Mr. Sid Verma with Hitachi Vantara talks Manufacturing and Need for Innovation for Future Success

In this week's Industrial Talk Podcast we're talking to Sid Verma, General Manager – Global Digital Manufacturing Practice at Hitachi Vantara about “Powerful Digital Manufacturing Strategies to Build a Business of Resilience for Future Success”. Get the answers to your “Digital Manufacturing Solution” questions along with Sid's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

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Scott MacKenzie, Sid Verma


Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting-edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's get there. Welcome

Scott MacKenzie 00:22

to the industrial talk podcast. This platform, the industrial talk platform is dedicated to you the women and men of manufacturing, the women and men of industry. The women or men who get things done, you are bold, you are brave, daring greatly. you innovate. And you're changing lives around the world. That is why we celebrate you here on this particular podcast. Another good interview Hitachi Ventura is the company. His name is Sid Verma. But once again, you want to go find him out on his stat card out on LinkedIn, you're going to have to type his first name in and that is, as Id d h. AR. th. Verma is ver ma, reach out to him. We're talking manufacturing, we're talking about, you know, the ability to have that history of success, especially in this world of Industry 4.0. Yep, sit brings definitely the truth, Bombs. So let's get a rolling. Yeah. What an honor. I mean, when we start talking about industry, we talked talking about manufacturing, we start talking about all of the wonderful things that are taking place specially, and the conversations that people are having companies people are having as a result of whatever this new normal is, it's it's really exciting. It's an exciting time to be in the manufacturing space. It's an exciting time to be in an industry, it's an exciting time to be able to an opportunity to have great conversations with industry leaders, like Sid, and many of the individuals at Hitachi Ventura, and talk about real solutions to real problems, to create businesses, manufacturing industry business that are resilient because the wreck, you know, we just got to recognize just don't throw it out there. This might happen again, we don't want to don't I'm not wishing that on anybody. But it could happen again. Unfortunately, why not today, right now, possibly yesterday, talk about strategies, deploy strategies that really ensure your business resiliency, why not? Now's the time. Technology is there. You hear me talk about collaboration, I'm telling you right now. You want to collaborate with these people that are on the industrial talk podcast, they're out there, they want to talk to you, they are at the cutting edge of innovation, right? They are. And they definitely are committed to education. There. It always dazzles me to see individuals like said and others that that they take to a certain extent, there's a level of humility there, they take this stuff for granted. And for me, who's constantly sucking it up and saying, Man, that's cool stuff. That's cool stuff. I am just always dazzled by how professionals, leaders within industry, leaders in manufacturing, just constantly push the envelope. And they're all it's all focused on solving problems, providing solutions, and doing it with a sense of speed and purpose. And so you gotta love that. And so this conversation was Sid is just right on the money and and they're doing some incredible things. And we're talking, just so that we're on the same page. One of the things that I did point out with to him, and I share it with you, before we get into the interview, is that there's a lot of companies out there, a lot of companies talking about, you know, IoT, talking about edge, talking about cloud, talking about everything that's all under the sun of Industry 4.0, it's out there, and I and I know that it's out there. And one of the questions that that was always intriguing with me, how do I how do I know who to who to trust? Who to pull into my inner circle, my collaborative inner circle to be able to have real meaningful conversations that makes sense because you're looking at executives that have to make these decisions. And who are you going to pull in you're gonna have to at least find companies find delivers of services that you can trust. Sit is right there. Hitachi Vantara is right there. All right, let's get on with the interview. Again, when you reach out to him because you need to write you need to sit he goes by said Verma. But remember, write this down si d d H AR t H. Verma you'll find it find him and reach out to him and I'll have all the contact information on industrial on his you know landing page that highlights him. So anyway, enjoy this conversation because and and take notes because it's really important about what what is CIT is talking about and why it's important for you as an industrial and manufacturing professional. Enjoy. Hey said Welcome to the industrial talk podcast absolute honor that you found time found time in your busy schedule to be on this particular podcast and share your insights and wisdom into manufacturing. How're you doing?

Sid Verma 05:42

I'm doing great, Scott. How are you?

Scott MacKenzie 05:45

I'm doing well because I get to talk to you. And we get to talk about manufacturing. We get to really be bold, brave and daring greatly in our conversation and we're gonna change the world. Before we get into your interview. Let's talk a little bit about who CIT is a little background on who it is. I know that you come from Canada. And are you a Argonauts fan?

Sid Verma 06:06

I am not. I am a tennis fan in Ottawa. No way.

