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August 5, 2019

SAFETY - Is it really our TOP Priority ?

SAFETY - Is it really our TOP Priority

If not, let's do it


It was yet another shocking and distressing incident happened that caused a number of fatal casualties and countless injured persons. Referring to the recent accident occurred due to landslide in a Coal mine in Odisha, India on 23rd July 2019. Many mining personnel's and equipment's buried under the thousands of metric tonnes of rock. And this is not for the first time, a number of such incidents/accidents were witnessed by the industry in the past all over the world and still we are not able to provide a safe working environment for the community.

mine accident-21.jpg


Although there are no accurate figures, but estimates and statistics suggest that almost 12,000 to 15,000 people loses their life in a year in such accidents worldwide.

While industry experts say the number of fatalities has decreased considerably since the early 20th Century, there has been no shortage of tragic mining accidents in recent years. ( ref: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-11533349 )

The news flashes for a couple of hours on news channels, papers, followed by rescue operations, few suspensions and putting some inquiry commission for further investigation. But do we really need another investigation? Or some strong steps to follow the safety norms and recommendations which may have been provided during prior such investigations.

On one side we are making proud moments for ourselves and country by establishing milestone in the technological advancement in all the sectors including space technologies, which is also being recognized throughout the world, but at the same time on another side, we are not even able to leverage the existing technologies to provide a better and safe working environment for workers and the society. That too for the industry like mining, which is the back bone for the growth and up-liftment of all other industries as well as for human beings.

Being a mining professional and serving the industry for almost last 13 years across various countries, and more specifically working on technology side since last more than one year with Infosys, I couldn't stop myself to bring and highlight this point again that we have to take some strong decisions and necessary steps to eliminate such un-wanted incidents, and it is possible by adopting proper technologies which can ensure the safety measures, which is doable and need not require any rocket science to implement.

"We have to inherent the safe working practice among ourselves as a practice & culture and not by force for doing so just for the sake of records".

Considering the volume of material handled by mining projects and cost associated with it, loss of a single shift without operation/production is significant in nature. The occurrence of such accidents plays significant role in loss of production and revenue. If we take the example of the above incident, where we lost the life of few workers, injured many others which off-course can't be measured and re-covered against any cost, but as a fact the project was shut down for a couple of days after the accident, and it cost millions of dollars. Both such losses could be saved by just adopting some technologies to ensure safety measures. And the cost associated with this may be a very negligible fraction comparing the overall loss. And this is applicable to more or less in all such incidents.

How Technology Can Help?

The technologies which are readily available for us can play very crucial role for improvising the safety standards in such working conditions like mining and construction sites, plant operations etc.

In most of such cases, incidents can be avoided if the key parameters associated with operational processes and/or working plans/designs are being monitored properly. Capturing the data in real time or near real time, analyzing the current and historical data for any specific trends, etc. can  help in predicting any  failure or unsafe working conditions well in advance. The technologies like AR/VR, AI, ML, Automation, Image processing, etc. can  help in providing early predictions of such unsafe conditions which can save not only the money, but more importantly the lives of individuals. It is very unfortunate and hard to believe fact, that people are using technologies for fun and entertainment like in gaming, film industries, and other such sectors, which not bad at all, but at the same time unable to leverage the benefits of such technologies for essential areas where there is a risk to life.

While working with Infosys, we got the opportunity to work closely with various technologies and the good work the team has done across all the industry segments like Medical, Automobile, Agriculture, Aerospace & Defense, Industrial manufacturing, utilities, etc. Developing platform and solutions for Digital Twin, Smart Factory, Autonomous vehicle, Development of next generation self-learning AI platform like KRTI 4.0 for operational excellence, various projects on Environmental Monitoring for a number of processing plants, Autonomous haulage, Next generation Autonomous Drilling, Collision Avoidance system, Proximity Detection, Drone based real time monitoring and many such projects for world's leading companies are just a few examples from the vast projects list. 

This gives an opportunity to use the existing matured technologies from one industry segment and leveraging it for the industries like mining, construction, etc. which are still struggling to get the benefits out of it. Using the same thought process, it was observed that Drone based real time or near real time monitoring can play a crucial role in capturing the required data and predicting the failure and unsafe conditions well in advance and we can avoid such accidents as mentioned earlier. The good part is Infosys is already using this technology in other segments. For example, in the Agriculture industry Infosys developed a solution for monitoring the Crop health using Drone, soil sensors & IoT devices, and not only specific clients but the whole industry started getting benefits out of it. The same concept can be applied for monitoring such mine sites where it is very difficult to get the required data using manual method which is more time consuming, unsafe and sometime the area of interest are not even reachable. The Drone can be used for capturing the required data efficiently and quickly. Which can be transferred to concern department in real time for further processing and monitoring.

