Internet of Things (IoT) is network of networks, where objects or systems are interconnected and they share information between them via a cloud server, to make the systems work more efficiently or to give useful information to the people. For example, the traffic signals could share information between them and then relay it to people’s cell phones to make the drivers aware of traffic jams and accidents in the city. IoT is gaining popularity in India as the factories of India are becoming more and more digitized and interconnected by the day. Realizing these facts two students, Zubin Jagtiani and Raghu Shenoy have now founded their own startup called Think 7, which manufactures a product called the ‘Piston’. Piston communicates with machines in a factory using IoT technology. Piston checks if all the machines in a factory are working at the right conditions like temperature, voltage, pressure, efficiency among other parameters. It also automatically shuts down machines in case they get overheated or if a breakdown occurs. This process is called ‘Interlock’ and the machine will be allowed to function again only after the defective component has been replaced. Read more on Internet of Things
“Today there is a lot of talk about smart and connected factories. It’s all about connecting the dots on the shop floor”, Jagtiani says. Jagtiani says that it is essential that men and machine are at sync in factories. He says that any factory worker must know what any other man or machine will do/is doing at any given point of time in the factory. Think 7’s IoT software (Piston) sends out tasks and reminders to the relevant people at the time they need to run those tasks/machines, along with all the information or instructions they need for it. Piston consists of mostly off the shelf, regular hardware components along with a coded firmware built into it. Prior to Piston, the manufacturing industry had manufacturing and data separate from each other. This led to the adoption of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, but unlike Piston, it does not relay tasks and reminders or co – ordinate man and machine on a real time basis. Piston was formerly known as factory management system. It was formerly used only to count the widgets produced by a machine. The product is now undergoing its second commercial iteration.
Another specialty of the firmware built into Piston is that, if a machine is left unoperated for more than five minutes it automatically puts the machine in idle mode and the operator of the machine has to enter the reason for leaving it idle, before he can restart the machine again! Think 7 is focusing on the auto component and aerospace component manufacturers, partly because many auto component makers have also branched out to make airplane parts. India accounts for only about 3 percent of the global demand for auto components, but that figure is expected to increase 7-fold over the next 10 years, Jagtiani says. The world is looking at India as a (much bigger) base for small-car manufacturing and with that come the supplier base of component makers. Hence, there is a great opportunity in India. The Lobby Confederation of Indian Industries estimates there are over 25,000 auto component makers in India. Of those, about a fifth (5000) are ready to try out Think 7’s solutions say Jagtiani and Shenoy. Piston’s firmware can work both from an Amazon cloud and from a server sitting on the customer’s premise. Piston’s user interface is an elegant tablet – based system that machine operators, inspectors and other types of factory workers will find convenient and easy to use. “From the simplest drilling machine to the most complicated computer controlled machine, our solution works with all of them”, Shenoy says. Zubin Jagtiani was selling auto – components and Raghu Shenoy was doing IT outsourcing before co – founding their startup, Think 7.
There can be no doubt that Think 7’s Piston product is a highly useful one for factories, in India especially. Connection, especially real time connection between machines/manufacturing and data is something factory workers will find highly convenient. Instead of looking up their time table all the time, factory workers will find it convenient if they were given reminders and tasks and instructions on what machines to operate and how to operate them. Piston’s firmware also optimizes the machines’ efficiency by putting them in idle mode if not operated for over five minutes. Managers at the factories can know why the machines were idle and how many widgets they had produced that day because workers have to enter the reason code in Piston before they can restart the machine. It also prevents machines from completely breaking down by interlocking them if any component gets damaged or if overheating or voltage fluctuation occurs. It also co – ordinates man and machine and machines in factories so that everything is in sync and everyone knows what any other person is doing. IoT is a wonderful technology which produces an interconnected network of intelligent systems, sharing information between them and coordinating with each other to maximize the efficiency of the systems and the network as a whole and to make life easier for people by providing useful information to them. In the future, ‘things’ like tea kettles, washing machines, cars and dinner jackets may be stuffed full of sensors so that they can communicate and co – ordinate with each other to get the work done faster or on time. IoT technology should be embraced and adopted by more industries in India to maximize their efficiency. The government of India should reward, fund and promote more of such innovative startups. Read more on Startup News