Scott MacKenzie 06:11

Yeah, there you go. Okay, nevermind. I've been getting into hockey. But yeah, Senators, maybe

Sid Verma 06:19

I didn't my masters. I didn't have much money that time. So the only thing that came on the TV was Canada.

Scott MacKenzie 06:27

That's Canada for you. Because it doesn't come on down here. You know, well, you're you're in San Francisco, the Bay Area. You're not getting much hockey down there.

Sid Verma 06:36

Oh, no, not at all.

Scott MacKenzie 06:38

All right, give us a little background on who you are there said.

Sid Verma 06:41

Sure. So, I am right now the general manager of manufacturing for Hitachi Ventura. And I represent the global manufacturing business for Hitachi limited. Earlier to joining Hitachi, I worked for Siemens as the Global Head of manufacturing, in the newly minted IoT and consulting unit. I spent around two years at Siemens earlier than that I was in Deloitte for eight years, that I have created their industrial IoT practice have run it. And it was an absolute honor at that time to make a business from scratch.

Scott MacKenzie 07:14

I'm telling you, and you're talking about being a trailblazer. I mean, all of a sudden, now everybody does their stands. And they're saying that IoT, everybody understands digital transformation, or think they do, because pre virus, everybody has sort of this plan A to five, whatever your plan to begin their digital journey. But then COVID hits and all of a sudden, I need to speed my digital journey up relatively fast. Have you seen that on your side?

Sid Verma 07:44

Exactly. I don't think that that journey anymore. It became a burning platform. It's like, if I don't do anything, my my workers cannot go inside my factory stopped running. And just this whole idea of remote monitoring, being able to work safely using technology mean that manufacturing never occurred to them. Like I mean, the whole idea was people going and working. And machines were there to support it's kind of become the other way around.

Scott MacKenzie 08:11

Yeah, and it's interesting, and I think it's a beautiful, you know, we talk about how, you know, pre pandemic, but when we start talking about COVID, there's the there's the one side that there's a lot of pain, yes, absolutely understand challenging time. The other side is that it really took manufacturers and gave them the ability to truly hone in on what is important. And that's why that whole conversation of digital transformation really became I have to hone in on it. I've got to figure out how to keep the wheels turning into my my business. So it's important. So let's, let's talk a little bit about that. Okay. You're seeing and correct me if I'm wrong, you're seeing a shift manufacturer, let's say macro level manufacturer is starting to look more and more at the their, their digital journey, their digital transformation. Is that a correct statement?

Sid Verma 09:07

I'll say yes. So from my point of view, like everything has to run on continuous innovation journey. Otherwise you do not survive or do not stay in the business for a long time with digital is basically the next normal now. And means COVID has expedited the normal of five years to six months now. But from the time we have electrification to that is you needed to just do it to survive to now we have to do digital to survive. That is the core of the business. We no longer individual machines or individual people work and optimize their performance. We have to do it collectively, and be able to use some of the tools that humans cannot do while they're working to come from outside and then come help them. So that is kind of for me a natural phenomena. This is what you have to do. This is the evolution of manufacturing. The next step

Scott MacKenzie 10:02

right now is digital. And I like that and I like that. It's it's not a sense of you know, I mean it's it's just a fact that you manufacturing have to begin that digital journey today. In fact yesterday right and and begin that and interact and collaborate with individuals like yourself companies like Hitachi Ventura to begin that thought process. Don't Don't be in a position where I have not, you know, I didn't do it. So I'm behind. No, now Now is the time. And and I think you're spot on. And I like the statement continuous innovation journey. Remember that listeners continuous? And that's not just what the digital journey it is. It's just your life. Continue. make that happen. Now, with that being said, Said. People are people, cultures are cultures, internal, external doesn't really matter. What are your roadblocks for getting people to say, Yeah, I got it. I'm going to walk hand in hand with sit in tachi vantara. What are those roadblocks? What are those things?

Sid Verma 11:14

So one of the things about digital that is key is we try to take like data out of steps and not do incremental improvement. So if you see the last 40 years of the Kaizen and six sigma, or the incremental improvement, small, small steps, yeah, what digital allows you to do is look at the process and do major improvement. And a major improvement is sometimes hard to fathom. And imagine, if you have always done the same thing. Because if you can do a inspection, using a camera using AI, you don't need five people. And you can do it at every step, then rather than doing it at last step. And then you can kind of skip the whole scrap and everything else. But this is not like a simple improvement of fixing things. This is like a monumental change in which you will do things. it's sometimes hard to take that leap of faith, and also trust that it will work. I'm telling you,

Scott MacKenzie 12:10

kind of. Yeah, you're you're you're you're a heretic with you're talking about in manufacturing, a make a major, major improvement, holy cow, but it can be done. Right.