Drone Monitoring.jpg

The image captured by Drone, along with other data generated by sensors and devices like displacement, stress, pressure, etc. can be used all together for measuring and monitoring any displacement of rock or structure, development of cracks, fractures, and any unstable features like wedges, cohesion, pore pressure, toppling, etc. and predicting unsafe working conditions well in advance so that necessary measures can be taken, which greatly enhances safety and peace of mind on-site.

This is one of such example where we may need not to re-invent the wheel to solve the problem, but to use the existing technologies and learning from the good work done in the past despite of any industry segment, and leveraging the same to solve the issues. Infosys, which focuses on these aspects and committed to its clients for providing the best of the breed technology solutions to make a safer, healthier and efficient working environment. Structuring ENCAS (Engineering Consulting and Architecture Services) group at Infosys, and enabling a fortnightly connect with industry and domain specific SME's is such a great step taken by ENCAS leadership and senior management. Where all such critical resources and like-minded people come together and shares their good experience and work done in their respective domain. This enables and provides a mechanism for a smooth transition of technological use cases from one industry to another.

 

The same idea and concept can be further explored to have a consortium of various industries like railway, road, construction, mining, oil and gas, etc.on a regional or national level where people can discuss and share their industry or work specific issues, their possible solution and how the best practices, technological solution, etc. can be adopted from one industry segment to another for the overall benefit of the industry, society and ultimately the peoples working there.

 

By providing a safe and healthy working environment, we are not only avoiding such accidents, but also increasing the efficiency of individuals and the overall process. As quoted earlier, safety should be in our practice and culture and not to be adopted by force.

The life of each individual is a gift & valuable, let's allow technology to make it more safe and beautiful.

"Tomorrow: your reward for working safely today."- Robert Pelton

April 22, 2019

The importance of engineering cloud-native and service based architecture layers for 5G Core Network Functions

Author: Balaji Thangavelu, Principal Consultant, Engineering Services

Service Oriented Architecture is a paradigm that has been around for a long time in the IT industry. Its success through deployments across vertical-industries has proven benefits  such as an extensible architecture, loosely coupled services, parallel development, higher availability and scalability. I am glad to see it crossing the boundary and coming into Network Engineering with the advent of Network Function Virtualization(NFV). Especially, its adoption into the 5G world in the form of 'Service Based Architecture(SBA)' is going to benefit the entire network ecosystem.

cloud-native approach to deploying the 5G Core VNFs(Virtual Network Functions) that follow the service based architecture model unlocks new stream of benefits for mobile operators. These benefits would be closely associated with scale and resilience of network functions. In simplistic terms, cloud-native is an approach to building and running applications that exploits the advantages of cloud computing delivery model. The cloud-native landscape is very vast and is constantly evolving.  Let us narrow down our focus and look at it in the context of 5G Core network VNFs.

In this blog post, I have shared my thoughts on how service-based architecture(SBA) and cloud-native implementation are an integral part to the overall design of the 5G core network. I have also highlighted key reasons as to why it is important to engineer these layers carefully to achieve the right balance between scale and service availability. Let us first understand a little bit about Service Based Architecture and cloud-native in context with 5G.

Continue reading "The importance of engineering cloud-native and service based architecture layers for 5G Core Network Functions" »

January 30, 2019

AR-VR at the intersection of SDN-NFV, 5G and Mobile Edge Computing - a practitioner's perspective

Author: Balaji Thangavelu, Principal Consultant, Engineering Services


In this blog post, I have shared my thoughts on how 5G, Software-Defined Networking & Network Functions Virtualization (SDN-NFV) and Mobile Edge computing (MEC) are an integral part of AR-VR(Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality) use cases, by taking a closer look at one of the interesting AR-VR use cases. I have also highlighted key factors that make it imperative for eco system players to engineer these technology areas with due considerations on some of the critical parameters.

Continue reading "AR-VR at the intersection of SDN-NFV, 5G and Mobile Edge Computing - a practitioner's perspective" »

January 9, 2019

5G - Small Cells 'Steal the Thunder' in 5G Era

Author: Balaji Thangavelu, Principal Consultant, Engineering Services


In this blog post, I have shared my thoughts on the significance of small cells in 5G, and how we need to gear up our innovation capabilities to address some unique challenges associated with small cell infrastructure deployment and RF planning.


Continue reading "5G - Small Cells 'Steal the Thunder' in 5G Era" »

July 18, 2018

Connected Cars - The Telematics Journey ahead....


The auto industry is going through rapid evolution. The need for speed and fuel efficiency, traverse all types of terrains, and navigate in increasing traffic is pushing original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to build vehicles with improved power, torque, and speed. As cars get built with increasing technological sophistication and intelligence, the core business of OEMs is shifting from car manufacturing to transportation.

