Smart PPE for India Industry 4.0 Vision 2047

India Industry 4.0 “Vision 2047”

With Industry 4.0 and Smart PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), the world is witnessing revolutionary changes in the industrial sector. Industry 4.0 is relevant for India which has the potential to manufacture goods worth $1 trillion by 2030. How well India implements this will be an important factor in determining if India could achieve its National Manufacturing Policy. This policy aims at increasing its manufacturing sector share in GDP from the current 17 % to 25 % by 2025. Achieving its Vision 2047 for its 100th year of independence is also a key national objective for India.

A national Industry 4.0 Vision 2047 fully supported by PM Narendra MODI

Undoubtless, we can say that Indian Prime Minister Narendra MODI pushes India to be the n°1 manufacturer of the world.

In 2022, during a visit in Germany, Prime Minister Modi said: “In the last century, Germany and other countries took benefit from the industrial revolution. India was a slave back then that’s why it couldn’t leverage benefits. But now India will not be left behind in the 4th industrial revolution, it’s now leading the world“.

One concrete sign of that ambition could be the Apple move from China to India (moving 20% of its China-based manufacturing to India). Chinese measures against Covid-19 might be the pretext but it’s hard to believe that India is not positionning itself as a viable alternative to China.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering of thousands of members of the Indian community at Audi Dome, in Munich (Germany) to share his vision about the role of India in Industry 4.0 revolution (Gulf news)

So far, India has been a sleeping tiger compared to the Chinese raging dragon, but things are probably changing, especially from demograhic and geopolitical perspectives. The trend is here but there are issues and pitfalls all along the path for India to be a global manufacturing superpower.

Poor performance for occupational accidents in India not in line with Vision 2047

Industry 4.0 aims to increase the overall productivity in the manufacturing sector but enhancing safety at the workplace should be one of its major outcomes. According to the National Disaster Management Authority report, in India, the Chemical sector saw 130 chemical accidents resulting in 259 deaths and left 563 people injured with major injuries in the last decade.

Safety of workers at the workplace is something India needs to emphasize. For instance, one of the BBC’s reports mentioned that a federal Minister of India in the year 2021 told the Indian Parliament that at least 6,500 workers died while working in factories, ports, mines, and construction sites in five years.

According to the same report, data collected by the Global worker’s union industrial sectors such as manufacturing, chemical, and construction report the most fatalities in India. 7 accidents were reported every month in 2021 in Indian manufacturing industries.

Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984 (3500 people died) is still in mind and India has to transform its image and build its reputation on safety and quality.

Bhopal tragedy

India’s quest of becoming an industrial powerhouse in line with Industry 4.0 Vision 2047 will remain incomplete in its true essence if it cannot integrate enhanced safety at the workplace. As Prime Minister Modi said in a virtual gathering held from 25-29 January, 2021 : “Industry 4.0 is not about robots, it’s about humans“.

The direct and hidden costs of occupational accidents

Adressing worker safety is not only a requirement to achieve political goals such as industry 4.0 vision 2047 but it is also a bottom line priority. Of course, it is a case-by-case but direct and indirect (hidden) costs are always present to a certain extent. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the price to pay for poor worker safety performance:

  1. Western safety compliance to be considered as a valid subcontractor. Said differently, if we have a lot of worker accidents, we may be out of the business with US, European and Australian companies since they have to comply with their own national requirements implying worker safety compliance among their subcontractors. That’s one of the reason why China has been investing a lot in worker safety those last years. ISO 45001 is one of the international standards that a growing number of companies are adopting.
  2. Loss in reputation. Indian companies are struggling to develop nationaly and also internationaly. Marketing and building its brand is important. Worker accident can ruin all their efforts.
  3. Difficulty to hire in a competing market. Human ressources are hard to find and proper worker safety practices can help to convince the best talents and/or the best motivated people.
  4. Direct financial compensation to workers family for lethal accident. In Europe and US, the average direct cost is close to $1 million/lethal accident. The cost in India is a way less ($6 000) than that but this cost will probably increase in the coming years.
  5. Indirect financial impact related to premium insurance and/or state/nation tax. Most of the time, a company must add a severe insurance premium increase and/or extra tax due to its poor worker safety performance. Those extra cost can greatly impact the business.
  6. Project delay. Respecting a planning is a key business driver. In case of occupational accident, it has been shown that most of projects are severely delayed, if not stopped. In this case, you may be exposed to financial penalties for not respecting the contract.
  7. Product boycott from end customers. A very severe accident could lead to massive embargo/boycott from final end-users/customers implying huge business loss (in millions of $).
  8. Team demotivation. Loosing a colleague is a tragedy and it has always a very severe impact on team motivation. One of the consequences might be people resigning from your company.
  9. ESG public market. Depending on its size and its financial strategy, it might negatively impact your finance strategy if your safety performance is poor. Eventually, it will dramatically increase the cost of money.