Sid Verma 12:23

Yeah. And this is what digital is doing, like digital is not exactly letting you jump a couple of steps in the cycle of continuous improvement that we were used to. But it done

Scott MacKenzie 12:37

the journey. So once again, the resistance the roadblock is culturally I'm not comfortable with making major steps I'm comfortable with let's say my eyes on and and being able to make those incremental improvements and constantly work for the you know, just continuously improve, right. And now we're coming in with this new industry for Dotto, whatever it might be, and it's everything under the sun, and it's going to solve all our problems. Major and and that is really from a cultural perspective, uncomfortable for me

Sid Verma 13:07


Scott MacKenzie 13:08

How do you break into that and and create comfort for a manufacturer to say exactly

Sid Verma 13:17

what, especially in the manufacturing sector, people like to know that you have done it before. Because this is not like mean imaginary stuff. Correct. It's not marketing that you can say. And if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. You can fix it, manufacturing, you have to fix and do it. So the main, so my clients and my company itself would like us to prove it beyond doubt that this is actually working. And we need to look at not only an MVP, which was a three or four years ago problem that let's do an MVP, and we'll solve everything. I got to stop you right there. You're saying in V is in Victor p What? What do you say

Scott MacKenzie 13:53

that they call it the minimum viable product? Got it. Thank you minimum viable product, MVP. Got it. Go continue. Sorry about that.

Sid Verma 14:01

So when we started this journey on digital transformation, people say let's try something we will create a proof of concept, we will make something that will show to the world that it works. And then last two, three years, it never went too far beyond an idea. People saw really good videos on LinkedIn. But you go back to a production line still the same like what we have seen is we need to prove it beyond doubt that this thing works on in all the integrate things that the manufacturer does in the job. And that is the comfort level we have to provide. We have to spend some time and energy in building those proof of concept which actually solved the whole thing. And repeatable you sell the whole thing. So the manufacturer will tell us you do it, I allow you but you have to make sure it runs for one year. And my people are kept on doing it. Not just like you have a good idea. You gave me a software and you walked away. Nobody use it. Yeah. And and one other layer that I wanted to bring forward is all that digital stuff happened at the enterprise software layer before? Correct? You have the earpiece? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Up front big planning. But on the floor, people were still weltering using machines sewing, there was no transformation there. Correct. Like, and now the transformation is at that level.

Scott MacKenzie 15:21

So yeah, that's interesting. I had that sort of aha moment, I said, you know, you had these enterprise systems that whatever that, that time in our, our manufacturing life was like, everybody's doing this enterprise type of approach, okay, it's gonna solve all problems. And it didn't, it just created a big system, and nothing to feed it. The only way of feeding it would be this guy like me fat fingering this information in now with this whole IoT, IoT digital transformation. I've just been able to collect that data seamlessly. Now I've got to venture into the world of data analytics and figuring out what it's telling me. Right? Exactly, yeah. So listeners, what I hear when I would have what I heard, so talk about and this is real important, specifically here in this digital transformation journey, is a history of success. Right? And you can demonstrate that because that's where that's where me as a manufacturer would be get a little nervous. Because I, I have my process, I've laid it out a manufacturing, whatever it is, I understand when that assets going to go down, possibly whatever it might be, I have a feel. Now you're asking me that I can put these solutions, digital solutions within my process. And I lose control. And that that sort of that thought that I comes I I'd normally just touch that motor. Now you're telling me I all I have to do is look at a screen and trust that data. That's that's a that's a difficult challenge.

Sid Verma 16:58

Yeah, I mean, compounded on this challenge has a lot of people have promised and companies Oh, and and nothing worked. Like, I mean, that is the part of I was saying correct. The proof of concept world, the startup world Good idea. That worked in, let's say Telecom. Let's hope it works in manufacturing, great idea. It looks like it's gonna work. And we put it on top of a motor and it didn't work and the motor blew. And sometimes people got hurt and the product got destroyed. As your, as a manufacturer, you're gonna give it a couple of tries. And then you're like, Okay, I'm done. I'm not going to give any more people. I'll even

Scott MacKenzie 17:37

give you one try. And if it fails, I'm kicking it over the, you know, over the bridge, right off the bat, you're spot on. And I forgot about that. And I was going to ask you about it. If I had a nickel every time said that somebody came to me and said, we're AI or IoT specialist, or I'm an AI person, or I'm an edge person or I'm a cloud person and I do all of this stuff and I link it all together. We wouldn't be talking I'd be on a you know beach sipping mai Tai's because everybody's out there. And they're all talking about that. And if I do a search, on my website, or on not my website, but out there, I'm going to pull up a gazillion hits on IoT, and u right, it gets down to trust. I love it.