The era of the connected car was launched in the 2000's when the first infotainment systems found their way onto car dashboards. The navigation display and entertainment audio systems got OEM's thinking beyond machines, and scrutinize the business of transportation - moving people and goods from one place to another. Transportation involves planning and execution of a journey. And planners are usually bombarded by a host of questions, which method of transport to choose? For instance, should it be by road, air, or water? If the mode of transportation is road then what vehicle should be chosen, car, bike, or bus? If the choice is the car, then the next question is on the route to be taken, what could the weather be, if it is snowing, then should the vehicle have winter tires, where will the vehicle be parked, when should the vehicle be refueled, where are the fuel stations and how far apart are they, and just some of the questions to be answered.


The rise of smartphones has enabled drivers to connect to the internet via tethering. Technologies such as MirrorLink, a device interoperability standard that offers integration between a smartphone and a car's infotainment system, have started making their way onto the car dashboards, and OEM's have now found a way of connecting the car to the rest of the world. OEM's, as well as Tier1 car companies, have started investing on building their own telematics platform. This is a comprehensive ecosystem of communication and consists of sensors, instrumentation, wireless communications, and more. As almost every industry begins to understand the potential of connected devices we are in a new era where IoT platforms are paving the way for M2M communication. BMW's Connected Drive, Audi Connect, Toyota's Touch 2 and Ford SYNC are a few prominent examples.


Most of the cars today use tethering connectivity through the phone to connect to the Internet. Few have already started on the next phase with inbuilt Wi-Fi.  Big OEM's are already working on Data Communication Modules, built for e-call and disaster recovery, and for telematic services such as remote diagnosis, infotainment gateway, and others. Market studies predict that by 2030 the connected car will expand revenue in the automotive industry by about 30 percent.


With the possibility of faster and dedicated internet connection within the car, and access to data becoming simpler, smartphone apps will have a key role in the future which will start shifting the automotive industry from vehicle manufacturing to transportation, and then on to mobility. This will lead to the emergence of new services,


Pre - Journey - Route planner, send2car, insurance - driver behavior, pay-as-you-go, dealer locators, rent-a-car, carpooling, calendar integration and more.


Journey - Maps, real-time traffic updates, weather updates, fuel station locators, parking garage, Point of interest , follow me, Over the air upgrade , voice recognized apps and services, find-my-car apps and more.


Post Journey - Trip analysis, social networking, share-the-trip, maintenance and service, service reminders, driver tips, etc.

Looking at these services we can expect connected cars to reshape the automotive industry and the business model for OEM's in unexpected ways. OEM's will longer be able to thrive by manufacturing the best cars but will need to plan on how to incorporate them into a highly connected world.

Continue reading "Connected Cars - The Telematics Journey ahead...." »

December 6, 2016

DevOps - A catalyst for IOT solution development

Recently, I presented at the international SPICON 2016 - theme of "Energizing Delivery in a Digital Paradigm". I spoke about how DevOps is quintessential for IOT solution development and the feedback was very encouraging from the audience. You can find my presentation here. I have been actively evangelizing devops as a philosophy in IOT solution development.  

There is so much material on DevOps that I wouldn't want to add to it, however a slightly different take - DevOps definition is analogous to the blind men and elephant story that all of us have heard of. Enterprises who are thinking about DevOps as a magic wand to all their problems - let me implement Chef, Jenkins and Docker and voila all my problems are gone, must reconsider and reconsider really hard. You cannot be certified for DevOps, neither are there standards or checklists for implementing DevOps. I have also heard weird things such as DevOps is what Facebook, Google, Netflix does.

Continue reading "DevOps - A catalyst for IOT solution development" »

September 11, 2014

The car museum just got a new addition! Read on to know more about the exhibit ...

I just made up this catchy headline for some time in the future and if you are still wondering what the exhibit is - IT'S THE DRIVER  ... Now that I have caught your attention, and internal voices clamoring on both sides, I will delve into the subject to provide my perspective. Before that a little bit about the picture below, if you observe closely the "Now" time horizon is between the second and third picture - there's enough evidence where there is assisted driving with the driver having the ability to take back control. The "Later" picture is in black and white to emphasize that futurists have been dreaming about "driverless" cars for decades.

 Then Now Later v3.png
Most of the commentary today is about the technology involved and the millions of sensors, software algorithms that shape autonomous driving. I'd like to take a slightly different yet simple approach to cars without drivers - the critics might brush it off as triviality, but in my opinion simplicity pays off always.

Continue reading "The car museum just got a new addition! Read on to know more about the exhibit ..." »

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