Q1. You have been associated with the TIC industry for over two decades. Can you share your insights on the transition of the industry over the years?
I started my career in the TIC industry undertaking audits. As I travelled on assignments within India and overseas, a few things became immediately apparent. Internationally, the awareness levels on issues of safety and quality were much higher. There was a whole ecosystem built around these aspects, and the systems and processes were more evolved. In India, during those days, Testing, Inspection and Certification were looked upon as a necessary requirement companies had to undergo to comply with regulations.
But, as the Indian industry has become more integrated with the world, this outlook has changed. TIC is now undertaken not just because it is mandatory by law, but also because it is good for the business.
Another critical development has been the significant investments made by the TIC players in setting up state-of-the-art laboratories within India, powered by technical experts with global exposure to knowledge, resources and good local insights.
TIC has also changed as a profession. Today, we are going beyond quality and safety requirements and supporting the industry's ambition to embrace digital technologies and build a more sustainable and resilient world.
Q2. On the topic of sustainability, do you think is the role of TIC in helping industries meet their sustainability agendas?
Sustainability is an issue that concerns not just a few industries, but every human being, and indeed all living things on Earth. The warning issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest report is stark. If we don't take urgent action to curb global warming, the consequences will likely be devastating.
The TIC industry has always been at the forefront when it comes to issues of sustainability. In fact, I would venture to say that it is in our very DNA. Almost every portfolio of our industry, be it safety, quality, enhanced efficiency or the environment, has to do with sustainability in a broader sense.
Today we are involved in almost every aspect of the combat against climate change – be it decarbonisation, electric vehicles, green hydrogen, encouraging the shift to renewables.
With its elements of standardisation, metrology, accreditation, verification and conformity assessment, the TIC industry is playing a crucial role in supporting this transformation. Testing, Inspection and Certification helps consumers make informed choices, encourages innovation, and leads businesses and industries to adopt appropriate new technologies and organisation methods. All these aspects support the ambitions of governments in designing and implementing public policies, aligned with international goals and commitments – such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or the UN Global Compact – for a more sustainable future for all.
Q3. How is the TIC sector helping in the adoption of Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0, as you know, is generally referred to as the convergence that we see today of various technologies, including Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), genetic engineering and quantum computing. It can find new ways of dealing with significant global challenges, such as climate change, lack of clean energy access, economic stagnation, and reducing the digital divide.
Industry 4.0 presents opportunities for both transforming and leapfrogging. For most companies, however, transformation or leapfrogging is not easy. Many companies find it difficult to formulate an Industry 4.0 roadmap customised to their strengths and challenges. They are often overwhelmed by the multitude of technologies in the market and how they can be integrated seamlessly into their infrastructure and operations.
This is where the TIC industry comes in. Take, for example, the work we are doing at TÜV SÜD. We have worked out a three-step process to help enterprises deal with the challenges of industry 4.0. The first step is a gap analysis using the Smart Industry Readiness Index (SIRI). This is an internationally recognised framework that we have formulated working together with The World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB), together with McKinsey and Siemens. We believe that SIRI will help the manufacturing community accelerate digital transformation by adopting Industry 4.0 globally.
The second step is "Solutioning", where a roadmap is defined and the business case for each initiative is evaluated. These are then implemented while ensuring that quality requirements of safety, security, reliability and interoperability are met. In the last step, 'Operation', the company's running systems are controlled to ensure reliable and smooth operations while minimising operation and maintenance costs.
Industry 4.0 is set to change the world and make manufacturing more sustainable while enabling companies to substantially improve operating efficiency and optimise costs. Above all, companies that embrace Industry 4.0 will stay relevant and be future-ready. TIC services have a critical role to play in this.
Q4. What are the key trends and challenges that will shape the TIC industry, particularly for India and TIC Council's support to address these?
As I mentioned earlier, in my years in the profession, I have seen a sea change in the attitude towards TIC in India. But a lot still needs to be done. The world is changing rapidly and facing increasingly complex challenges. As the second-most populous country globally and an emerging economic superpower, India has to do its part to meet these challenges.
Let me give you a few examples: a lot still needs to be achieved in India when it comes to public safety issues – for instance, elevator safety and related regulations. TIC Council has a vital role in working with the government and the industry to ensure that India's standards on public safety, fire safety, food safety, and environmental issues can meet global benchmarks.
The government is taking many positive steps, each of them meaning an enhanced role for the TIC industry and the TIC Council to play. Take India's decision to phase out those cars based on internal combustion engines by 2030. This is a welcome move. But at the same time, it will provide a steep challenge in terms of safe handling of batteries, eco-friendly disposal of used batteries, as well as training technicians to work in a high-voltage environment.
We must also look at the government's aim to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. Again, a worthy goal to strive for, but one which throws up enormous challenges and opportunities for the TIC industry to work with the government to develop the necessary guidelines and regulations.
Q5. How is the TIC sector in India coping with the pandemic and the new challenges it has brought in?
When the Indian government announced one of the world's strictest lockdowns in early 2020, initially, it presented the TIC sector with enormous difficulties. There were ongoing audits and inspections which were affected. However, the industry quickly adapted thanks to an enhanced use of technology – remote inspections, drones, smart glasses, communicating with customers using advanced IT infrastructures. All this helped in providing the industry with the means to have business continuity with intelligent solutions during the pandemic.
TIC services were also critical for helping both the country and the medical community with health and hygiene audits, testing of PPE kits, sanitisers, as well as medical devices like ventilators. All this helped the frontline health workers in fighting the virus effectively.
I believe that this move was only possible because the TIC industry has been evolving continuously over the last few years and has wholeheartedly embraced technology-oriented processes. Working in those conditions influenced by the pandemic has helped the TIC industry to accelerate improvements of its systems and processes and enhance efficiency.
Q6. Do you believe that remote inspections are here to stay? Will they completely replace on-site inspections?
If the question is whether automated processes can completely eliminate human interaction during inspections, then I would say not for quite a while, and definitely not in all assessments. But there is no denying that remote inspections and continuous monitoring of assets are here to stay, and they will form an increasingly crucial part of the process. I see advanced software and technology like smart glasses, innovative sensors and AI playing a far more pivotal role.
One significant change is that processes and portfolios are likely to be more data-driven in the future, supported by AI and smarter analytics. Technology has already led to a massive collection of data lakes, and AI-driven data analytics will deliver solutions that drive efficiency, productivity and innovation.
As I mentioned earlier, TIC services are evolving into technology-oriented solutions, and the pandemic has given an added impetus.
As far as TÜV SÜD is concerned, we have enabled innovations in safety, security and sustainability solutions by partnering businesses, big and small, worldwide. Our solutions help companies to enhance efficiency, ensure quality and increase global market access. As we look towards tomorrow, we will continue to play a pivotal role as a future-oriented company shaping the "next practice" and inspiring trust in new technologies.