To have a chance to achieve its “Vision 2047”, India needs to work and invest a lot in worker safety and this is well understood by the policymakers. One example is the Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions Code which mentions that an offense that leads to the death of an employee will be punishable by imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine of up to five lakh Indian rupees, or both.

In the Indian Constitution, labour is a subject in the concurrent list which means both the Central and State governments can make laws over it. This gives enough flexibility to the states to modify Codes and Laws according to the changing suitability but on the other hand, it has the chance of creating loopholes that leads to compromised worker safety.

New technologies such as NB-IoT are changing the game

Cellular IoT is one of the many technical ways by which we can ensure safety and enhance overall productivity to reach Industry 4.0 Vision 2047. Leveraging the same mobile 4G networks as that used by smartphones, it uses different protocols and brings totally new performance.

The 2 technologies used by Cellular IoT are LTE-M and NB-IoT. One one hand, LTE-M devices are best made for applications in which real-time data transfer is involved. On the other hand, NB-IoT (Narrow Band IoT) is required for the areas that lack good LTE coverage. In India, NB-IoT is preferred by Indian telecom operators versus LTE-M.

Those new technologies are alternatives to low-power, wide-area networks that can operate in unlicensed bands such as the 169 MHz or 868 MHz (for instance, Wize, LoRaWAN or Sigfox).

LoRaWAN is another game changing techno for industry 4.0 deep indoor communication

Other technologies such as LoRaWAN can also benefit the Indian industrial transformation.

LoRaWAN makes sense wherever there is a lack of cellular IoT and/or in very specific use cases such as confined areas

By using LoRaWAN, Intellinium has demonstrated that we can get very good performance for extreme deep indoor telecommunications when a worker needs to send a immediate assistance alert.

Indian action plan to transform its industry is ongoing

It is noteworthy that India is now aspiring and taking all necessary steps to promote industry 4.0. It is especially focusing on the infrastructure such as smart manufacturing platforms, nurturing institutions to develop and promote excellence in Industry 4.0 among Indian industry.

The heavy industries and public enterprises ministry supports and nurtures 4 centers in the country to facilitate SMEs, implementing Industry 4.0. These centers are located at IIT Delhi, IISc Bangalore, CMTI Bangalore, IIT Kharagpur and focus on robotics, Artificial intelligence, smart manufacturing, and increasing digitization. 

But worker safety has to be adressed properly

What is quite paradoxical is the fact that the safety of workers at the workplace is still missing in Indian Industry 4.0 or if present then not the way it should be.

Indian industry lacks players that can provide Smart PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment).

The Indian market still revolves around providing mobile app-based smart solutions to the safety concerns of the Indian market. However, these solutions rely on smartphones which have their limitations such as a smartphone cannot work under high temperatures, high humidity, or rain and is quite delicate in an industrial environment. Finally, smartphone battery life is short. 

Smart PPE Intellinium technologies can help Indian Vision 2047

Intellinium, a French company founded in 2009 and owning several patents, is one such company that provides solutions via its products to fill in these voids.

By working on smart PPEs for such a long time, Intellinium has developed exceptional expertise in the field of Smart PPEs (for instance, on fall detection and more generally man-down situations) and unique products on the market:

  • Safety Pod for worker protection (mounted on safety shoes, boots, belts)
  • Detection Pod to detect and notify abnormal events (mounted on infrastructure such as barrier, cone…)
Safety Pod
Detection Pod

To be used in the most challenging industrial environment, especially explosive environment, the 2 products are designed with intrinsic safety protection mode (compliance as a portable product in ATEX zone 1 and zone 2).

Connected worker smart PPEs provided by Intellinium will definitely greatly help India’s Industry 4.0 Vision 2047 dreams to become true.

This article has been co-written and co-documented by Priyanka DUBEY, an Indian student from IAE Aix-en-Provence. This article is the first one a series of articles about India planned to be published until mid of July 2023. Next article is expected to be about the specific safety issues faced by Indian workers and organisations.