Ashish Nene and Subramhanya Hathwar, Co-founders at Websym Solutions Pvt. Ltd. shared their experiences in implementation of Digital Transformation solutions for manufacturing with YourStory Media using their FaktoryWize™ Connected Operations platform on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-based infrastructure.
In 2015, the adoption of Industry 4.0 and digitally connected factories that provided a 360-degree view of manufacturing operations was still nascent in India. “The concept was new even for large manufacturing organisations,” shares Ashish Nene, Director and CEO, Websym, a Pune-based startup that is among the leading providers of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions for the manufacturing and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) verticals. “We realised that to enable manufacturers in India to make the shift to smart manufacturing, we needed to build solutions that not only incorporated Industry 4.0 and digitisation best practices but also looked at the requirements of the Indian manufacturers,” shares Ashish.
He explains that while there were solution providers, they were either offering point solutions or were focused on the Operational Technology(OT) and offering Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) that were traditionally deployed on-premises rather than on the cloud. The observation led to the development and launch of FaktoryWize© platform in Beta in 2017. The solution was deployed for several early adopters in cable, general manufacturing and automobile manufacturing verticals to ascertain product fitment, gaps, understand customer requirements and real-life deployment problems.
Penetrating the IIoT market problems.
Today FaktoryWize© has evolved into an intelligent operations platform that brings together a coherent set of digitally connected solutions to streamline operations, improve operational efficiency and increase margins. It provides real-time 360-degree view into a business’ shopfloor operations and works in heterogeneous shopfloor environments, discrete and continuous manufacturing process scenarios and supports multi-plant and multi-country deployments. “We have built the FaktoryWize© platform to address customer requirements across real-time production monitoring, maintenance operations, utilities consumption monitoring, track and trace operations, quality management, and modular product offerings. The data generated during the manufacturing process is utilised to provide actionable insights, quick decisions to ensure high productivity rate, quality and efficiency, asset uptime, production as per schedule and plan etc,” says Subramhanya Hathwar, CTO, Websym. The platform powers several Tier-1 customers in India in single and multi-plant scenarios across verticals – glass, cable, automobile, FMCG, CPG and others. This includes brands like Jyothy Labs & Piramal Glass among others. “Today, 70 percent of the revenue from the licence business comes from FaktoryWize© for Websym,” says Ashish.
Apart from the breadth and depth of the features of the platform and the business impact it promises, there are multiple reasons why FaktoryWize© has been able to penetrate the enterprise market. “We have been able to execute end-to-end implementation of the platform including OT implementation, integration with their Line of Business like ERP systems in less than 18 months. In addition, the project involved serial implementation, including a few manufacturing units outside India, which again were ‘acquisitions’ hence the systems and technology infrastructure were different from that of the core brand,” explains Ashish. “And, the reason we are able to implement faster than most of the industry counterparts is because we meet about 80 percent of the standard asks from most customers and the rest is customised and configured to focus on the business’ unique needs,” he says.
The other big draw for a lot of customers is Websym’s strong ecosystem partnerships. “Industry 4.0 and Industrial IOT is an ecosystem play. Every IIoT project has different demands and challenges, which cannot be practically solved in isolation by just one solution provider. This is where ecosystem partnerships become central to the success of a IIoT implementation,” says the CEO. Websym has partnered with IOT Hardware and OT implementation partners to deploy solutions on the shopfloor for secure data acquisition and transfer, and System Integration partners for co-creation of solutions. “Not only do we have a large ecosystem of partners who can provide a broad range of services and solutions but we also take end-to-end responsibility for the implementation including – OT, deployment architecture, data security in addition to the deployment of FaktoryWize©. “With strategic industry partnerships, we are able to deliver complete solutions to customers. All of this accelerates the time to market, translating into a strategic advantage for the customers,” says Ashish.
