From rifles to tanks, the Army is looking at setting up a real-time database on the condition and status of each of its approximately 30 lakh pieces of equipment.
Launched by the Army’s Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) on September 1, Project Beehive, which seeks to achieve greater automation of the Corps and connect all its workshops to an integrated smart network with real-time data analytics capabilities, is expected to be up and running by October next year.
“The next five years will be hugely transformative for the Indian Army to become a network-centric force,” Lieutenant General Anil Kapoor, DG, EME, said during an interaction last week. “By October 15 (EME Corps Day) next year, we should have the Beehive up and running,” he said.
“The centralised network would allow us to access data about any equipment we have across the country in real-time, and it would also have the capability to analyse that data and say which equipment is due for maintenance, so it will allow data mining,” he said.
He explained that with Project Beehive, the EME is building the “business intelligence” of the Army’s equipment, with a “depth of 30 lakh” and a “range of 2,000 types” — 30 lakh pieces of equipment across 2,000 categories.
The project will be based out of Army Headquarters. “At various levels, the functionaries will be able to see all equipment readiness,” said Kapoor. It will also help in “engineering support functions”, he said.
The project has been divided into eight modules, of which the first module is ready and the second is under preparation, Army sources said. The project is “moving bottom up” from the level of field workshops, the sources said.
About two years ago, a project called Workshop Honeybees or WASPs, which involves nearly 200 automated workshops at the ground level, was launched. “Automation of the Corps will give us a lot of advantage. Currently, under WASP, workshops have been automated. And, as part of Project Beehive, these WASPs or workshops would then sit on a centralised ‘beehive’ — a massive integrated network in Delhi, from which we would draw honey (data),” said Kapoor.
But collecting the data is just the first step. “With Project Beehive, the data collected will lead to predictive analytics,” said Kapoor. Once the “business intelligence” on the equipment is ready, he said, the EME will work towards using seek-and-respond Artificial Intelligence (AI) for its predictive analytics.
There are many EME officers who are pursuing their Masters’ degree in various engineering institutes across the country, including at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Kapoor said, adding that some of these officers were working on the project along with “handpicked coders” from the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to build the platform.
Emphasising the sensitive nature of the assignment, he said this was why “only officers are involved and the EME did not want to involve any vendors”.
The Corps of EME is responsible for repair of military equipment and maintenance of their operational fitness.
In March last year, the Army had informed a parliamentary committee that 68 per cent of its equipment was of vintage era.