Smart Manufacturing & Factories of the Future at Hitachi

Vignesh M. is the Head of Manufacturing, CPG and Retail Industry Verticals for Hitachi Digital Services. Here, He Explores the Rise of Smart Manufacturing

In the modern world, children instantaneously take to technology. Whether that’s their Dad’s phone, Mum’s iPad or even Alexa, parents are quickly outpaced by their tech-savvy offspring, whose very entry to the world is often broadcast months prior to their birth. 

But for older generations, the memory of the first time they used a device is a clear and life-changing one. 

Since the first time he used a computer as a teenager, Vignesh has been passionate about the technology industry.

“The impact technology has had on society has been a huge motivation for me throughout my career,” he says. “Social innovation focus at Hitachi allows me to explore this aspect of technology every day.”

Vignesh studied at Bharathiar University from 1995 to 1999, where he earned a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science. He went straight onto work as a Software Engineer at Wipro Technologies, moving up to become General Manager of Manufacturing Business. 

Now, Vignesh is the Head of Manufacturing, CPG and Retail industry verticals for Hitachi Digital Services. He has spent the last 20 years helping discrete and process manufacturing customers solve their business problems, by leveraging technology. 

“Hitachi’s capabilities provide me and my team with the opportunity to work closely on both OT and IT technologies, thus enabling us to deliver business outcomes through IT-OT convergence,” says Vignesh.

Through a technology-unified operating model for cloud, data and IoT, Hitachi Digital Services delivers outcome driven end-to-end value creation for its clients. Built on Hitachi Group’s more than 110 years of innovation across industries,  the company helps to improve people’s lives today and is working hard to build a sustainable society for the future.

Through its 110 years of OT experience and 60 years of IT experience, Hitachi is in a unique position to enable the 4th industrial revolution through its smart manufacturing & IT-OT convergence capabilities. 

“Hitachi leverages cutting edge technologies, like Quantum annealing inspired CMOS annealing for solving complex supply chain problems or plant scheduling problems,” says Vignesh. “We use Industry cloud offerings that accelerate our clients digital transformation journeys, as well as HARC, which seamlessly allows clients to manage business process availability through site reliability and data reliability engineering practices.”

Smart manufacturing solutions and services

Being an OT company, Hitachi has always focussed on making products and services that will last for a long time and offer the best quality to consumers. Vignesh believes that this has only been made possible through industry leading manufacturing practices. 

“Hitachi’s Omika works factory is more than 50 years old and has been recognised as a Lighthouse factory by the World Economic Forum,” Vignesh explains. 

The World Economic Forum’s Global Lighthouse Network is a community of manufacturers who used advanced technologies to spread the adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to their industries across the world.

Each Lighthouse represents an industrial site which integrates new technologies, such as AI, to show other manufacturers how to better engage their workforces and lower any environmental damage caused, as well as encourage supply chain resilience.

“By integrating Fourth Industrial Revolution technology, lighthouses demonstrate how to scale advanced technology across entire manufacturing networks, going beyond suppliers and customers to include procurement, logistics, research and development," said Francisco Betti, Head of Global Industries, at the World Economic Forum. 

This recognition is clear proof for Hitachi’s smart manufacturing progress. 

“This strong foundation has helped Hitachi develop smart manufacturing solutions for our customers leveraging computer vision for plant safety, inventory management, broader supply chain and so on,” says Vignesh. 

Gen AI

Generative AI is used for issues in the skills gap, such as by developing guided modules to increase productivity of less experienced workers.

Machine Learning

AI and ML are combined for predictive maintenance models, while ML based models are used to solve optimisation problems in the supply chain, as well as plant scheduling and Industry cloud offering which allows customers to adopt many of Hitachi’s capabilities in a streamlined fashion. 

Factories of the Future and Hitachi

For decades, IT and OT organisations within most companies have been kept as two islands. Data from both IT and OT organisations has not been used to its true potential. Given this challenge, Factories of the Future will rely heavily on IT-OT convergence and creating a data fabric that allows organisations to seamlessly use data from IT and OT to serve customers, improve product quality, optimise supply chain and advance sustainability. 

“Hitachi Digital Services is focusing on IT-OT convergence to enable a data fabric that transcends IT and OT and allows organisations to achieve outcomes that are more holistic in nature, thereby becoming a factory of the future,” says Vignesh.

Over the next 12 months at Hitachi, Vignesh and his team are aware that manufacturing companies are likely to focus on acquiring more skilled employees and training them in newer skills, such as how to leverage AI in day-to-day operations and technology adoption, including automation and sustainable manufacturing processes. 

With its thorough change management, technology expertise and endorsement of sustainable practices, Hitachi is geared up to help customers adopt these changes seamlessly. 


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