New Delhi: India is the only “lower middle-income” country which has made it to the second group of leading economies in the field of Advanced Digital Production (ADP) technologies, along with countries such Australia, Canada, Italy, Singapore and Spain, according to a report titled, “Industrialising in the Digital Age” released by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

“Indian research centres and companies are patenting new innovations in ADP technologies in leading markets such as the EU, Japan and the USA. They are also embedding these technologies in new capital goods (smart machines) that they increasingly export abroad. Besides the manufacturing capacity, India has also a strong position in the knowledge intensive business and ICT services that control and connect these technologies on the shop floor, between supply chain partners and with markets,” René Van Berkel, Representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation in India said.

The ADP technologies have also picked up pace during the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought to the forefront the concept of digital age and almost overnight businesses, governments, educational institutions, healthcare providers and many others went online and people are now becoming accustomed to tele-education, tele-health, tele-government and tele-working.

The boundaries between the physical and digital are also increasingly getting blurred through ADP technologies that combine hardware, software and connectivity. Robots are being deployed in patient care; drones are being used to deliver critical supplies, remotely monitor body temperatures and disinfect public places; and 3D printers have become the core of rapid development and production of new medical equipment, including lower cost ventilators.

René Van Berkel also said that “laudable work is being done across India for example through the Department of Heavy Industry with its Smart Advanced Manufacturing and Rapid Transformation Hub (SAMARTH)-Udyog Bharat 4.0 which supports four centres to popularise and demonstrate practical industry 4.0 solutions. These SAMARTH centres singled out limited experience with production process planning and design and outdated machinery, typical of the third or the second industrial revolution, as major bottlenecks for Indian firms. This reflects UNIDO’s global finding that successful uptake of ADP technologies requires industrial capabilities which include the capability to operate technology, make investments, and capture the learnings that come from running and optimising factories”. According to the UNIDO report, India will stand to benefit from the promotion of Industry 4.0
applications.

“Those firms that already have advanced digital capabilities deserve support to create new products for new services and new markets. As an example, Sagar Defence Engineering, a leader in floating drones, combined to create India’s first unmanned vessel to collect floating plastics and other waste from surface waters. Manufacturers operating traditional machines and assembly lines can benefit from customised digital enhancements and partial automation.” René Van Berkel said.

“UNIDO’s assessment found that ADP policies are highly contextual. However, three areas are particularly important: developing framework conditions through industrial, technology and digital policies; fostering demand and adoption by improving awareness, readiness and availing appropriate financing; and strengthening of capabilities, particularly human resources and research capabilities. The Government has voiced strong intent to modernise manufacturing sector policy to achieve self-reliant India and move towards a world-class USD1 trillion manufacturing sector by 2024. The SAMARTH programme is supporting demand creation as do the smart manufacturing initiatives of leading industry bodies, such as NASCOM, CII and FICCI. This can be expanded to demonstrations in the main manufacturing clusters around the country to demystify Industry 4.0 to majority of firms and indeed seed an innovation ecosystem that is increasingly driven by the manufacturing sector’s design, product and technology needs,” Berkel further added.