The Infosys global supply chain management blog enables leaner supply chains through process and IT related interventions. Discuss the latest trends and solutions across the supply chain management landscape.

March 9, 2015

Moving on with Mobility for Asset Maintenance

Most of us have a smart phone / tab nowadays.  Earlier, we found our laptops to be an innovative gadget making our lives easier. Now we have shifted our focus towards our smart devices since it has replaced many of the activities we do in our computers with ease. Mobile technology coupled with internet has opened up a new gateway of communication. I sometimes get perplexed to see how different ends of the world are being connected in fraction of seconds. We do shopping, check our mails, recharge our mobiles, take pictures and videos, chat with friends, read books, track flight status, play games,......a whopping list of endless features. We sometimes don't even reveal our lack of awareness of any such feature in the smart device, to avoid being considered as 'outdated'.

While Smart devices have changed our life style in different ways, it has also influenced the way we do our asset maintenance. As software vendors look out for opportunities to develop mobile apps for different uses, some of them have already placed their footprint into Enterprise Asset Management arena. Many mobile versions of EAM software are made available now a days to capitalize on the potential market in maintenance segment. However, Maintenance Organizations are gradually but carefully changing their processes in this direction since it involves analysis of application fit, investment plan and implementation strategy. This trend is picking up its pace since the benefits are coming out to be evident. However gradual pace of this shift is accountable to few challenges faced by these organizations in implementing a mobile EAM application.

Let us see how few of these challenges are being met in recent times:

 

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March 3, 2015

Best Practices in Facilities Management

Facility management is a business practice that optimises people, processes, assets, and the working environment to support the delivery of the organisation's commercial objectives. It ensures that the customer's facility is in optimum operational condition and that they are receiving services in a prompt and organized manner. The Facility Management Services could range from maintaining building's air conditions, electrical network, plumbing to cleaning building premises, maintaining landscapes, provide catering services etc. It is about improving and maintaining the quality of life within a facility. It is the role of facility management service provider to ensure that everything is available and operating properly for building occupants to do their work.

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March 1, 2015

Importance of Prototying in Package Implementation- II

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Importance of Prototying in Package Implementation- I

Catching on latest happenings in LinkedIn; reading through some wonderful posts and getting involved in discussions has been one of my favorite unwinding lately. The guys out here are really cool, there is a lot to learn from them. The knowledge they possess, the experience they have and the way they articulate things have been inspiring. Read a comment from Biju Varughese recently on how a wrongly done requirements gathering could be a precursor to a painful IT Implementation. Actually Biju's note resonated with folks I met recently during a recent customer meet. Even they had concerns on how requirements are destined for frequent changes. While the folks in the meeting discussed emphatically on how requirements are changed as late as User Acceptance test, I actually got tele-transported back to my stint in a process optimization exercise at one of the largest utility companies. I would like to share this bit of my tryst with you in a hope that it would add value to your projects.

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January 22, 2015

Configuration Management for Complex Assets

We are getting into an era where tremendous inventions and engineering marvels taking shape in front of our eyes. At one time flying across continents was considered to be challenge. When this become reality with aircraft, focus shifted to improve the efficiency of these marvels. Latest of the latest aircrafts being designed are expected to offer increased operating efficiency, enhanced passenger comfort and lesser noise. In future hope we will even never realize a takeoff and landing! While it becomes imperative that manufacturing being one side of the coin, maintaining these marvels working for the intended purpose is the other side of it. It is the daunting responsibility of airlines to keep it running. Latest engineering advancements have paved the way to develop huge complex assets like aircrafts, locomotives, automotive, earth movers etc. However, when it comes to maintaining these assets, one important challenge is to manage their whole assembly structure, which we call as 'Configuration Management'.

Some key reasons for this are:
1. Need for visibility of Asset configuration which comprises of various major component assemblies like Engines, Landing gears, Transformers, Traction Motors, Rectifiers etc. This helps in maintaining the Asset configuration up to date which ensures that the asset is intact with all mandatory components
2. Ability to track component and sub components at serial number level inside the major component assemblies with their designated positions on the Main assembly (like Aircraft, Locomotive, etc.). This helps is following the movement of life limited subcomponents across different parent assemblies and implementing engineering changes (Service Bulletins, Directives, Campaigns, etc.)
3. Integrating configuration information with maintenance (includes maintenance programs, inventory optimization for alternates and spares, etc.)
4. Preserving maintenance history of each components for regulatory compliance and warranty tracking

 

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January 18, 2015

The Expert Talks- Sustainability

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 About The Expert

 

Vijayaraghavan Krishnamurthy is a Principal Consultant working with Digital and Integration Services at Infosys. Vijay has worked extensively across areas spanning Supply Chain Planning and Execution. He is based out of Hyderabad, India and is closely associated with the ECO group at Infosys, working on sustainable practices. Read on as Vijay shares with us his insights on Sustainability in the context of Supply Chain Management.

