Tapping IISc. to upgrade industry to the ‘fourth’ generation of technology

Research into automation of factory jobs and a 3-D metal printing research centre will help India catch up with other countries

Updated - November 11, 2017 07:35 am IST

Published - November 10, 2017 07:46 pm IST

A smart factory and a 3-D metal printing research centre — perhaps, the first of its kind in India — are part of a ₹35-crore plan that will see the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) extend its academic prowess to take industry into the next generation of products and services.

The Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing (CPDM) will be setting up two inter-disciplinary centres — Common Engineering Facility Centre (CEFC) and a Centre of Excellence for Additive Manufacturing. Nearly 80% of the over ₹36-crore needed to upgrade machinery will be borne by the Department of Heavy Industries while the rest will be raised from private companies.

“CEFC will attempt to not just conduct research on automation of factory jobs, but will also incorporate smart elements to empower labour working in factories now,” said Amaresh Chakrabarti, Professor and Chairman, CPDM.

The eventual plan for the new set-up, he said, is a redesigned factory floor where one half comprises legacy machines (that is, existing equipment in most Medium, Small and Micro Scale Enterprises) that is linked to another part with cutting edge technologies of Internet of Things and robots. “This way, we can tinker with processes that would allow for existing companies to use technology to increase productivity, or quality, or reduce emissions or make manufacturing safer,” said Prof. Chakrabarti.

3-D printing

Meanwhile, the research-heavy ₹10.5-crore Additive Manufacturing centre will attempt to bring in research on a way to 3-D print high-performing metals. “Just four companies now engage in the process globally, which has the potential to overhaul manufacturing,” said Anurag Srivatsava, Chief Operating Officer, Society for Innovation & Development.

The Centre, in essence, will help India catch up on nearly two decades of research in ‘printing’ metals and super alloys rather than the current technologies of casting, moulding and finishing.

“The technology will make a significant impact in the next 10 or 20 years. India is currently nowhere in this, but this presents an opportunity to understand the processes and change the game in the near future,” he said.


What is Industry 4.0?

The ‘fourth’ generation of technology, after mechanisation (18th, 19th centuries), assembly line manufacturing (20th century), computer and automation (late 21st century)

Involves ‘smart factories’: Internet of Things, cloud and cognitive computing

Common Engineering Facility Centre (CEFC)

₹25.6 crore upgradation of labs at CPDM

Will connect existing factory set-up with ‘smart’ factory

Allows companies to upgrade processes gradually to smart factory

Comprises researchers in electrical and communication, systems, mechanical, computer science, materials and Industrial experts

Centre of Excellence in Additive Manufacturing

₹10.5 crore for 3-D high-performance metal printing at CPDM

First-in-the-country to research and develop additive manufacturing

Comprises researchers in material science, instrumentation and applied physics, industry experts

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