L&T Technology Services (LTTS) is a global leader in Engineering and R&D services. With 525 patents filed for 53 of the Global Top 100 ER&D spenders, LTTS revolves around engineering.
Prabhakar Shetty is the Global Head of Manufacturing Services at LTTS. Having joined the organisation in 2017, Prabhakar oversees the digital led initiatives across verticals including Industry 4.0, smart cities and digital manufacturing, managing PLM, manufacturing operations, asset management, content management and engineering managed services. With more than 30 years of international experience across industry verticals, Shetty has been one of the key industry leaders who has played an active role in the rise of digitalisation in manufacturing.
“If you look two decades back, most of the industries were looking at process improvements with the whole idea centered around globalisation and ensuring that processes were as efficient and as lean as possible,” says Shetty. “The ensuing ERP phase saw the collaboration of customer management, human resource, business intelligence, financial management, inventory and supply chain capabilities into one system. This helped to bring together customer management, human resources, business intelligence, financial management, inventory, and supply chain capabilities into one system. When the volume of business grew and it became much more global, it gave birth to niche interventions around functions like sourcing, supply chain, CRM, planning etc. Companies like i2 evolved solutions which clearly defined outcomes of core processes.
“In the current environment, we have highly complex and intelligent products and systems that can talk to each other while generating huge amounts of data. I believe a massive technological shift is underway. But the question revolves around how to harness the data coming out of the shop floor, products and various collaborative functions.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption across industries worldwide. Shetty believes it has highlighted the importance of planning and mitigating against situations that are deemed improbable in the past.
“Considerations for business continuity planning are usually for predictable and foreseeable threats to normal working” explains Shetty. “This could be transportation, supplier disruptions or power issues and these events are easier to anticipate. However, COVID-19 has shown how important planning is.”
“It’s important to break down your business into different nodes, for each of those nodes assess the failure of the impact from two standpoints: the financial and operational. Based on that you plan for remedial actions if any of these nodes to go down. You also need to have a crisis management team to act on these and identify the risk associated.”
Shetty affirms that it is important to be agile and proactive in order to succeed in an environment that is continuously changing as a result of the pandemic. “Nobody could have foreseen this and it meant that any reactions were knee-jerk and clearly caused major disruption across the entire supply chain,” explains Shetty. “It’s important to ask yourself: as a services company how can you help customers at a time like this? There’s no precedent or framework for this type of situation.”
“We launched a program called F.R.U.G.AL based on flexible, remote and agile methodologies. Rapid transformations were expected across functions like product design, manufacturing, sales, and service. For example it’s key to have design flexibility because your original product might not sell and you may have to change components or even the whole product. During the pandemic, you’ve seen automotive companies that wouldn’t usually offer medical supplies delve into that market to produce ventilators, for example.
“It’s also important to consider manufacturing operation flexibility and how you can quickly transition from one product to another. How can you repurpose your manufacturing lines? If you have a demand spike, how do you look at line expansion? If certain components are not available how do you quickly train your workforce to work with alternates. These are all important considerations.”
Cloud is also a key area and Shetty explains how the coronavirus is forcing manufacturers to rethink their overall cloud strategy.
“There are a few elements you need to be aware of with cloud because how you use and consume technology will significantly change. Implementation models will be different because we can’t afford five-month consulting studies & then do a long drawn implementation or rollouts – we need something that’s ready now.
“This means that most of the applications on the cloud need to be pre-built. We feel that the cloud system architecture will be divided into four or five layers. You have the foundation processes layer that generates data, the technology layer where all enterprise applications reside, the experience layer where the user will be interacting with the system, and then cognition. The outcome of analytics is critical. But a wider view across these 5 elements is critical.”
With the importance of developing key, strategic partnerships in mind, Shetty highlights that it’s impossible to work in silos and meet changing market demands.
“When you look at the value chain today, what is impacting it the most? It’s a rapidly changing business model and there are lots of new technologies being introduced and you can’t do everything yourself,” says Shetty.
“You need to have various ecosystem partners and traditionally people thought that partners meant only technology partners. Today’s customers want one entity who can look after the entire value chain. It can be multiple players who can add to the big picture. But all these partners should be aligned to the end goal of the value chain to serve customers to meet their business objectives.”
Looking to the future, Shetty believes that digitalisation will continue to transform the manufacturing industry and play an influential role. “In the last five years, technology has enabled transformation around us. It has become cheaper and customers have become more agile to adopt & leverage the latest tech. Products have become complex because you have different elements in today's intelligent products. With a complex ecosystem, it’s important you have versatile skillsets across the board. LTTS has brought together lots of partners to create an ecosystem of excellence which can help build value-added solutions to end customers to transform their business model.”