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Open Innovation with Startups for Digital Transformation

04 July 2023

Raychem RPG

Raychem RPG

Raychem RPG innovates in digital by first gathering ideas from its 4 plant locations, and business functions through an open-ideation platform. The ideas are discussed extensively and screened for business case in three areas -- customer experience, operating cost, business growth through new products or services. The shortlisted ideas are then prioritized for implementation by the company’s leadership.

Engagements with startups begin during the implementation stage by the project team, comprising of members from digital, operations, quality and support functions. Hubs of Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Bangalore are generally explored since they have the right mix of startups solving manufacturing centric problems. The companies are evaluated for technical acumen and project execution capabilities through site visits. Sometimes references also come in handy during this stage.

Shortlisted companies are invited to visit our factories or field locations, to help them understand our challenges thoroughly. Basis success of proof of concept, techno-commercial assessment of top 3 vendors, the execution team zeroes in on the suitable one. Over the last 2 years, we have built a good set of startup partners by various technologies – low code apps, IOT, RPA, AI and analytics. Today, roughly 60% of our digital projects are executed by startups. Startups become preferred in some cases due to their flexibility, cost and nature of challenges being solved for. We have shared three successful digital projects from our experience of startup collaborations, where situations demand scale during adoption.

Case 1: Mobile app to digitalize electrical cable jointing operations.

Electric cables are gradually moving underground, and cable jointing is a very important step to ensure availability and reliability of power supply. Raychem RPG’s jointers and supervisors take up 3-4 hours per joint preparation, and the entire filed operations team undertake several joints in various parts of the country. As a system integrator, Raychem RPG aims to minimize joint failures as it will take atleast 5 times the cost of first deployment during rework.

To ensure complete traceability of field operations and to prepare itself for potential failures, Raychem RPG has built a mobile app for field team to track operations end-to-end, covering man, method, tools, and site conditions. The data stored in the cloud helps the company analyze the reliability of joints under set conditions and identify areas for improvement.

Developed on low-code platform by a startup based in Hyderabad, this app has been rolled out in Mumbai for 30% of the company’s daily cable jointing operations. The app will be adopted by the company in other cities in the coming 3-4 months.

Case 2: IIOT deployment in Safety Gloves line to produce QR Coded Gloves

Safety gloves, which are used by electricians in the field while working on live wires, require high level of reliability. End users often get assurance of glove’s quality by accessing the latest functional test certificates of each pair. This check has so far been done through paper-based certificates provided by the manufacturer. However, in many instances these paper certificates could get lost when customers store gloves and it will be such a critical information for an end user before wearing the glove.

To offer a differentiation, Raychem RPG launched QR coded gloves. The genesis of glove making from production till the final quality inspection are tracked through an IIOT set up in the factory. At each stage, the process and quality metrics are tracked through HMI or IOT infrastructure, and the data is routed to the cloud.

Subsequently, the data captured from various stages are converted into reports, which are unique to each pair, and the reports are embedded in to QR codes printed on gloves. Customers get the assurance of accurate information on the quality of Raychem RPG gloves, by means of scanning QR codes from their mobile phones. All gloves dispatched from Raychem RPG factories today are QR coded. The digital platform generates daily MIS reports on factory operations and serves as an enabler of production planning and quality control.

This IIOT implementation was completed by a startup based in Ahmedabad.

Case 3: Digitalized maintenance management system in factories of Raychem RPG.

Moving away from paper to digitized version in factory to manage maintenance, quality and production data has produced shopfloor productivity improvements at Raychem RPG.

We were looking to modernize our then on-prem software for maintenance. At the same time, the tool had to adhere to our TPM principles that we were beginning to adapt. The business excellence team in collaboration with production and digital teams, identified a startup based in Chennai which was specialized in manufacturing excellence systems. The startup then engaged with us over a period of 8 months to custom build a digital platform in 3 of the factory locations covering 75% of our output.

Today, the digitalized version serves as a diagnostic tool and captures production, maintenance, quality data pertaining to product & processes for on time analysis for quick improvements. This practice has eliminated manual data entry into system, which often led to errors. Today, the tool helps us with dashboards of OEE, Yield, OLE and several other production information. Others such as safety equipment calibration, JH compliance and 5S audits are also undertaken with this tool.