India On A Very Strong Growth Trajectory Towards Industry 4.0

Sudheesh Narayanan is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Knowledge Lens. He is the forerunner of Knowledge Lens and is the brain-child behind the company's technology, products, and business strategy. With over 20 years of hands-on experience in Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Cloud Platform Management, PaaS product development, and technical expertise in Spark, Hadoop, and HBase, Sudheesh has enabled Cloud and Big Data adoption within several enterprises. He has conceptualized and built multiple products in Big Data, Cloud, and IoT including GLens, MLens, and Fluxa. Prior to starting Knowledge Lens, he has held several senior roles and one among them is his role as the Chief Architect at Infosys, where he was responsible for conceptualizing and developing the BigDataEdge platform for the company. Additionally, Sudheesh has worked with leading brands like Huwaei, and Larsen & Turbo Limited. An industry thought leader and innovator in the IoT space, Sudheesh is the author of `Securing Hadoop' book.

In a detailed discussion with the StartupCity Team Sudesh speaks to us about his experiences and the way forward for the Indian manufacturing sector.

Being the founder and CEO of Knowledge Lens for the past 7 years ­ how has your journey been so far. Please elaborate on your experience.
Knowledge Lens is a digital acceleration product company delivering measurable business value to clients through actionable business insights by leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industrial IoT & Big Data Analytics. Without any external funding, Knowledge Lens is in its eighth successful year. We have accelerated business transformation for 3000+ customers worldwide, including several Fortune 500 companies in India and the US.

We have successfully transformed companies into Smart Enterprises by implementing Next Generation Enterprise and Manufacturing Data Lakes, AI Powered Intelligent Apps, Industry 4.0 solutions and Sustainability Cloud for Enterprises. In addition, our strong partner-ships with industry leaders such as Microsoft, Intel, Databricks, and Informatica has accelerated digital trans-formation for many of our customers.

Our journey has been exciting so far. At the core of our DNA is building trust, gaining customer loyalty, and our mission is to impact the overall society at large. Moreover, we have had a successful growth rate that has doubled year-on-year. Our business model is entirely self-sustained, with absolutely no dependency on VC funding and this model has proven to be revenue-generating and profitable for us because of our tech-driven and employee-first approach. Our focused RnD efforts has helped us build innovative products from India. Time and again, we have pivoted our brand strategy to create a long-term impact for the country and society at large.

Looking at the current state of manufacturing industry ­ where does India stand and what do you think should be done to reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 or where does India stand in terms of achieving its journey of Industry 4.0?
Owing to the pandemic, we have been seen some traction in the Industry 4.0 space. India has been on a very strong growth trajectory towards Industry 4.0. The drive can be attributed to three major factors namely:

a) The importance of digital trans-formation has been well received by the manufacturers. By digitizing the shop floors, eliminating the paper processes, and increasing the digital knowledge base, manufacturers can receive various short and long term benefits such as enhanced operational efficiency, error eliminations, among others. The pandemic has just accelerated this thought process across all Industries.

b) Manufacturers who started experimenting on Industry 4.0 has started seeing the business value and now has started realizing that this is absolute must for scalability, long term sustainability and unifying human and machine intelligence. So more focused digital initiatives have started.

c) Government has given certain incentives that has boosted the morale of the manufacturers and at the same time has created a favorable environment for India to become a manufacturing hub.

We have seen that after government of India has given favorable incentives for the manufacturers there is an immediate need for capacity expansion. In order to bring down the costs, manufacturers have to operate in a large scale to produce quality products in the market

However, an important point to note here is that there has to be an increased push towards capacity expansion. We have seen that after Government of India has given favorable incentives for the manufacturers there is an immediate need for capacity expansion. In order to bring down the costs, manufacturers have to operate in a large scale to produce quality products in the market. Quality improvement driven by AI and other emerging technology has to be the focus. There is also an in-creased trend towards sustainable/eco-friendly manufacturing that is being driven by technology interventions. I believe that India is going to witness an increased growth towards Industry 4.0 driven by technological advancements.

How Industrial IoT (IIoT) can play a crucial role to fast track Make in India' initiative by the Government?
I believe that emerging technologies like AI and IoT are the key pillars that can drive cost effective, high quality, and scalable manufacturing operations. To realize the full potential and benefits of "Make in India" initiative, there is a need for manufactures to adopt the latest technology advancements to drive digital growth. Digital Transformation is the only way any manufacturer could sustain profitable operations thereby making "Make in India" successful. Our theme has been "Unifying human and machine intelligence for smart connected operations will only enable scalable, sustainable manufacturing process in the long run".

Can you share an example of a customer success story where the deployment of IIoT has benefitted them in terms of automation?
One of our customers in the Chemical Manufacturing space took up building their Manufacturing Data Lake as a foundation for their Industry 4.0 journey. The manufacturer can now see a significant change in the overall efficiency whereas earlier, the Manual Logbooks, Batch records where completely paper driven, ERP systems had data consistency issues and hence the overall production cost per ton of material produced was very unpredictable.

The maintenance schedules were excel sheet driven and there wasn't an accurate system for identifying actual maintenance performed. With the deployment of our premier Industry 4.0 solutioniLens, we have unified machine intelligence, human intelligence, and digitized the entire manufacturing process that has resulted into an overall improvement in the productivity by 13%, over-all equipment efficiency improvement by 7% with reduced downtime and better proactive maintenance. Management visibility has improved drastically and every process is now visible centrally. This has resulted in overall yield improvement by 5% in a short time just by making a few process changes.

With the second wave of COVID-19 all around us, what is your advice to the start-up community to navigate through this tough time?
Every challenge/crisis brings forth opportunities and startups that understand the new definition of `normal' will try to bring out the best by grasping these opportunities. Traditional models of innovations might not work so being agile and able to adopt quickly to the changing business scenarios is must. Develop a business model that is agile and profitable that can sustain through any tough times. De-risking should be part of the fundamental decision making process. Not all bets are going to be successful but at the same time in a de-risked model all bets wont fail at the same time as well. Thus being agile, adopting to the market, sticking to the fundamentals, customer focus approach, and doing the right thing is the key message which I would give to any entrepreneur out there.