Journey from auto hub to Industry 4.0 in Pune

Pune has now seen a strong move towards digitisation of mechanical industries as the manufacturing sector has adapted to Industry 4.0 — the next generation of manufacturing

Written by Partha Sarathi Biswas | Pune | Published: July 10, 2017 8:14 am
Pune IT Park, Pune Auto Hub, Pune Industry, Pune Tech Park, Pune News, Latest Pune News, Indian Express, Indian Express News IT parks at Magarpatta  (Express Photo)

PUNE is not new to industrialisation, but over the last 10 years or so both the nature as well as the scope of it has changed. What was once predominantly known for its strong automobile base has developed into an IT hub and of late is all set to become the financial start-up capital of the country. Pune has now seen a strong move towards digitisation of mechanical industries as the manufacturing sector has adapted to Industry 4.0 — the next generation of manufacturing.

Statistics

Barring the years of global slowdown, Pune’s industrial growth has seen a positive spiral. As per the district profile prepared by the directorate of economics and statistics, the district has always recorded a healthy 10-15 per cent year-on-year growth in all sectors. In 2006-7, the district had 3,785 registered factories, of which 2,418 were operational, providing employment to 2,05,021 people. Back then, the majority of industries catered to the manufacturing sector, with Information Technology (IT) and ITES (IT-enabled Services) making their strong presence felt. Pune, by the end of 2014-15, had reported 6,029 registered factories, of which 5,981 were operational, providing employment to 5,07,420 people. The growth in those years was noticed mostly in IT and in the subsidiaries of the major automobile industries. Pune’s industrial turnover for the year 2006-7 was reported to be Rs 4,288 crore which grew to Rs 1,33,390 core in the year 2014-15. Pune contributes substantially to the state’s turnover.

Tectonic Change

By far, IT revolution has been one of tectonic changes Pune has seen in the last two decades. The city has around 800 IT companies which provide employment to around 3-4 lakh people. The majority of companies in Pune deal in the services sector, with banking and financial technology reigning supreme.

Pramod Chaudhari, president of Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Agriculture and Industries (MCCIA), said one of the most interesting changes that Pune has seen over the last few years was the emergence of “digitisation of industries”. IT, he said, has been around for quite some time and now the other players are adapting to it. “IT usage in industries is giving rise to Industry 4.0 — the next generation of industrial growth,” he said.

The adoption of digitisation by manufacturing is one of the major changes that the city has seen. M S Unnikrishnan, managing director and CEO of Thermax, said the four major “condiments” for the growth would be 1) 3 D printing, 2) Advanced Robotics 3) Big data and 4) Artificial Intelligence.

“All the five levels of industries will see changes based on those four parameters,” he said. IT Hinjewadi, he said, will provide the necessary skill set for the changes. “Both Coimbatore and Ludhiana are manufacturing bases, but they lack the IT skills that Pune has. In this way, we are at an advantageous position,” he said. Industry 4.0 sees massive usage of IT in the manufacturing sector and use IT solutions in the assembly lines. The usage of IT increases efficiency of the shop floor and also minimises errors. The plant of GE India at Chakan, which was recently set up, has been cited as an example of Industry 4.0 plant, with other companies making their movement towards the same.

Talking about the synergy available in Pune, Chaudhari said the small and medium scale (SME) industries are also quick to pick up technology. “This can certainly be Pune’s uniqueness as the SMEs have made a strong ecosystem right from the start of Pune’s journey as an industrial city,” he said.

Pradeep Bhargava, former president of CII, Western India, said the emergence of this unique ecosystem for Pune has seen IT and allied services going beyond their frontiers. “Traditionally, services was supposed to be the fast lane while manufacturing was the slow lane. However, all changed when IT and services stepped into the manufacturing sector,” he said. The four major factors of manufacturing influenced by this were – productivity, quality, cost and dependability.

“The innovations in IT had a very receptive audience in manufacturing,” he said. Pune, Bhargava said, had a classic example of trying out new things as the city has the ready ecosystem. The SMEs have formed the backbone of Pune’s hub and the spoke model of industrial ecosystem. Pune has around 32,000 SMEs which provide both direct and indirect employment to many. The adoption of technology has been slow, but over the years major companies have helped in skill development of the SMEs. Chaudhari talked about the regular efforts of the MCCIA in this regard.

Start-ups

Over the last 10 years, Pune’s industrial scenario has seen the emergence of small, but potentially disruptive players in the form of start-ups. Individuals or small group of people have successfully used technology to come up with game-changing ideas for established business. Pune, as per reports generated by NASSCOM, had attracted around $80-90 million in the form of funding for software. “With the emergence of bitcoin blockchain and other crypto currencies, there is going to be a lot of start-ups that would be developing solutions which would have huge impact on the financial sector,” said Rohan Thuse, director, MDC Concepts India Pvt Limited, a city based start-up.

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