We are building our future on IoT and Industry 4.0: Deepak Shetty, JCB IndiaJCB entered India over four decades ago and has since brought in products with state-of-the-art technology. The company introduced the iconic JCB Backhoe Loader in 1979, a machine that has since revolutionised the way construction is done in the country. JCB India has integrated innovation and technology across the organisation – in products, manufacturing, and equally in product support. Significant advancements in the area of fuel efficiency, reliability, and lowering of operating costs have also been made over the years.

As a traditional company with a legacy of technology and systems, JCB has outdone the industry expectations with technology projects such as JCB LiveLink and the use case of IoT. JCB pioneered the integration of digital technology in its range of machines through advanced telematics called JCB ‘LiveLink’. Introduced in 2015, Livelink connects the machine with customers, dealers, and JCB on a real time, 24×7 basis for better asset management.

“This technology is enabled with analytics and real time monitoring features which help users increase productivity, control costs, and ensure asset safety. We have integrated features such as remote monitoring of JBC Machines for – Security, Operations, and Service on mobile devices. Machines can be geo-fenced and time-fenced. Customers can get to know about the machine’s health, fuel level, battery conditions, and almost all critical parameters of the machine remotely. It enables better site management and equipment utilisation,” Deepak Shetty, CEO & MD, JCB India told ETCIO.

JCB LiveLink, Unified technology for everything
JBC has leveraged technology to include a feature that can provide an early warning with detailed machine history enabling users to plan work effectively. This technology is helping to lower servicing and running costs by ensuring machines are operated to their optimum performance, reducing fuel consumption and unnecessary machine wear. By monitoring idle-time and real-time fuel consumption, JCB LiveLink helps manage the whole life cost of ownership, driving down costs, driving up productivity.

“We are constantly innovating our business model with new technologies. One such innovation is Livelink that has transformed the way machine-to-machine and machine-to-customer communication is done. Additionally, the system also sends out alert SMSs to registered mobile numbers. It incorporates GPS, telecommunications, machine electronics, and IoT, enabling the equipment to remain in contact with the owner, dealer, and JCB,” Shetty added.

Smart Manufacturing
From a manufacturing standpoint, The company has a strong robotic footprint in manufacturing, thus ensuring unified global quality. The machines that are made in India are exported to over 110 countries today.

“We are working towards an Industry 4.0 ecosystem in our plants, which helps in real-time monitoring of manufacturing processes. It also helps in making processes more efficient, thus helping us manufacture machines smartly in lesser time. Continuous improvements are made on the shop floor for the safety of people working in our factories. Various dashboards are available on the floor for sharing live information about the production and progress of operations. With SAP ERP implemented across all our plants, we are working towards an integrated manufacturing process. We have built a robust IT Landscape that supports the organisation in making informed decisions,” Shetty emphasised.

The challenging time of the pandemic
“COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on several industries including ours. We are all going through an extremely challenging period. Around the same time last year, almost all infrastructure development projects had come to a standstill due to the Lockdown. We are now again witnessing disruption caused by the Pandemic in its Second Wave,” Shetty said.

“Due to an increase in the infection rate around us, the health and safety of our colleagues and their families have become even more important. We decided to pause manufacturing operations for 10 days as a precautionary measure across our manufacturing locations at Ballabgarh, Pune, and Jaipur. However, even during this phase all our customer and dealer-facing functions continued to operate with the help of digital technology. Agility and Real Time Communication have become key in times such as these,” Shetty added.

With the use of IoT-enabled connected technologies, JCB India can build efficiencies in products and worksites alike. JCB India uses Livelink to monitor machines on their usage, performance, and their location.

“We were able to ascertain that activity in Rural India had commenced sooner than the urban market basis of the data generated. Similarly, equipment usage data up to the district level can also help us plan product support better to remain closer to our customers. Today, over 1,80,000 JCB machines communicate in real time and the data helps us in trends about the scale of Infrastructure activity in the country,” Shetty highlighted.

Digital sales enabler
The company is also using an omnichannel and mobility approach to serve customers better. JCB parts can be purchased through a mobile app and this feature has proved beneficial during the Pandemic and the company is seeing an uptick in the online sales of parts.

The company has instrumentally used technology to support its sales division. JCB has developed Sales Master, a software and an internal tool called Smart Serve which supports internal teams as well as engineer support at dealerships. The tool enhances the experience with intelligent responses. It is connected to the mobile application with which the customers can order parts online just like any omnichannel retail ecosystem.

Technology Layout
JCB will continue to invest in technology as we go further. The company has pioneered the integration of digital technology in its machines that are helping build infrastructure across the country. The digital footprint of the organisation is set to increase over the next few years. This integration will continue to be at an organisation-wide level, which includes people, processes, and products.

The company is also pioneering in the area of Alternate fuels. Late last year the team launched the Industry’s first dual-fuel CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) Backhoe Loader in India. Called the JCB 3DX DFi, this new machine can operate on CNG and diesel simultaneously using the HCCI (Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition) technology.

According to Shetty, the pandemic has opened up various opportunities for staying connected remotely for JCB India. The company has digitally-enabled HR functioning, which is eliminating face-to-face interviews and also leveraging technology to efficiently manage various processes.

“Going forward, we will keep investing and exploring new technologies. From a product perspective, we have been utilising IoT, machine learning, and big data ever since we introduced our advanced Telematics ‘JCB Livelink’. This focus on data analytics will get us more insights and will also help us provide predictive analysis to plan for the future as an organisation. All of which is of benefit to our customers,” Shetty concluded.

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