Editorial Articles

Volume-49, 3-9 March, 2018


Industry 4.0- Leapfrog Opportunity for India 

Industry 4.0 is one of the major drivers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The first industrial revolution was triggered by water and steam power to move from human labour to mechanical manufacturing. The second industrial revolution built on electric power to create mass production. The third used electronics and information technology to automate manufacturing. The fourth is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.

Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution as it is called, is emerging globally as a powerful force and is being touted as the next industrial revolution. It is characterized by the increasing digitization and interconnection of products, value chains and business models. Industry 4.0 is driven by an amalgamation of emerging technologies like data volumes, computational power, Internet of Things (IoT), business analytics, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, elemental design, simulation, advanced robotics, additive manufacturing, sensor based technologies and cyber-physical systems. Industry 4.0 would mean the convergence of real and virtual worlds - the next phase in bringing together conventional and modern technologies in manufacturing. This will result in the "Smart Factory", which is characterized by versatility, resource efficiency, ergonomic design and direct integration with business partners.

Industry 4.0, to put it briefly, is a mélange of many futuristic and advanced concepts and technologies which have the potential of transforming the production scenario in the 21st century mainly comprising of a 'connected shop floor' where data is collected from various sensors and other input devices to be used for predictive maintenance, better control and long-term analysis.


Manufacturing today is cutting edge and requires a high level of skill. Today, the global manufacturing sector is undergoing a structural transformation. Though India banks heavily on its Service Sector for growth, the Manufacturing Sector needs to play a significant role in the Indian economy. Manufacturing now needs to fuel the high growth in India. Hon'ble Prime Minister of India, launched the 'Make in India' program to place India on the world map as a manufacturing hub. The Manufacturing Sector especially MSMEs play a pivotal role in the Indian economy and provide the largest share of employment after agriculture. In order to converge the aims of growth with employment it is important to increase the share of manufacturing in the country's Gross Domestic Product from 16% to 25% by 2022 and to create 100 million additional jobs by 2022.

Digital connectivity forms the backbone for adoption of advanced technologies. With increasing penetration of the internet in India and emergence of e-Commerce, presence of enterprises on the internet has become inevitable. Ensuring comprehensive broadband connectivity in industrial clusters, Government of India has launched Digital India Programme with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

Smart Factory may be characterised in terms of flexible systems and machines, distribution of functions throughout the network, communication/interaction among all participants across hierarchy, self-optimization and autonomous decision-making. Digital technologies allow for new business models and value-producing opportunities, and are attainable for most developing countries.


To understand how the industrial workforce will evolve with Industry 4.0, the hypothetically effect of these new technologies on the manufacturing landscape was assessed. It was found that by adopting Industry 4.0, manufacturers will be able to increase their competitiveness, which will enable them to expand their industrial workforce at the same time that productivity increases. As production becomes more capital intensive, the labor cost advantages of traditional low-cost locations will shrink, making it attractive for manufacturers to bring previously offshored jobs back home. The adoption of Industry 4.0 will also allow manufacturers to create new jobs to meet the higher demand resulting from the growth of existing markets and the introduction of new products and services. This favorable scenario contrasts with previous eras of technological advancement, during which the number of manufacturing jobs declined despite an increase in overall production volume. As per BCG report, the following impacts of Industry 4.0 on workforce are anticipated:

Big-Data-Driven Quality Control:  The application of big data in manufacturing will reduce the number of workers specializing in quality control, while increasing the demand for industrial data scientists.

Robot-Assisted Production: Such advancements will significantly reduce the amount of manual labor in production operations, such as assembly and packaging, but create a new job-robot coordinator.

Self-Driving Logistics Vehicles. A food and beverage manufacturer has deployed automated transportation systems that navigate intelligently and independently within its factory, thereby reducing the need for logistics personnel. However, it will increase the demand for technical designers.

Production Line Simulation. A consumer products manufacturer uses innovative software to simulate production lines prior to installation and applies the insights to optimize operations. Implementation of this technology will increase the demand for industrial engineers and simulation experts.

Smart Supply Network. The use of technology to monitor its entire supply network, will enable better supply decisions. This application of technology will reduce the number of jobs in operations planning, while creating demand for supply chain coordinators to handle deliveries in smaller lot sizes.

Predictive Maintenance. Monitoring and sensor technologies will allow manufacturers to repair equipment before breakdowns occur and will foster a significant increase in jobs associated with system design, IT, and data science. These advancements will also create a new job-digitally assisted field-service engineers-while reducing demand for traditional service technicians.

Machines as a Service. The companies may provide services like compressed air, cooking gas, etc. directly to its consumer through installed machines at a client's site. It will reduce the demand for suppliers whereas foster the job growth in production and service as well as  this business model requires manufacturers to expand their sales force.

Self-Organizing Production. The company may develop automatic coordination among production lines to optimize the utilization of each asset. Although the use of this type of automation will reduce the demand for workers in production planning, it will increase the demand for specialists in data modelling and interpretation.

Additive Manufacturing of Complex Parts. Techniques such as selective laser sintering and 3-D printing enable manufacturers to create complex parts in one step, eliminating the need for assembly and inventories of individual parts. New jobs in 3-D computer-aided design and 3-D modeling are being created in R&D and engineering, while jobs are being lost in parts assembly.

