Knowledge Lens, a relatively new company, participated as a Silver Sponsor at ARC’s India Forum, Driving Digital Transformation in Industry and Cities. As a first-time participant, the Forum provided an ideal opportunity for the company to showcase its offerings. Started in Bangalore five years ago with no external funding, the company’s vision is to build information technology products indigenously and provide gainful employment. Today, it has offices in the US and over 1,500 customers globally.
The company's focus is on accelerating actionable insights from enterprise data using artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data analytics, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain technologies. The presentation by Sudheesh Narayanan, MD & CEO of Knowledge Lens, provided the IT perspective of the Industry 4.0 journey and how it is helping the manufacturing sector.
Some of the key benefits of deploying IoT solutions:
- Seamless integration
- Operational transparency
- Centralized control
- Adaptability and flexibility
Business Value of IoT
Sharing his expertise and experience, Mr. Narayanan highlighted the business value and tangible benefits of leveraging IoT solutions through actual use cases. He opined that the market potential is huge. Although these solutions are gaining traction in the India market, there’s a lot of hype and apprehensions when it comes to actual implementation; but in the US these solutions have proven effective, he said. In the India market, the cost component is the primary driver, which he believes creates reluctance to completely overhaul systems. For such customers, the company suggests moving to Industry 4.0 in incremental steps.
In the past, proprietary systems dictated how industries monitored their emission standards and norms; and large companies dominated and controlled that area. To remove these constraints, Knowledge Lens built an open platform for environment monitoring and democratized that space by integrating disparate systems on a single platform. This has been a game changer, said Mr. Narayanan and has been deployed in the Delhi and NCR region (National Capital Region, which encompasses Delhi and urban areas of neighboring states: Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan) for effective air quality management. This system provides centralized control and actionable information. Pollution levels have yet to come under control, but action is being taken in this direction, he said.
Importance of Deploying IoT Solutions
Further, he explained the key features to look for when investing in an IoT platform; summarizing these into eight themes and explaining the importance of each.
Mr. Narayanan said that most of these data are already available, they just need to be unlocked and made “smart.” Smart remote monitoring is part of the same connectivity game. Explaining this, he spoke about how in a factory’s control room, ten people could be watching the screen and often make just a few phone calls. He believes this is a waste of manpower and the same could be done more efficiently through a remote monitoring system. Abroad, such systems are already in use; but in India there is no shortage of manpower and labor is comparatively less expensive, so he believes there is less urgency to deploy such technologies. But the scenario is changing as wages are coming on par with other countries, he said. Recently, the airport in Bangalore revamped its security system and now runs on AI-based detection. But, in the domestic terminal, which has not yet been upgraded, there are personnel looking at the screen. Mr. Narayanan believes that a central control room would reduce manpower requirements and enhance efficiency.
Taking the same paradigm to industry, Mr. Narayanan said that if five plants are being operated from five different command centers, they can be brought together on one single platform with an AI-based alerting system. People will be required for some operations, but at least 40 percent of the operations could be controlled remotely.
Safety and Security
Industrial safety and security have become increasingly important in a connected world, he said. Leveraging AI to protect industrial assets or in hazardous areas where the presence of a human being might be dangerous is gaining widespread acceptance.
The company is now building an augmented reality app to enable engineers to monitor and troubleshoot remotely to help to reduce costs. Giving the example of a motor, he explained how via remote control the technician could be guided to open and fix it to operate heavy on-site machinery.
Next, he spoke about what he referred to as “opaque” historians, which are not of much use to anyone. What is needed is a live historian to analyze data, and enable decision making, he said. In two local industries, KL has:
- Brought the historian online, capturing 15-20 years of data, with AI models layered on it
- Replaced the historian and provided a digital data link
Anomaly detection and predictive maintenance are other areas of concern on the Industry 4.0 journey. He explained that many of the solutions suppliers currently provide to detect impending turbine or bearing failures are of value, but are often like digital silos that don’t scale up well. Hence, a platform is needed to converge these pointed solutions and create a digital asset; this amplifies the value and reduces total cost of ownership. He also spoke about how web-based SCADA for real-time alerts and vision analytics help in the entire process of moving toward the cognitive enterprise.
Through a reference architecture, Mr. Narayanan explained how siloed systems are now coming together to streamline processes, improve productivity, and reduce time-to-market. Previously, the IT and OT domains operated in different orbits, but now there is increasing convergence, he said.
Mr. Narayanan concluded his presentation with a case study of a leading cement plant in India. The company deployed iLens, an Intelligent Industrial IoT solution. This provided:
- A centralized, real-time platform for operators to monitor accurate voltage, current, rpm, temperature, weight etc. for consumption and forecasting
- Smart integration with PLCs with plug-and-play protocol support for data fetch
- A high scalability, in-memory platform to crunch ingested data
- A digital dashboard with live monitoring at various levels
Through his presentation and interesting case studies, Mr. Narayanan showcased how digitalization can be done in gradual, incremental steps. Knowledge Lens is providing solutions both to the public and private sectors, including projects with the Government of India. The company was awarded the NASSCOM Emerge 50 Product (2016-2017); and in 2017 was ranked as one of the top 20 most promising Big Data solution providers by CIO Review. For a company that started out just five years ago, it has made significant inroads into this space and appears to be making valuable contribution to industrial growth.
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Keywords: Knowledge Lens, Industry 4.0, IT/OT, Digital Asset, iLens, ARC India Forum, ARC Advisory Group.