10 minute read 21 Feb 2020
Digital manufacturing

Will the next transformation in manufacturing be led by digital?

By Ashish Nanda

EY India Business Consulting Leader

Thought leader in supply chain and operations. Passionate about digital transformation. Specialize in consumer products and retail. Fond of traveling and spending time with family.

10 minute read 21 Feb 2020

A look at the current status of digitization and smart factory in India.

The global manufacturing industry is at the cusp of a paradigm shift led by advanced technologies in manufacturing processes. Firms in developed nations are increasingly focusing on becoming more digital with the deployment of intelligent technologies to concentrate on producing smart products. In emerging markets too, companies have also started leveraging advanced technologies by using operational excellence techniques to remain competitive. The Indian manufacturing industry is beginning to explore new advancements in technology, such as data and analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics, and three-dimensional (3D) printing to drive changes for the benefit of their businesses. The merger of the physical and the digital world has enabled real-time visibility and control of manufacturing units across the value chain and has opened a new set of opportunities and challenges.

Factory-of-the-future brings end-to-end visibility within reach. It creates a real-time feedback loop empowering plant personnel to manage and optimize operations in real-time.
Vishnu Bhavaraju
Director – Industry Solutions, Manufacturing, Microsoft India

Within India, many medium and large companies have initiated proofs of concept (PoCs) across multiple domains including, energy, maintenance, dash-boarding, optimization, and analytics. However, these developments are still in their nascent stages and there is a lot to achieve. The Indian manufacturing sector continues to remain apprehensive about the benefits of embarking on an end-to-end digital journey. The industry is uncertain about what constitutes a Smart Factory. Leaders in the manufacturing space have varied interpretations and concepts on what the future holds for them. For Smart Factory to be a widespread success, there is a need for entities to have a consistent vision on the concept and for the ongoing PoCs to deliver promised results.

Bigger benefits can be achieved if we use these technologies for simplifying and de-stressing life at the shop floor. It is therefore imperative to integrate operator experience with the best automation and digital solutions.
Prashant Sharma
President, Group Manufacturing and Operations, Zydus Cadila
  • About the study

    The report, ‘Will the next transformation in manufacturing be led by digital?’, studies the evolution of the manufacturing industry in India and gauges how government initiatives and technologies are helping reshape the manufacturing setup in the country. The report also tries to capture the points of view of industry leaders in the manufacturing sector, analyzes their key investment priorities, challenges and technological readiness. It outlines how digital manufacturing can enable the creation of sustainable and digitally-empowered organizations. The report incorporates first-hand perspectives of the leaders of major manufacturing firms in India as part of a primary survey conducted by EY India. The findings are combined with extensive secondary research and analysis for a comprehensive perspective.

    Respondents’ profiles: During the primary research, EY interacted with approximately 50 leaders of large manufacturing organizations in India, including the COOs, CTOs/CIOs, and chiefs of manufacturing, quality and operational excellence, in the pharmaceutical and healthcare, automotive, consumer goods, industrial manufacturing and chemical sectors.

Digital manufacturing survey results

The findings of the report highlight the level of adoption of digital manufacturing and India’s preparedness level, the key driving factors, expectations on the benefits and existing challenges that manufacturers face in India.

Does your company have a digital manufacturing strategy?

Does your company have a digital manufacturing strategy

In what technologies would you like to invest in the next one or two years (based on the ranking, with rank 1 being the most important) to transform your current manufacturing process?

Graph 3

Identify the key challenges and risks associated in adopting digital manufacturing.

Graph 4

What areas do you think would your company benefit the most while adopting Digital Manufacturing (based on the ranking*)?

Graph 5

Leveraging Industry 4.0 technologies 

The study provides an insightful reflection of the awareness, readiness and status of implementation of digital manufacturing in India. It is apparent that manufacturing leaders have started exploring the adoption of digital manufacturing in their organizations. Some of them even have a strategy and a budget ready for digital manufacturing initiatives. However, lack of clarity on the economic benefits of the investments required to integrate hardware, software and technology infrastructure with digital systems and decision intelligence capabilities is acting as a roadblock for these organizations to move towards the adoption of digital manufacturing. Industry leaders are employing emerging technologies to improve the monitoring of process performance through measurement and visualization of KPIs, performance tracking, throughput enhancement and quality improvement. However, there seems to be a wait and watch approach and a majority of leaders are waiting to confirm the success/failures of the existing PoCs before getting convinced about the adoption of emerging technologies such as AI, 3D printing, Machine Vision, and Augmented Reality at scale.

We believe that in an evolving world of well-connected consumers, systems and processes with tremendous ease in accessing information, manufacturing organizations are expected to be proactive, agile, flexible and adaptive. In order to meet these expectations, companies can leverage Industry 4.0 technologies to enable them to:

  • Have real-time, on-demand information and visibility across the production chain
  • Apply advanced analytics capabilities to refine process and production techniques
  • Facilitate end-to-end integration with suppliers, channels, business partners and customers
  • Gain agility in manufacturing processes like implementing new products, cutting down cycle and waiting times, changeovers, and feedback loops
  • Reduce wastages (rejects, reworks, idle time, excess inventories) and be cost efficient
Digitizing the value chain is one of the top priorities of the operations-strategy agenda in manufacturing companies. Progressive organizations are moving from piloting of point solutions to delivering sustainable impact.
Jason Gonsalves
Senior VP, Corporate Planning, IT, Materials and HR, Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd.

The time to act is now and as a first leg of the journey, it is important for companies to identify and onboard the right talent and collaborate with the right partners who could provide them with a platform, hardware, sensors, and an application. The need of the hour is to quickly formulate their digital manufacturing strategy that takes cognizance of specific needs and utilize data as the central asset.  While having the right strategy is only a beginning, a clear roadmap defining the functions and combination of technologies would help companies to move forward.


Concepts such as Industry 4.0 and Smart Factory, which interconnect the shop-floor ecosystem through emerging technologies are now a reality. Digitization continues to transform manufacturing processes around the world leveraging technologies such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), artificial intelligence, advanced robotics, etc. However, the adoption of digital technologies in India is still in its infancy. Going by the success stories though, it is perhaps essential for manufacturing organizations in India to first understand and then embark on this digital transformational journey to remain competitive and attain world-class status.

About this article

By Ashish Nanda

EY India Business Consulting Leader

Thought leader in supply chain and operations. Passionate about digital transformation. Specialize in consumer products and retail. Fond of traveling and spending time with family.