Sid Verma 18:23

Yeah, and not everything can be like transferable a lot of the IoT came from the telecom, like Cisco and at&t, they did a lot of that, and they wanted to use that that skill set only transferred a little bit. And then you need a different level of expertise to bring it down to manufacturing versus health, healthcare and biotech. And that is where you need an expertise, like we one of the reasons my clients is why should I trust you versus somebody else. And the reason is, we have to actually do and prove that to our own company in Hitachi. And same thing when I was in Siemens, like same thing, like the companies like industrial companies like to spend a little bit more time. So we are usually behind the curve. But we have to prove to ourselves before we go to tell the client that hey, I actually can solve your motor problem. It's not that glamorous, it's hard work. And it is rewarding once you finish it. But you have to do this. Every asset every processor time

Scott MacKenzie 19:22

it is in and I think there is this silver bullet mindset to a certain extent where Yeah, I bought I bought that device, I've stuck it out on my motor, I should be resolving the problem ASAP. And I've just tried to solve that problem. Yet there's there's a lot of intellectual and sweat equity that goes into that device being stuck on that motor, shall we say? And that's where the real that's where the diamonds are, right? True Value true efficiencies, and finding individuals the human side that can dig That stuff up and be able to make that stuff work. And that information. Now, with that said, Where do you I mean, it just seems like it's at a blistering pace it. I mean, I can't keep up I went. Last year when we were able to go to conferences. I was in Barcelona, I have IoT solutions World Congress, or IoT solutions. Anyway, and it was just technology at this blistering pace. And it's when it's pre virus, I was upset because I couldn't keep up with it. Now, it's like, everything is so fast and everything, where do you see it going? said,

Sid Verma 20:41

Yeah, I mean, even I have challenged keeping up.

Scott MacKenzie 20:46

I'm sorry to hear that. Because I am, holy cow, you're in it.

Sid Verma 20:51

It is true, like, the new ideas are always there. And it takes time to challenge and I test it out. But from what I have seen in this world is we started with the big data thing. So what it Yes, people have done from the big data, and be able to ingest and be able to do like how you run your Google Maps and Facebook, like behind the scenes, there is a lot of analytics and AI going on. And what we in manufacturing said hey, we can use some of it, we are quite behind. And we'd like to reproduce that. So, what happened from the first generation was we started having an IoT platforms crack you get the ptcs of the world, a commodity of the world. But then platforms are more horizontal or generic like somebody has to go solve a problem. And that is the next few years of doing PLCs or proof of concept mdps which took them which got everybody excited, but then nothing got solved, except for few easy stuff. From from where we are like last two years of the people said okay, I get all the stuff like you need a system integrator to do custom stuff, you need a platform. Okay, still not solving my problem, like at the cost level I need. That Yeah, one thing is, the other thing is the most of the companies now have done enterprise level solution. So they all have the RPS and me as is. So they said, okay, we are now good on planning. Now, the frontier is the people who are actually working the process getting done, I can use some technology to get data out. I can borrow something from the IT world to do big data analytics. Conceptually, it looks like we have everything but why is it not working? And so for me that right now, the challenge that I faced in last two years of Siemens, and and Hitachi is to take those generic platforms to convert a user level solution of persona based solution, maintenance manager on a modern need the solution? Yes. And what will that take me to work? And that is what my challenge is, because that is the frontier of digital transformation for manufacturing right now,

Scott MacKenzie 22:54

you got to be solving problems, right? There is still there, the problem still exists, but how do you? How do you link that digital solution and solving true problems? I love it. And I love the fact that when we start talking about you brought up a really good point, and I and I want to make sure the listeners hear about it, there's still a cost element to it, right? And you still got to do that, do I get an ROI on it, you got to balance it out. And so the only way you're really going to get to that point is that you've got to have that history of success, demonstration of the ability to be able to do that. And then be able to, with confidence, and with trust, be able to say, That's right, the value is there. Let's deploy it. And I feel comfortable. And that's that's like you said, the, the new frontier, you got to be able to do that. And And boy, there were a lot of there still are, there's a ton of companies out there, they're just saying, Yeah, we can do it. It's gonna save you a gazillion dollars. But it's going to cost you a gazillion and a half. You know those things. Because the neck, the new normal, whatever that normal looks like, my concern chin, you know, take away my concern. That's your responsibility. But my concern is, once all of this stuff passes, and we start feeling more comfortable with that next normal, whatever it looks like, it's not business, as usual, can't be business as usual. So whatever that next normal is, then we're going to take our eye off the ball, we decided that we wanted to go to this digital journey, and then we take the eye off the ball and then we go back to what sort of a Kwazii digital manual process. Do you see that? Or do you think companies are going to say, No, I want resiliency and I want to be able to commit to this until that next time. That's the message.

