Pilot study in smart systems launched as part of Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship


By Miranda Buckheit

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A pilot study involving academic and industry collaborators in smart systems has been initiated by Vittal Prabhu, professor in the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State, as part of his 2018-19 Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Fellowship.

Smart systems engineering involves sensing, networking and computing of various systems and products in order to automate them. The industrial internet of things (IIoT) system used in this pilot study was procured from RDL Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

“This pilot study is in the context of Manjula Industries, which is an Indian small-to-medium enterprise,” Prabhu said. “We’re combining expertise across academic and industry partners to help us better understand how IIoT-based sensors can monitor manufacturing machinery continuously and communicate the data in real-time for cloud storage, data analytics, machine learning and advanced decision-making algorithms.”

Manjula Industries was established in 2000 and is one of the largest regional manufacturers of precision horological components, such as watch crowns. Manjula Industries manufactures more than 250 variants of watch crowns with a capacity of 400,000 components per month.

Prabhu became involved with Manjula Industries while on a one-year sabbatical in India.

“We look forward to learning how we can use such technology advances to improve our operations and benefit our business,” said Badarinath, chief executive officer of Manjula Industries. “Our doors are open to professors, students and other companies to learn from our experience.”

This pilot is the first step in developing a collaborative network of academic and industry organizations. At this initial stage, the collaborative network consists of partners from the U.S. and India. Prabhu said that the experience and data obtained will be shared for research, education and training purposes in this collaborative network.

“It is important for us to understand how to harness advances in smart systems for improving our economy and society,” said Manoj Kumar Tiwari, dean of planning and coordination and professor of industrial and systems engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur. “We recently started a major research project funded by the Department of Heavy Industry with several manufacturing companies of Tata Sons as industry partners. In this project we will investigate IIoT, real time data analysis of inventory and resource optimization through rule-based simulations.”

Prabhu plans to use the data from this project in his team’s ongoing research in smart systems, along with using the data for material in his industrial engineering courses upon his return to Penn State for the 2019-20 academic year.

Prabhu’s Fulbright fellowship is focused on smart systems engineering for manufacturing and service industries in collaboration with various leading institutes in India. Key contributors to this study include the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur, the Siddaganga Institute of Technology, RDL Technologies Pvt. Ltd. and the Sahyadri College of Engineering and Management.

The Fulbright-Nehru Scholar Grant is jointly funded by the U.S. and Indian governments. It aims to provide U.S. faculty, researchers and professionals the opportunity to teach and conduct research at an Indian institution.


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Megan Lakatos




Home of the first established industrial engineering program in the world, the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME) at Penn State has made a name for itself in the engineering industry through its storied tradition of unparalleled excellence and innovation in research, education, and outreach.

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