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Innovate Through Technology

Innovation strategy should be aligned with business strategy and be driven top-down, say industry leaders at a roundtable organized by ET and Autodesk.

Indian manufacturing is undergoing drastic changes on various fronts-disruptive technologies, rising customer expectations, increasing competition; plus, the constant need to produce cost-effective products yet maintain quality standards, on-time delivery and increase revenue, while integrating new technologies. In such a scenario, without doubt, innovation plays a key role. To provide a platform for manufacturing leaders from different sectors to brainstorm on the matter, The Economic Times and design and engineering major Autodesk organized a roundtable on the theme "Innovation in Manufacturing: What Works" in Chennai recently. Attended by leaders of manufacturing across sectors, the meeting saw a stimulating discussion around the impact of technology innovation in the changing industry environment.

Ravi Raghavan, CEO & MD, BFW (Bharat Fritz Werner) said, "The customers do not want to wait long for product deliveries. So, our biggest disruption now is that there is no time for building a prototype and testing. The product after assembling should and must work fine."

And to keep up with the changing landscape, the obvious question to ponder amongst the panellists was: what exactly is driving innovation? Josh Foulger, Country Head and Managing Director, Foxconn International Holding, India, said, "Surely, the price is driving innovation but it isn't the only driver as sometimes you offset price by giving a better product so that you don't lose your average selling price." On the other hand, Raghavan said, "There is a better class of employees who are capable of using generative tools. And innovation cannot be driven by strategy but by culture." Adding to the mix, Khan said, "Other than just pricing, regulations are also driving innovations." Nair led this discussion toward a different angle and questioned, even though the importance of people is valued but going forward, with higher levels of automation and non-people centric innovations, "Is the pendulum shifting where people become less important to driving innovation?"

That led to a heated debate. Balancing the roles of the machine, data and human interaction in intelligent manufacturing environments dominated the discussion. While some believed in capitalizing human strength over machines and robots, other panellists leant more towards leveraging artificial intelligence and augmented designs.

The fast-paced discussion amongst top manufacturing leaders threw up several learnings. The role of pricing in driving innovation, the increasingly pervasive role of technology, plus the influence of demographics, regulations, governance, organization culture, and economic climate shifts were considered. Technologies such as 3D printing, augmented designs, artificial intelligence, and material sciences would be the future, but the role of people would remain strong.

Content & Image source: The Economic Times


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