ARC’s 17th India Forum Focuses on the Digital Transformation Journey – Part 1

By Sharada Prahladrao

ARC Report Abstract


ARC Advisory Group hosted its 17th India Forum for the process and discrete industries on July 4-5, 2019 in Bangalore, India.  This year’s ARC India Forum, Driving Digital Transformation in Industry and Cities, attracted over 270 delegates.

For the last several years, all ARC forums globally have focused on digital transformation.  Now, the conversation has zeroed in on how digitalization can help industries and cities grow in a secure, collaborative environment. Networking discussions among forum delegates and the presentations substantiated by case studies made it clear that the transition must be well strategized and charted.

Presentations revolved around how companies are digitalizing business processes, the digital journey, and where they are on the digital maturity curve. Emphasis was on the importance of seamless convergence between information technology (IT), operational technology (OT), and engineering technology (ET) on the plant floor.  In 2019, we are seeing further acceleration of the IT/OT/ET convergence to support the ongoing digital transformation of industries and cities. 

Lively and thought-provoking question and answer sessions with the speakers followed each session.  Part 1 of this two-part ARC Insight will focus on the first day's proceedings; Part 2 will focus on the second day’s proceedings.

July 4, 2019 – Inaugural Session

G. Ganapathiraman, Vice President and General Manager, ARC Advisory Group, India welcomed the delegates; and for the traditional lighting of the lamp, he invited the global sponsors on stage.

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Keynote Presentations

The Day 1 keynote presentations then followed a brief on-stage photo session with the silver, industry association, and media sponsors.    

Open Process Automation

Bradley G. Houk, Senior Engineering Advisor, ExxonMobil spoke about the company’s open process automation journey. He provided a brief history of how the Open Process Automation Forum (a forum of The Open Group) was formed in 2016; and in 2019 they are continuing the development of the prototype and starting test bed work.  The largely end user-driven OPA Forum focuses on developing a standards-based, open, secure, interoperable process control architecture that helps address both technical and business issues for process automation.  

Mr. Houk discussed the constraints of current DCS architectures.  These include continued use of proprietary hardware, networks, and interfaces; shortage of built-in security; high-cost and limited access to latest computing power and applications; and vendor-controlled software access.  The OPA reference architecture, in contrast, provides industry-standard interfaces; interoperable hardware; best-in-class components; built-in security; open software access; etc. Mr. Houk spoke about the enablers and drivers of change, such as the Industrial IoT, cybersecurity innovations, cloud services, greater integration of IT and OT; and proven success of this general approach in industries such as avionics and telecommunications. Further, he explained the objectives and approach of the ExxonMobil-Lockheed Martin proof-of-concept. He explained the process, challenges, and deployment in a step-wise manner; and stressed the importance of collaboration among partners.

Digital Transformation Council

Sal Spada, Research Director, ARC Advisory Group gave the next presentation. He spoke about ARC’s Digital Transformation Council where users collaborate and interact throughout the year; attend webinars, workshops and events; and have access to ARC’s research reports. Mr. Spada said that the expectations of the transformational benefits of digitalization include higher customer satisfaction, increased business agility, competitive advantage, innovative products and services, and continuous improvement. But he noted the apparent disconnect between desire and sustainable success.

Research shows that while 80 percent of companies undertake the journey, only about 11 percent succeed. The common missteps are: possibilities without direction; pursuit of technology without evaluating need and efficacy; and managing cultural impediments.  Mr. Spada said that cultural resistance/impediments can be overcome by creating a “connective tissue” between strategy and tactics. 

Industry 4.0 and Smart Cities in India

Taking this further, Rajashekhar Malur, Chief Technology Officer, Tata Consulting Engineers spoke about driving Industry 4.0 applications in Indian industries.  He mentioned that the company traditionally focused on three verticals – infrastructure, power, and resources, with service offerings “from concept  to commissioning and beyond.”  However, with the advent of Industry 4.0, the company has now set up an Advanced Technologies business unit that cuts across the traditional business verticals. An IIoT lab has been set up at the company’s Airoli facility in Navi Mumbai to demonstrate simulations, showcase capabilities, and help alter approaches and mindsets. He provided case studies of digitalization in refineries, a petrochemical plant, steel plant, and a power plant, citing the challenges, objectives, and quantifiable benefits.

Mr. Malur said that the company is involved in the development of 14 smart cities in India.  Key components of a smart city include water and wastewater management; green streets that help percolation of storm water; renewable energy; energy conservation and energy efficiency; EV charging infrastructure; smart bins; waste segregation at source; e-toilets; waste-to-energy, etc.

Strategies to Achieve Digital Transformation

In the session following the tea break, Sameer Prakash, Head-Digital Enterprise at Siemens discussed the company’s approach to digital transformation. Manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to improve speed, flexibility, quality, and efficiency levels; simultaneously ensuring health, safety, and environmental issues. He gave examples and case studies of Siemens’ solutions to increase flexibility, productivity, and efficiency across industries, such as chemicals, aerospace, and machine building. He went on to talk about Siemens’ Digital Enterprise, which provides end-to-end solutions for process and discrete industries.

According to Mr. Prakash, Siemens’ holistic security concept – Defense in Depth – ensures highest protection standards. In this context he spoke about end-to-end solutions for all industries: numerous starting possibilities, brownfield or greenfield, and standardized and open interfaces.   

