IoT in Service of Product Engineering

With new competitors challenging incumbents in every business by offering better products and services cheaper, faster and through vastly superior experiences, the need to cut down cost and response time has never been greater. One way in which we are helping clients fulfill this need is by digitizing their entire product lifecycle during product reengineering – from the design and manufacturing stage through maintenance and service activities.

Besides creating entirely new products and production lines, our clients are also trying to renew their existing portfolio of assets to improve them in several ways. An important avenue of improvement is of course, user experience. The sheer simplicity, convenience and elegance of consumer technology has deeply influenced business technology over the years. Enterprises are moving their focus away from the complexities of technology, and seeking to bring intuitive ease of use and addictive richness of experience to the products they engineer - things we take for granted as consumers, not for once stopping to look for the underlying technology. By infusing new technology into existing products to improve their consumption experience, enterprises can energize growth quite significantly.

At Infosys, we place great emphasis on understanding our clients’ business environment so we can guide them on that path where they can use technology to draw out the maximum value from products. Legacy infrastructure, a common feature of most large organizations, is a reality and we know how important a role it plays in sustaining products. Hence, rather than ripping it out, we refresh the legacy core with new technology to energize these large, old investments.

An example of this is the reengineering work we did to reconstitute a monolithic Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS) into smaller software components leveraging SDN/NFV technology. Thanks to this effort, our client, a cable operator, is able to ramp the CMTS up or down on demand and take it closer to the last mile, namely the customer’s home. This saves all parties both capital and running expenses.

It is of utmost importance to understand the mechanical or electronic engineering behind a product in order to identify the right software for amplifying it. This calls for knowledge of the product lifecycle from end to end, starting from design and manufacturing, right up to assembly, customer operations and after-sales service. For example, if one is to extract value hidden in IoT data, one must know what constitutes “desired” product behavior, and then track the gap between this and real-world results. The final step is to communicate this information to the people concerned so they can get to the bottom of things and bring about improvements. Recently, we partnered with an international engineering firm to devise an operational efficiency framework powered by Artificial Intelligence for managing large production units with complex IoT-led interconnected systems. When we took this concept to clients, they were excited about its potential to revolutionize manufacturing operations by improving several parameters, including system performance, availability and reliability, besides lowering the risk of disruption of production activities.

Our goals are simple – to help clients maximize value from existing assets, and use our IoT services to improve both top line and bottom line at client organizations. A number of clients are leveraging our IoT capabilities to monitor products and assets remotely, prevent breakdowns, and use insights from data gathered from sample assets to optimize manufacturing performance. By gaining visibility into the operation of each product or asset, clients can not only improve efficiency but also reinforce security and compliance. Some clients have sought our IoT services to explore new business models offering products as a service, that are paid for based on usage.

In the past year, our clients have earned significant value from our IoT offerings by transforming product engineering and leveraging technologies like Software Defined Network, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Robotics, Autonomous Technology and Additive Manufacturing. One of our offerings in this area is a robotic arm-based test automation framework that automates hardware and software testing of point of sale and mobile devices. Another offering is reengineering of critical metallic components through Additive Manufacturing. We are able to create such offerings because of our workforce, which is highly skilled in emerging technologies. To ensure that our people are always learning and up-to-speed, we have invested in several training and education partnerships, of which our tie-up with Udacity to train our workforce in skills related to Autonomous Technology, is one example.

In the future too, we will continue to combine knowledge of the new possibilities of emerging technologies, of product engineering, and of different industries to find ways to amplify the value of different products with software.