TCS plans to launch a transformative composite AI solution for manufacturing and process plant operations, TCS Cognitive Plant Operations Advisor, in September 2021. It is focused on engineering decisions related to plant operations and maintenance and is built on the Microsoft Azure Platform. TCS is working on a joint go-to-market strategy with Microsoft for this. This solution will be an integrated platform for combining IT, Operational Technology (OT), and Engineering Technology (ET). It can not only be used to connect data from different applications (LIMS, DCS, QMS, MES, etc.) but also to generate actionable insights that act as guidance for the operators, derived through curation and reasoning over the digitally captured domain and tacit knowledge coupled with advanced industry-specific AI algorithms and physics-based models.
Exhibit 1: Key components of Cognitive Plant Operations Advisor
Source: TCS, 2021
The continuous process manufacturing operations are more mature in terms of digitalization when compared to discrete manufacturing. The challenge for TCS was to understand the nuances of the industry-specific processes that often vary across industries, geographies, and even among different sites of the same manufacturer, and improve the efficiency further. Based on its rich domain experience and the maturity of the composite AI solution, TCS has set the following targets as potential outcomes or benefits for end customers (Exhibit 2).
Exhibit 2: Potential benefits for the end customers
Source: TCS, 2021
The domain understanding and efficacy of AI models are critical for the success of this platform, and the role of Microsoft is of paramount importance
TCS is leveraging its knowledge and experience of working with diverse manufacturing and process industries, its IP-driven components, and Microsoft Azure capabilities for developing this platform. For example, TCS uses Azure Cloud Platform Services, Data Integration & Storage Services, and IoT Hub & Azure Digital Twin Services for various functionalities of the platform. Besides technical capability augmentation, its relationship with Microsoft can help approach new clients who are already using Azure products (both from a cloud computing and IoT platform point of view). Also, TCS is adopting an open licensing approach for this platform, i.e., manufacturers can only take enterprise licenses and leverage internal IT teams/other service providers for implementation.
The Bottom Line: TCS needs to align this solution with its broader enterprise and manufacturing transformation concepts like the Business 4.0 framework and Neural Manufacturing to become an end-to-end transformation partner for clients
This platform will augment and enhance the manufacturing industry capabilities of TCS, starting from Manufacturing IT (MES, ERP, etc.), Engineering Technology (PLM, Software product engineering, Embedded engineering, etc.) to emerging and digital technologies (factory/plant simulation, AI, IoT, etc.), to provide a one-stop-shop for its clients’ manufacturing services needs. TCS will face competition in this space from offerings like IBM Plant Advisor, LTTS Plant Engineering solutions, etc. The advantage of TCS would be that it can steer the client conversation from an enterprise transformation point of view and is not limited to technology implementation. Its strategic frameworks (Business 4.0, Neural Manufacturing) and strong execution focus approach (Machine First Delivery Model) will provide clients end-to-end services opportunity. TCS has a strong presence in some of the process industries like Oil & Gas, Utilities, Chemical, and Consumer Goods, so it already has a broad client portfolio to target besides approaching the new logos.