PM Guest Article

The Role of Technology in Plant Automation and Integration

Venkata Niranjan Kuruvada

Venkata Niranjan Kuruvada is  MD & CEO of Adwaitha SmartERP. He has 30 years of work experience in the IT Industry, 20 years of which was in a leadership role in ERP Implementations, Product development , Global Project Delivery Management and Application Deployment. He has implemented over 12 full life cycles of Oracle EBS and 5 full life cycles in SAP and has developed and implemented several Smart City applications.

In any kind of Operations, the top management uses data analytics to analyze performance, prioritize issues, and draw future plans. However, not all Plant and Integrated systems operations have the highest level of accuracy and this is usually due to a lack of technology enablement. Organizations can achieve such accuracy in these reports with real-time data transferred from Plant using Artificial Intelligence(AI) ,Internet Of Things(IOT), Machine-to-Machine communication (M2M), through Vehicle and Fuel Tracking systems (VFTS) in Logistics and Fleet Management, through Smart Helmets and smart IDs cards in Safety.

In management of industries there is always the need to balance multiple objectives, including safety, profitability and delivering value to customers. However, these objectives are often conflicting with goals not aligned across departments, plants, or enterprise boundaries. These grave issues can be easily overcome using automated and integrated systems in Operations and Management.

Getting all of your departments on the same page

Any disagreements are more than squabbling between departments—they represent real issues that impact the production process. This leads to imbalance between Purchases, Sales order flow and production process. Real-time networking between departments bridges the communication gap.


Real time data that is achieved using smart devices, sensors, and machines can generate a wealth of valuable information for enterprises in all sectors. However, one of the biggest barriers for companies is the lack of the tools and resources as well as the necessary skill-sets to decode and make sense of it all. This is where artificial intelligence, natural language processing, deep learning, speech recognition, and machine learning technologies, help in passing required metrics from machines to Analytical reports.

Impact of the Warehouse

“Anything that’s moving in the warehouse, the system knows” is achieved by applying IoE technology to supply chain operations. It also involves another crucial link in the chain which is warehouse operations. Such smart warehouses can accomplish a plethora of improvements that result in a significant impact on the bottom line.

Smart tools like RFID tag and sensors communicate information in real-time such that the managers would always know the status and usage of an item.

  • Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing processes are helpful for improving liquidity and cash flow. Lean manufacturing constantly reduces waste and unnecessary costs throughout the process.

Lean encompasses are a set of tools that help in the identification as well as steady reduction of waste, thus improving quality, reducing time and costs. The ultimate goal of lean is to get the right things to the right place at the right time and in the right quantity, to achieve perfect workflow while minimizing waste and being flexible.

  • Impact of Inventory

A manufacturer relies on inventory to ensure that demand for his product can be satisfied as quickly as possible so that value can be realised for all involved. Understanding available inventory  and knowing what parts are needed for upcoming projects allows the  manufacturer to place an order to maintain stock levels or plan for increasing demand or rising cost of supplies.

  • Cost of Goods Sold

Efficient management of inventory is the goal of every manufacturer because inventory has a direct impact on profits through an income statement item, called cost of goods sold (value of inventory sold for the period). Calculating gross profit helps the manufacturer to accurately record its cost of goods sold.

  • Integrating sales and operations planning

Getting these two departments to align their schedules requires the use of an ever-changing algorithm that takes into account nearly every department in the company. Considering a real time system that is able to accurately predict incoming orders, based on historical records.

  • Integrated plant performance management

Integrated plant performance can be achieved through digital transformation. Everyone under this umbrella is systematically and seamlessly is connected, from management to engineering personnel and then to control room operators, and vice versa. This helps management to drill down to operation related issues.

  • Anticipating transport damage – ensuring production quality

The quality of a manufactured product can only be as good as the quality of its components. Accordingly, companies must not only ensure that their own production processes run smoothly, but must also prevent defective parts from being assembled.

Smart Logistics can be used to monitor the transport of parts sensitive to temperature, humidity or vibration in real time while the goods are still in transit.

  • Detecting delivery shortages early on – adapting production planning

Production materials typically haul long distances before they arrive at the plant. Usually there are several blind spots on such a route with unclear information about the current location of the goods. Smart Logistics ensures that data is gathered and then enriched with available data such as satellite information that can pinpoint the location of the ship in almost real time.

The location data is used to calculate if the original arrival time (ETA) can still be met or not.

  • Analyzing delivery reliability – minimizing risks

Delivery delays and failures cause considerable financial damage. Will the supplier actually deliver the agreed quantities within the agreed period? Will problems arise again because he has already exceeded On-time Delivery (OTD) in the past?

Smart Logistics Data helps companies minimize risks.

  • Smart systems in Human Resource

Manufacturing companies lean heavily on the HRD function in times of labor unrest and strikes. Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. Use of Smart ID cards and Helmets not only tracks the Personnel and provides Time and Location, wherever Fingerprint / Access Ids can’t be used.

  • Smart Safety systems

Use of Smart Helmets, enables identification of workers in the Site and Plant even at night and in remote areas.  Human loss and accidents can be avoided during excavations or dumping and  during movement of big vehicles like JCBs. Managers can monitor and trace anyone at accident prone areas that are flagged with RFID/sensors.  This improves efficiency of safety department and reports made to the Management.