, Rockwell Automation, agreed, noting that innovation should impact the customer in some way to be successful. Utilising real time information generated from manufacturing operations is one way to ensure this.
In the final session of the Conclave, Shammi Pant stressed that we need to produce more with less use of raw material and with lower waste generation. She found agreement from Dr. Zubin Varghese, Sr. Director, Innovation and Advanced Engineering, Ingersoll Rand, which is exploring innovative ways to ensure clean air, safe food and energy efficiency. He even felt that “courage to kill the project” is a necessity for success in innovation. Ashok Wadhawan, President, Manufacturing Business, Punj Lloyd Group, provided an engineering perspective wherein backward integration by Punj Lloyd has made them more innovative.
Nimish Danani of BMGI India, summed up with some key takeaways such as the need to challenge existing best practices. Innovations would not necessarily always come from a need just like touchscreen phones were not really a need but an added feature which was rapidly embraced. Watch this space for more coverage and check out our conference live blog which has a blow by blow account of the event.