Augmented Work, Maintenance, and Service. By technology like augmented-reality glasses, the company can see dispatch information and navigation instructions, including the exact location of an item on a shelf, and to automatically scan bar codes. The system is also designed to enable remote assistance with basic maintenance tasks and provide customer-specific packaging instructions. The use of augmented reality is significantly increasing process efficiency for service technicians, while requiring companies to build extensive new capabilities in R&D, IT, and digital assistance systems.

A greater use of robotics and computerization will reduce the number of jobs in assembly and production. However, this decline will be more than offset by the creation of new jobs. The job gains will result from demand for highly skilled workers in IT, analytics, and R&D roles, as well as the creation of new jobs resulting from the types of revenue growth opportunities.


Industry 4.0 will foster significant changes in how industrial workers perform their jobs, and entirely new job families will be created while others become obsolete. Although the extent to which Industry 4.0, especially robotics, will replace human labor remains a matter of debate among experts, we found universal agreement that manufacturers will increasingly use robotics and other advancements to assist workers. Some experts argue against the notion that all manufacturing jobs can be automated. However, it is presumed that complete automation is not realistic. Technology will mainly increase productivity through physical and digital assistance systems, not the replacement of human labor." The increased  use of assistance systems means that the qualitative changes brought about by Industry 4.0 will likely be positive for the workforce. The number  of physically demanding or routine jobs will decrease, while the number of jobs requiring flexible responses, problem solving, and customization will increase.

To perform effectively with Industry 4.0, workers will need to apply a variety of "hard" skills. They will have to combine know-how related to a specific job or process, such as techniques for working with robots or changing tools on machines, with IT competencies that range from basic (using spreadsheets and accessing interfaces) to advanced (applying advanced programming and analytics skills). The need for multiple hard skills and the unprecedented scope of changes on the shop floor mean that "soft" skills will become more important than ever. Employees will have to be even more open to change, possess greater flexibility to adapt to new roles and work environments, and get accustomed to continual interdisciplinary learning.


There are many challenges which have to be addressed in order to successful adoption of advanced technologies and realization of Industry 4.0 potential. Few key challenges are given below:

*Lack of a clear digital vision.

*A lack of data analytical capabilities.

*Fostering a strong digital culture.

*Level of digitization

*Data Security

*The major risk with recording, storage and analysis of large volumes of customer data is the inappropriate use of the said data

*Lack of standardization

*Though concepts like sharing of data and integration of technology are not new, however lack of standards or rather prevalence of proprietary standards is going to be a key roadblock



The organization need to upscale their competitiveness by selecting and adopting the technologies of I 4.0 from the following list based on the relevance, cost-effectiveness, and impact on productivity enhancement:

*Additive Manufacturing - 3D Printing


*Robots (auto + co-bots)


*Augmented reality

*Cloud Computing

*Big Data and Analytics

*Industrial Internet


*Horizontal and vertical integration

By adopting the need based technology, the manufacturing units can reap one or more of  the following advantages of Industry 4.0:

*Lower Cost

*Additional Revenue

*Enabling Industrial Companies to optimize customer relationship.

*Transparency in the production process

*Clarity on the status of all aspects of production system in real time

*Industrial companies that successfully implement Industry 4.0 no longer need to choose between focusing on a better top or bottom line.  They can improve both at the same time.

*Logistics processes becomes leaner

*Reduced inventories

*Maintenance processes standardization

*100% traceability


To benefit from Industry 4.0 and win against global competition, it is necessary to integrate the principles of Industry 4.0 with the 'Make in India' initiative.  "Make in India" initiative is more broad-based idea to encourage multi-national, as well as national companies to manufacture their products in India. Government is focusing more on enabling policies and improving infrastructure for certain key Sectors.

India is uniquely advantaged in scalable digital technologies. In financial services, it is building a unique, first-of-its-kind digital stack (known as the "India Stack") with Aadhaar, Jan Dhan accounts and various payment technologies such as UPI and the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System. This scalable platform offers an opportunity to develop innovative services not just for the Indian customer but can easily be modified to offer similar services to global customers. Developing and deploying these 'technology stacks' across well-penetrated service sectors like construction, under-penetrated sectors like health or nascent sectors like urban management services can deliver not just economic growth but millions of new jobs.

National Productivity Council, New Delhi has been designated by the Asian Productivity Organisation (APO) as a Centre of Excellence on IT for Industry 4.0 (CoE: IT for I 4.0)". The scope of CoE is to function as a knowledge centre for the entrepreneurs, start-ups regarding concepts of information technology and its application in Industry, to disseminate this knowledge through workshops, lectures and training programmes, to facilitate display of latest technology/ demonstration projects for helping the new start-ups, etc.

In this scenario, the Centre of Excellence (CoE) can be very effective in collection of information, development & dissemination of knowledge/ information, facilitation in capacity building of industries in coordination with various stakeholders. This will result in the "smart factory", which is characterized by versatility, resource efficiency, ergonomic design and direct integration with business partners.

India must proceed on a different development journey, which accounts for different global circumstances and leverages India's strengths. Our hypothesis is that digital technologies will power mass services just like industrial technologies powered mass manufacturing.

Various initiatives are being undertaken by Government of India and other stakeholders in order to realize successful adoption of smart manufacturing concept which will expedite the process of achieving goals of "Make in India". There is no doubt Industry 4.0 is a leapfrog opportunity for India to become hopefully the first large economy in the digital 21st century.

(Courtesy : National Productivity Council; You may further obtain guidance and support to modernize your industry by writing to Director General, National Productivity Council, 5-6, Institutional Area, Lodhi Road, New Delhi - 110003, Email: dg.npc@npcindia.gov.in)