Later he spoke about the digital twin that merges the virtual with the real world to optimize operations and provided related customer success stories.  

Corroborating this, Anne-Marie Walters, Industry Marketing Director, Process & Resources, Bentley Systems spoke about creating, managing, and leveraging digital twins.  She explained that a digital twin is the physical representation of a physical asset, process or system and is continuously monitored and surveyed to generate insights.  In this context, she spoke about the convergence of IT/OT/ET to deliver results and showed the digital twin workflows.  Ms. Walters spoke about reality modeling and how Bentley’s solutions and tools have been deployed effectively. The videos of the winners of the  2018 Year in Infrastructure hosted in London showcased Bentley’s digital solutions across industries.

Further, she spoke about Bentley’s collaboration with Siemens and their joint digital product launches. Important announcements made at the 2018 Year in Infrastructure Conference include their integrated Asset Performance Solution (APM) for power plants; and PlantSight digital twin cloud services.

Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing

Next, Chris Hazlewood, Senior Manager, Promotion Section, Overseas Planning & Administration, Factory Automation Systems Division, Mitsubishi Electric spoke about the drivers and challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) in manufacturing.  He began with statistics and stressed that AI will not solve all problems because it is only as good as it is taught and thus not infallible.  He said there are many myths and uncertainties (like job risk) about AI and its efficacy, but the importance of human interaction cannot be undermined. A UN report states that there are more elderly people (705 million over 65 years of age) in the world than children (680 million under age 4). As life expectancy increases, there will be more older people in the workforce.  While this presents a challenge, the answer could be more automation. Mr. Hazlewood graphically showed the increase in industrial robots since 2016 as an analogy to AI in manufacturing.

In manufacturing, time is money and every millisecond counts. The balance is in favor of AI because of an aging population, traceability, production costs, etc. AI will be platform-based and a multitude of skills will exist at all levels, he said.  He provided examples to demonstrate the challenges, applications, and benefits – such as optimizing parameters.

Moving Towards the Digital Enterprise

Following lunch, several presentations highlighted some of the benefits of digitalization.

Analytics-enabled Leak Detection

The post-lunch session began with a presentation on the use of predictive analytics for detecting tube leakages in steam generators by Dr. Tomasz Kaminski, Project Director, System Technologies Division, STEAG Energy Services GmbH.  The main reasons for tube leakages are: overheating, defective welds, erosion, internal corrosion etc. He commented that the standard acoustic approach for detecting leaks presents many challenges for operators.  These include false alarms, time-consuming checks by experts, and consequential delays and damages.  Dr. Kaminski showcased the efficacy of ALMA, the company’s advanced leak monitoring and alerting tool. He provided three cases studies to substantiate the quantifiable benefits of  using ALMA predictive analytics to detect and warn operators about leaks.

Industrial IoT and Industry 4.0

Next, Sudheesh Narayanan, MD & CEO, Knowledge Lens spoke about Industrial IoT reimagined and restructured in Industry 4.0. He gave a brief overview of the company and its achievements.  Highlighting the business value of iLens, he said that it provides a centralized platform for smart integration of devices, energy monitoring, industrial safety and security, augmented reality, predictive analytics, and so on. He explained the reference architecture and said that IoT opportunities exist at multiple levels.  According to Mr. Narayanan, the company’s IoT solutions are widely used both by public and private organizations. A case study gave insight into how iLens provided connectivity and centralized data management in a cement plant in India.

Digitalization in the Power Sector

Peter Saddington, Business Development Lead, Enerlytics – Uniper Energy’s presentation was on digital retrofits for power plant efficiencies. He said that the company operates in over 40 countries worldwide with operational areas in power generation; commodity trading; and energy storage, sales and services. He explained the challenges of tapping renewable sources of energy and how Uniper’s expertise and digital solutions can help combat this.  Digitalization is integral to the commercial delivery of safe, flexible operations, he said.  The Enerlytics IIoT platform integrates the various clusters and covers a range of functionalities and tools that converge in a centralized dashboard for synchronized plant operations.  According to Mr. Saddington, the savings achievable once the tool is operational can more than compensate for the costs of setting up and running it.  The key benefits of adopting a digital retrofit are: reduced outages and overall expenditures; fuel savings; and efficiency gains.  He showcased all these aspects via case studies.

Advanced Automation Control Solutions

The last speaker in this session, Sheetal Paralikar, Manager, Business Development, Siemens, spoke about advanced automation control solutions for industry and cities.  She explained that speed, flexibility, quality, and efficiency built on a foundation of security are required to overcome challenges in all sectors. Integrating and digitalizing the entire value chain is key to remaining competitive. Speaking about the digital twin, Ms. Paralikar said that it provides continuous feedback of product, production, and performance to optimize operations. Siemens’ portfolio offers virtual commission solution scenarios at all analysis levels; this was demonstrated through case studies. Ms. Paralikar elaborated further on edge computing and how centralized management of edge devices saves IT infrastructure costs; it can also act as a smart bridge to leverage OT/IT.  In future, plant flexibility will improve with continuous updates, she said.

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Keywords: India Forum, Digital Transformation, Sponsors, Digital Twin, Industry 4.0, Industrial IoT, IT/OT/ET, ARC Advisory Group. 

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