Accelerating growth with AWS
While Websym was a cloud-based SaaS solution, the startup saw a need to port the platform to AWS. “We cater largely to the industrial manufacturing segment. And, if you look at it from an IoT perspective, about 60 to 70 percent industrial manufacturers were mostly using cloud services from the top two cloud service providers, which includes AWS. So, it was very clear that if we had to accelerate growth, our platform needed to be ported natively to AWS,” says Ashish. 2020 saw Websym collaborating with AWS to leverage its worldwide Cloud infrastructure and strong industry relationships and offer its FaktoryWize© platform natively on AWS Cloud. FaktoryWize© leverages AWS managed services especially in the area of IoT like – AWS IoT Core, AWS IoT SiteWise, AWS IoT Greengrass, AWS IoT Device Management, AWS IoT Device Defender, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), among others to deliver its solutions to process and discrete manufacturing customers.
“Leveraging the AWS IoT PAAS has enabled us to reduce the overall application development time and accelerate time to market by 25 percent on average. In addition, these services provide the best in-breed solutions for machine to cloud and cloud to machine security and data transfer performance that enables customers to focus on meeting the business objectives in deployments rather than spending effort on infrastructural issues,” shares Subramhanya. Given that AWS provides access to server infrastructure on a pay-per-use model, the overall solution deployment costs have also resulted in reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and accelerated RoI for its customers.
All of this has translated into increased customer traction. “The number of prospective customers we have spoken to in the last two years is much higher than it was ever in the past. In the last 12 months, we have had detailed conversations with 50+ customers. And, we have been able to translate many of these conversations into fairly large projects. In the past, the engagements would often be limited to automating one part of the factory or two or three manufacturing lines, but today we are onboarding customers where engagements start with one or two plants and quickly scale up to 10+ manufacturing plants,” he says.
In addition, porting the FaktoryWize© solution to AWS has helped Websym to target customer segments that require deployment scale along with enterprise-grade security at a reasonable cost. “Our solutions can also now be deployed across multiple geographic regions easily while complying with the regulatory requirements for each geography,” says Subramhanya.
In addition to the collaboration on the technology front and enabling Websym to broaden and strengthen the tech prowess of the FaktoryWize© platform at scale, an added advantage of the collaboration has been in the area of business growth. Websym is also one of the few partners in the area of IIoT which has completed the APN Customer Engagements (ACE) Program. “The programme provides partners like us to collaborate closely with AWS Sales and Marketing teams,” he says. Websym and AWS are working together in offering joint solutions in India, Asia Pacific and Australia and New Zealand markets. “We plan to expand this relationship into other geographies as well. AWS’ scale and global footprint makes it easy for us to offer our products and solutions to customers in new regions in quick time,” informs Ashish.
An exciting time for IIoT
Driving the early phase of IIoT adoption in India and now across different markets, Ashish observes that customers are increasingly shifting to deploying their solutions on the cloud for easy scalability, offering one-window view of all their manufacturing operations, instant decision-making, reduction on internal IT resources on maintenance, security etc. “Customers are shying away from deploying legacy on-premises solutions that are difficult to scale, maintain, and are very expensive. While these solutions have lots of industry vertical features available as standard offerings, they are not flexible and take a long time to deploy,” says Ashish. This, he feels, augurs well in deploying born-in-the-cloud solutions like Websym’s FaktoryWize© that can be easily deployed, supported and upgraded with new releases and features and integrated with Line of Business (LoB) systems easily. “Deploying multi-country, multi-plant, multi-manufacturing line solutions was never easier for manufacturing organisations than it is now with solutions like FaktoryWize©,” he says.
The bootstrapped startup has been profitable since its inception, and has been seeing a steady growth, especially in the last two years. “We have been growing at a double digit growth rate year-on-year since inception and expect the growth rate to be 70% or higher going forward. The COVID-19 situation has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by manufacturing organisations. FaktoryWize©, which was earlier seen as a nice-to-have solution to be adopted in the future, is increasingly being considered for early deployments. We see great opportunity and robust growth,” says Ashish, signing off.