At the start of their digital transformation initiative, Bharat Forge’s 60-year-old plants were a mix of old and mostly niche technologies. Diversifying into aluminum forging, they began setting up new plants in India and the US, even expanding further by entering the market for turbochargers and moving into the defense sector, becoming an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) instead of just a components manufacturer.
This required a mindset shift for the company and brought a higher level of complexity to the manufacturing process.
“The forging lines in four of our industrial complexes were operating with various technologies and processes, so the need to improve production efficiency was critical,” says Yogesh Zope, Chief Digital Officer.
Founded in 1961, Bharat Forge Limited (BFL), the Pune-based Indian multinational global leader in metal forming, has been serving several sectors that include automotive, railway, defense, aerospace, marine, oil and gas, power, construction, and mining.
Bharat Forge began by implementing condition monitoring with PTC’s IoT solutions across all their forging lines in their four industrial complexes in India. The company didn’t want to be dependent on outside developers and consultants – so the ease of use of the ThingWorx Industrial IoT Platform and Kepware’s Industrial Connectivity Solution offered the perfect solution. Bharat Forge was impressed with PTC’s ability to seamlessly connect to disparate and legacy machinery using Kepware and then use that data to generate insights with ThingWorx.
Kepware provides a single source of industrial data to all automation devices, machines, and software applications. With built-in security, scalability, and a library of more than 150 drivers and advanced plug-ins, Kepware has the flexibility to overcome any data connectivity challenge.
ThingWorx takes the data from Kepware and displays it visually for real-time condition monitoring and diagnosis. It provides real-time visibility to monitor production KPIs and historical trends to improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and line performance.
Bharat Forge knew they couldn’t achieve extreme efficiency just by moving to digital, so they transformed their entire operation by focusing on three areas:
1) Platform/technology deployment: They formed a dedicated IT and OT team that worked as one to deploy and implement Kepware and ThingWorx throughout their plants.
2) Reskilling of employees: All 2,500 engineers, including executives, at Bharat Forge attended a six-week bootcamp-like training on Industry 4.0 to remove the fear of technology and understand how it could enhance their jobs. Once the engineers learned what was possible with digital, they were the ones demanding changes on the shop floor.
3) Lean implementation: Bharat Forge has implemented an “Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence” in partnership with PTC, focused on leveraging digital in hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics, mechatronics, and robotics to reduce the cost of operations while increasing efficiency. This Center will help Bharat Forge to enable preventive maintenance, improve operational efficiency, product quality, and time to market, as well as build the foundation for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
Since implementing ThingWorx and Kepware, Bharat Forge has real-time visibility to monitor production KPIs including OEE (overall equipment effectiveness). Intelligent alarms alert operators who can respond within seconds to take action and increase efficiencies. Arguments about the true calculated value of OEE have subsided. From operators to executives, their lives have become easier because of data transparency on the shop floor.
As an example, one night at 2 a.m. when an operator started seeing abnormal vibration via the ThingWorx dashboard, he stopped the press and found a broken bolt. Had he not caught it within half an hour, the shop would have been down for at least two shifts. The cycle time of that press was 12 seconds, so they averted the loss of thousands of units. With the help of the PTC platform, they are improving their OEE by over 15% in several of their forging lines.
Bharat Forge’s digital transformation is a collaborative journey with PTC. As Bharat Forge continues to expand through acquisitions and to new markets, they will continue to leverage digital systems to deploy processes and technology faster. While they started with four facilities, they are now implementing ThingWorx and Kepware in all their machining shops. As they continually expand their implementation of IoT for digital transformation, they continue to reduce the cost of operations and increase efficiency.
In addition, while they started with a focus on condition monitoring on the forging and machining lines, they are now implementing a PoC for predictive analytics. In the future, they are also exploring the possibility of integrating product lifecycle management (PLM) and augmented reality (AR) into their manufacturing processes to create a complete digital thread.
“Leveraging PTC’s technology stack and Bharat Forge’s strong manufacturing excellence, we will drive digital innovation and derive significant business value.” Amit Kalyani, Deputy Managing Director.