 

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December 3, 2014

Should we really 'Make in India'? Why & How?

 



Should we really 'Make in India'? Why & How?


Last month on my flight back to Pune after Diwali Vacations, I happened to read an article on Manufacturing strategy in India. The writer was a former bureaucrat of recently defunct Planning commission. It made me think have we really missed the bus, Are we too late or even if we aren't, Is it a step in right direction. Well if it is, then it should be put forward in the right manner too.


Politically speaking I have been giving cheers and thumbs up to the decisions of our Prime Minister so far. He talks about good governance, employment, growth and development so on and so forth. The article I read in my flight made me ponder on the decision to "Make in India". The motive behind the rhetoric which I think and have explained later is still naïve, is to bring and create more jobs in India, reduce unemployment and to thus solve the major problem of our burgeoning and aspirational young population. I agree that India's policy should mainly focus on creating millions of more jobs in manufacturing for the stability of India's socio-economic and political situation.


 Alas! There is a catch.....!!!!


In the present ever changing dynamics of world where new technologies can/are disrupting/replacing old monolithic production systems, It is not yet clear what our new government exactly wants from "Skill Development". Is it to predict how many technicians, mechanics or technicians or even carpenters will be needed in some years to come and precisely what skills are needed and  hence how to train those youth early?


Two kinds of technologies have combined together to disrupt the existing old conventional manufacturing monoliths. First one is the next big change which No doubt will change the dynamics of manufacturing processes. Have we heard about 3D printing lately?  It is basically manufacturing of a complete product by means of a single, automated machine, right from blueprint, prototype design, assembly and finished item. A 3D printer can make almost anything it may seem to take days, months and large skill force. Example: a complete apparel from raw material, or a complex internal combustion engine, turbine blade or even a machine gun that can fire bullets.. As a result, there are ever increasing fears that with the advent of this technology, what would be the role of human beings at operational levels as the number of jobs in manufacturing will appreciably reduce. No doubt the valuation of machines, patents, factories will reduce as newer invention of disruptive technologies but the risk of human liability is imperative. But doesn't automation kill jobs even though it creates fewer on which companies like ours exist?. No wonder enterprises come to us for (first) Cost Cutting (then) Outsourcing (through) Automation (using) Technologies (end) Blah Blah Blah.... J!


So this 'New  world order' is of cutting edge and more importantly Disruptive technology, we have to plan and devise our policy of 'Make in India' keeping this in mind.  A world in which everything is done by machines or computers is very much thinkable if not realistic. Let me try to complete my whimsical fantasy as one should also visualize what human beings might be doing in such a world, How will we earn to pay for all the products and services created by machines. A completely mechanized world, in which machines will produce machines. All this might require very few or negligible workforce. Probably the only people who will have money or will be generating it may be a handful of capitalists who own these machines, their financial managers to manage it and increase it further or their lawyers to fight for any property disputes amongst them! This might create a perpetual cycle in which power will entirely be in the hands of capitalists only, and to increase and protect their power they will replace leftover humans with more efficient and 'obedient' machines. While I have contemplated a twist in the script of Hollywood Sci-Fi flick 'Transcendence' which could have brought some more revenues to it. But I surely don't think the idea is far behind.


The second one is the Digital technology connecting widely dispersed suppliers and customers which are creating new disruptive business models in India like abroad such as flipkart, olacabs, bms. Even though things aren't as bad for our own Indian Baniya ? (Brick-mortar retail store) but the combinations of these different technologies are leading to ideation and thus invention of large networks of many small enterprises.


Hence, methods of skill development which are based on the Assembly-line production to ensure mass production through large workforce might not be the correct approach. When it's just not clear how to predict the type of these jobs in coming 5 to 10 years what are we going to teach in the program where youth's career is involved and India's future as well. The government skill development programs should inculcate in youth the ability to learn required and much needed latest technology skills in the enterprises where the jobs are being created rather than through a large system like Skill development institutes that aims for mass production by millions of narrowly skilled and certified people who may not be employable any more when they pass out from these institutes. A similar problem is faced by Indian IT companies for past several years.


