Saj Kumar is Vice President, Discrete Manufacturing, SAP Asia Pacific Japan. As Vice President with the Industries & Solutions Group (ISG) at SAP Asia Pacific Japan, Mr Kumar holds responsibility for defining and developing SAP’s business strategy for Discrete Industries in Asia Pacific, as well as driving the development and adoption of industry specific solutions for SAP’s strategic customers in this segment. This includes companies
in ‘High-Tech’ sectors, Automotive and Industrial Machinery.
Mr Kumar is an industry veteran, starting his career over 20 years ago working with simulation systems. He has many years of direct experience designing and implementing supply chain solutions in the manufacturing industry and has a keen interest in applying constraint-based planning techniques to solve complex manufacturing problems. He is passionate about software applications and their role in solving real-world engineering problems.
Saj Kumar brings a wealth of experience to SAP from his previous roles at Oracle and i2 Technologies, where he held various customer-facing and solutions management roles.
Consumerisation (using consumer communication devices at work) is now permeating all industries at all levels, from top floor to shop floor, empowering employees with up-to-the-minute information accessed on the spot, wherever it is needed. This brings some security risks, for example - to sensitive data stored on lost or stolen devices. However, workforce mobility brings higher productivity, enables moving from preventive to collaborative maintenance and provides real-time business visibility. Issues can be raised and decisions communicated within minutes, helping to reshape the entire manufacturing process. In fact, new processes, indeed new business, can be based on this new paradigm.
With the rising pervasiveness of tablets in 2011, mobility is changing the way we operate today at two levels: personal consumers and corporations. In the not too distant past, we had Mobility 1.0, which brought us the ability to extend the enterprise – to create a mobile organisation where field sales and services were enabled off-site. Previously desk-bound employees were able to work remotely too, but this was largely restricted to email access through the use of PCs.
The advent of mobile convergence brought us smart phones and with that, access was available anytime, anywhere. Then with tablets came a whole new explosion of applications generated both for consumers and for businesses. Desktop virtualisation has also spawned a new culture. Emerging mobility trends in companies today include the acceptance of employee-owned devices in the workplace. In fact, with the rise of IT consumerisation, companies are starting to recognise that by allowing employees to bring in their own choice of devices, they are not only creating a flexible workplace and culture, but also able to significantly reduced IT hardware costs.
Mobility 2.0 has brought about the transformation of enterprises. The way companies sell, market, operate and innovate is set to change. Mobility has spawned new industries and new markets and its pervasiveness is extending across multiple industries from banking, utilities and logistics through to manufacturing and retail.
At a very basic level today, the consumer at a bank is now able to use their mobile devices to not only log in and perform transactions, but also as added security devices. Logistics companies can use the device to track and trace their shipments and street level routing. Smart meters are used by utilities companies for remote reporting, while manufacturers can operate better with visibility across the manufacturing value chain.
At another level, it has also extended across the entire ecosystem of consumers through to business users. Top level executives today recognize that the way we operate today can only move forward. To truly embrace mobility across their organization and its value chain, they need to put together a mobile strategy. For complex manufacturing organisations, this is all the more important, as the top-down drive to design a mobile strategy has to do with every level– from point of procurement and manufacturing to distribution. Importantly, manufacturers are constantly faced with fierce competition and cost pressures, coupled with consumer demands and the need for innovation and adaptive manufacturing processes.
If we look into what manufacturers are working towards – it is building the Perfect Plant. In the Perfect Plant you have visibility of all operations including production performance and your assets, providing a 360 degree view of your operations. This visibility of your plants provides the ability to respond faster to operational issues and minimise impact to your business and bottom line.
With mobility, the entire process is accelerated, from planning to execution and through to asset management – this makes it more adaptive and nimble, enabling plants to operate better.
First, let us look at asset management. Equipment downtime is critical to a manufacturing operation. Plant managers need timely and accurate information on asset performance. With the right information, they will be able to move from “preventive maintenance” to “collaborative maintenance” and improve asset performance and utilisation, reduce downtime, ensure parts availability and importantly - improve assets efficiency. By making plant workers and technicians mobile, manufacturers are allowing real-time visibility and information to flow across the operations. Precious time is cut out of the process by enabling field workers to access parts information and availability, asset performance history and reports, warranty information, etc. Mobile plant workers are now able to access and react to issues within minutes instead of days or hours. With higher asset performance, cost savings of millions can be realised.
With lesser disruption due to equipment failure, and with enhanced asset performance, this improvement in turn leads to on-time delivery and reduced variability in operations scheduling. With mobility offering real-time visibility and control of your manufacturing process, decisions can now be made and communicated from the top floor to shop floor within seconds. Changes can be communicated in real-time, resulting in adaptive manufacturing process and reduced costs. With this, manufacturers can afford to be more innovative and can focus on increasing brand value. Mobility provides them with one of the most coveted assets for competitive advantage – the time to innovate.
Having recognised the benefits of mobility in manufacturing, the flip side of the coin for most companies today is the need to justify this implementation, namely what is the return on investment for this? The key benefit of introducing mobility into manufacturers is increased productivity. Tangible benefits can be quickly calculated through efficiency improvement calculators that measure productivity at the rate of cycle times.
Another challenge and concern for management is security risks. Besides enabling their shop floor employees with mobile devices to drive better manufacturing processes, companies are also recognising the increased demand for employees to access enterprise information through their personal devices. There is a huge implication here, as security risks need to be mitigated and addressed. How do manufacturers ensure that in the event of phone loss, in which case corporate information may be compromised, that there are clear and swift measures in place to react and wipe that information out? This is where for mobility to be pervasive across the organisation, it is imperative that the management identifies clearly the objectives, calculate the return on investment, define the risks, and formulate a strategy that is readily adopted and embraced across the company.
When we look beyond the manufacturing operations and review the business landscape, the impact of mobility on manufacturers is also happening on a totally different level. As mentioned, we see new markets created from mobility. If we look at the high tech market, we are seeing an increased demand in tablets and smart phones. These are set to overtake the PC market and manufacturers are seeing the revenue growth for mobile devices increasing at a more rapid rate as compared to laptops and definitely, more than desktops.
The business shift towards creating a more mobile workforce has a direct correlation with the shaping of the next generation high tech industry. This is only the start, as other industries embrace high tech mobility and it becomes an integral part of their business. The convergence of high tech and automotive, for example, has resulted in automobile makers recognising that consumers require access for their mobile devices in the car. As mobility pervades, we will see an entire generation shift towards all industries changing the way they do business, and powering a much faster and efficient business environment.