Sid Verma 24:40

You're right. So it means I it's hard for me to foresee what will happen. But I think the way digital transformation right now is accelerated it mostly to allow the work to go on. Allow remote monitoring to happen and allow safe working place to be created. I mean, we are Not able to produce the same level of productivity we had before, because the whole last 40 years was, let's put everything close to each other. So that there is minimum time wasted. Yeah, but now everybody's so close to each other. And COVID says, okay, you cannot be close to each other. So what we have done is we reduce the number of people hands, we have reduced productivity and, and brought output. A little bit of digital is helping. But what I foresee in the future is every process, right now, we don't have the luxury because of safety to do that. But every process will have to go through that return on investment versus concept like return on capital invested, because not every process will need digitization. Not everything needs predictive maintenance. Because it means there are other ways to design a process correct, like so means if a motor can fail, and more than $100, for three motors, they're in parallel paths one fails, the other one picks up, I mean, so you don't have to, you have to invest. So So that's basically where we will be, we'll be looking at each process and saying, which is the most critical failure mode, our outputs, and what does it cost me to do digital on it, and a lot of that other stuff below the radar will be left as is. And also, the other side is human dexterity. And training is much faster and cheaper, then you can actually program it. So if you do new things, and you need people to do like a little bit of AI in their head, rather than you program it, that part will always be there, in our computer systems are not as good as a human yet, especially without too much training. So I see that is happening from technology side ROI and human dexterity and, and engineers like me that we humans can feel and perceive things that a computer will

Scott MacKenzie 26:50

absolutely, you're absolutely spot on. So don't listeners out there, don't be concerned about this digital journey, this digital transformation, and changes within whatever the future looks like. There is always going to be room and the need for people. They're just different skill levels different all that there's always going to be that need now, we're gonna have to wrap it up. Are you active out on LinkedIn? Is that a good way to get a hold of you?

Sid Verma 27:19

I am Yeah, LinkedIn is my only social media thing that I am active on it is I like it.

Scott MacKenzie 27:24

Yeah, I do too. AI. that's a that's a, a free promo to LinkedIn. Right there. I like it too. Now, listeners, let's just sort of wrap it up. Just real quick here, I think a couple of key takeaways, continuous innovation journey. If you're in manufacturing, if you're listening to this, you've got to just embrace that continuous innovation journey. The other thing you need to look, if you're saying, Hey, I'm interested in this digital transformation journey, and I think it's important to us, you need to find a company that has that history of success, real success, that can really help you in this journey. And I think the last point is that there are a lot of people out there talking and talking and somewhat walking the walk of IoT and digital transformation. My recommendation is that you just go right to Sid and just get it right from him and Hitachi vantara because they're doing great things out there. All right, said we're gonna wrap it up. Thank you very much for joining the industrial talk podcast. We're celebrating heroes of manufacturing on this one. We didn't really hit too much on that. But you're a hero.

Sid Verma 28:36

Thank you, Scott. I think you had to the morning kind of messaging. So I appreciate that.

Scott MacKenzie 28:41

All right, thank you very much. All right, listeners. We're gonna wrap it up on the other side, you're gonna have everything that you need at industrial Stay tuned.


You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.

Scott MacKenzie 29:02

Well, thank you very much for joining the industrial talk podcast. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Sid Verma, I know I did. I am just an absolute junkie, when it comes to this stuff. I like to consume as much as I can. Because you know why? It's because I'm, I want to collaborate. I want to innovate. I want to educate. And I want to do it with a sense of speed and tenacity. That's what I want you to do. You got to reach out to sit, go out to his stat card on LinkedIn. And again, it's si d d, h, AR, th Rama vrma. Reach out. I'm guarantee you he wants to talk to you. And he's got solutions for your pain. Yeah, I'm definitely Alright, here's the challenge. hang out with people who are bold, brave and daring greatly, and I guarantee your world and your vision of this world will change in a positive way. All right, you'll be bold, you be brave, you dare greatly. Let's change the world together. Thank you. for joining the industrial talk podcast. We're gonna be back with another great interview shortly.

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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