Now coming on to the point from where I started the discussion: Is "Make in India" statement incomplete or flawed? India, with its large aspirational youth population must be at the forefront of the creation of new disruptive models of manufacturing. India's policymakers must envisage what shapes these new enterprises to safeguard the interests of youth keeping in mind the new technologies that might come up. The new models can be formulated on these new concepts of production management and technology. Hence we shouldn't create Jobs like old conventional model of say garment manufacturing which may lead to wastage of time, training and effort of youth at the advent of radically disruptive technology. We surely don't want to be world's largest 'towel' manufacturer!


Another challenge for us is to make the "Make in India" financially viable. Unlike China, India may not sustain to be the market place of 'cheap labor'. We have a vibrant democracy which has its roots spread till Worker Unions in each factory. The main aim of Indian policy makers must be  improving the livelihoods of all Indian citizens. So can we compete with China's Low cost manufacturing? No! Have we ever wondered about the recent decision by our Communist neighbor to abrogate one-child norm with two-child norm. Why has this been done? Is it because India will soon overtake the dubious distinction of World's most populous country? I think probably not, it's because China's working class which is primarily 'Youth' is diminishing as a percentage of country's total population. China will soon be the place of world's most populous country of old men. Hence to increase the youth's population and sustain in being world's manufacturing hub, they had to change this policy. It is an inexorable certainty.


But we must keep this in mind as well that we just can't merely aim to increase the gross domestic product (GDP). Our aim should also be that the manufacturing strategies lead to growth in jobs and opportunities for better livelihoods, not just increase the share of manufacturing output in overall GDP (which has been stagnant for years)--As that can be easily increased by some large investments in capital-intensive factories which probably the government is doing right now from back end, much to its folly. The Indian economists overriding concern must be the satisfaction of workforce and not the satisfaction of capital. Humanistic values should be core of governance policies of manufacturing enterprises in which the creation of shareholders financial value must not overrun human aspirations. Moreover, centrestage of the growth of employment should be to have it dispersed across the country into many smaller enterprises. This will lead to all round regional growth and prevent mass scale migrations and regional polarization of jobs. No doubt, their network with larger clusters must be facilitated, with which they will get the benefits of a large scale enterprise, purchasing power without losing their innovativeness and entrepreneurship.  Therefore the push through policies must be on  core strategy of supply chain design which is to drive the creation of more effective supply networks, clusters, hubs, and cooperative enterprises.


Let me offer a polemic to my earlier confabulation: Technology is the only force shaping this 'New world order' today. No doubt the production systems are changing with technology or sometimes even some business processes get re-engineered (Radically change with a need of doing away with what was done earlier to reduce costs , effort and bring efficiency). But Human need may not be completely eliminated. They will be performing new activities in the enterprises which will gradually take new forms. Technology will enabler in shaping new enterprises and may be they will ascertain my earlier concern somehow but we must agree that as more disruptive technologies are developed, human beings will remain at the center of new forms of sustainable and networked manufacturing systems.



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November 12, 2014

How to measure the performance of a manufacturing plant?

Posted by Abhay Dhall, Associate Consultant (Manufacturing Vertical), Infosys Limited

In my previous blog, I spoke about the need for companies to create a value stream map for their processes in order measure, control & improve their processes. To preach is one thing but to perform is something else. Is it as easy to execute as being said?

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October 20, 2014

Simple Measurements - Levers for Operational Efficiency Gains

Posted by Abhay Dhall, Associate Consultant (Manufacturing Vertical), Infosys Limited

The world of manufacturing is perpetually concerned with improving operational and manufacturing efficiency of a plant. A common approach is the much-used and abused lean manufacturing. Manufacturing companies think of lean manufacturing as a formula but instead it is a philosophy with many facets which can create value by reducing redundancy and non-value processes in a manufacturing system. The philosophy of reducing waste must be applied throughout the value chain of a product and not just during the manufacturing phase because by the time the product is on the shop floor, most likely it has gone through multiple unnecessary systems and processes.

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September 30, 2014

Typical Challenges in a Repair & Return Process - Part 2 ( Analysis)

Analysis & Probable Solution:

The conversation which is mentioned in the blog titled "Typical Challenges in a Repair & Return - Part 1" brings out some of the key issues which are pertinent to a repair & return process. In the following section I have attempted to classify the issues into categories and suggested possible solutions for them.

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