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Case Studies

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is a global company offering IT services, consulting, and business solutions. My task was to go through forms and summarise these cases in a pre-decided structure.

Cashless for Charity

TCS and its partners invent a brand new charity tin

 

With the growing demand for contactless cards in the UK, the use of cash is decreasing. This means that donations collected in charity tins are also on the decline – people don’t carry around that much small change any more. Tata Consultancy Services, along with the Charity Aid Foundation, Save the Children and Visa Europe Collab, created a contactless donation solution.

 

The Big Idea

 

TCS organised a design jam with Visa Europe Collab and its academic Co-Innovation Network (COIN) partner, The Royal College of Art, London. The outcome was a ‘contactless charity tin’ which they 3D printed. This tin could accept fixed donations of £1 or £5 with contactless cards – all it took was a simple tap. Then, the Charity Aid Foundation and Save the Children went on to test the solution on the field over a span of 100 days. They tested it in a range of sites in the region, including a concert venue, a coffee shop counter, a street fund raising drive, a tube station, and a shopping centre.

 

The Challenges

 

TCS was required to complete the project within 100 days, which was highly challenging. The team overcame this by arranging a design studio and setting up a rapid prototyping facility, which it outsourced to their academic partner, the Royal College of Art. Creating appropriate design thinking tools based on a thorough assessment of participant design thinking skill was a tough task. Another key challenge was carrying out consumer testing to prove the efficiency of their solution. 

 

The Outcome

 

People could now easily donate money to Save the Children using their contactless cards. At London Costa Coffee, there was a 20% increase in the donation amount without requests, and a whopping 60% increase when requests were made. At the tube station, the tin demonstrated the potential to boost donation amounts – 40% consumers chose to donate the higher amount. The team received positive direct feedback from donators. They found the service simple and speedy, and saw contactless tins as a practical new alternative. As a result of this success, TCS and Visa Europe Collab have entered a strategic partnership. Once industrialised, this solution will be used by 164,000 charity organisations across the UK, and be set up at retail stores.

 

The TCS team, along with its partners, has demonstrated the ability to use the power of design and technology to create solutions that make consumers’ experiences effortless, and to contribute to society at large. 

Automated Accessibility Assessment – Achieved

TCS takes IT accessibility to a whole new level

 

In 2014, Tata Consultancy Services took on the task of transforming the process of accessibility assessment by reducing the manual efforts, time, and costs involved. With its groundbreaking solutions for automated accessibility planning and validation, TCS equipped itself to reach disabled, aged, and rural users. It also set out to offer superior deliverables to its clients. 

 

The Big Idea

 

The process of accessibility assessment currently requires around 80% of manual effort. The TCS team developed a solution that automates it throughout.

 

In the sample assessment phase, the team used a statistical model to perform attribute-based sampling. In the planning phase, it performed test strategy and dynamic checklist generation, with automated mathematical optimisation and a rule based engine for decision making. To boost accuracy, it set up a continual learning model. With intelligent algorithms, the team provided coverage for 169 out of 325 checkpoints. That’s over twice the number of tools publicly available. With a behaviour based technique, the team identified and assessed complex non-semantic elements. This was possible for the very first time. In validation, it analysed two more aspects of automation – replacing human judgment with artificial intelligence, and the simulation of screen reader testing.

 

When integrated into a single platform, all these innovations provide users with ‘One Touch Automation’. With just the click of a button, one can carry out crawling on an entire website, sampling, automated validation of all pages, decide tool combinations for each page, and test case generation for manual testing. 

 

The Challenges

 

A key challenge was to eliminate human judgment – only then could TCS achieve 100% automation. Further, it had to figure out a way to identify widgets and non-semantic elements to test applicable guidelines. The team attempted to achieve automation in planning, which had never been done before. It had to develop an algorithm, a rule based engine, and perform mathematical optimisation to make this possible. Two other major challenges were the cost factor and the heavy dependence on niche skills in manual efforts. 

 

The Outcomes

 

TCS’s solution for automated accessibility planning is a major breakthrough. As compared to the current automation levels in accessibility testing solutions at 20-25%, the TCS team achieved levels twice as high at 50%. When the process was implemented, the company reduced project costs by 18% as per initial data. It succeeded in making the process of accessibility assessment faster, smoother and more dependable. Now, accessibility services are drawing clients’ interest. Just as importantly, TCS can now bridge the digital gap for disabled, aged, and rural users through better accessibility of software.

 

By achieving the goal of ‘One Touch Automation’ in accessibility planning and validation, TCS will go down history a key shaper of IT and communications. With this project, it has established itself as a thought leader and emerged as a pioneer of our times. 

Out of the Box...into the Land of Possibilities

Jaguar Land Rover’s attempt at transforming material production 

 

In 2012, Jaguar Land Rover set off on a remarkable mission to minimise the environmental impact of materials used in the automotive industry by reducing embedded CO2 in the stage of materials production – the second biggest impact phase. It worked towards altering the materials’ concepts – such that they outperformed existing materials in terms of NVH (noise vibration and harshness) as well as weight. 

 

Along with Brunel, Tate and Lyle Sugars, Dupont, Axion, and IAC, Jaguar Land Rover launched the LANDS project with a bid under the Innovate UK call, ‘Highly innovative strategic technologies in Low Carbon Vehicles’. 

 

The Big Idea

 

The main task was to combine two separate sustainable materials technologies – Bio based polymers and redirected waste products that would end up in landfill – to produce components through a viable supply chain. The team developed the idea of a sustainable bio-polymer with filler made of waste products from the sugar refining process. 

 

Over a three year period, the team researched, developed and demonstrated interior and exterior components made of various sustainable material streams. They performed several technical tasks – component selection, test development for NVH evaluation, physical testing, component and vehicle level testing, CAE analysis, and correlation activities.

 

The Challenges

 

To access the required feedstock, JLR had to establish a cross-sectoral consortium. This meant that they also had to look beyond their traditional supply chain and collaborate with other organisations like the Wolfson Centre at Brunel University. At one point, Dupont and Axion left the project. Since Dupont wouldn’t develop the Bio based polymers any more, the team had to hunt for alternatives.

 

Other issues the team faced revolved around materials. The suppliers were unwilling to share data from various batches of the plastics over time. JLR needed this data to understand variations in the plastics’ properties and to make comparisons with virgin grades. Moreover, recycled PP, one of the materials explored, was found to produce an odour. Brunel University carried out a thorough analysis and reached the root cause – the production process, which was then changed  and the odour was eliminated.

 

The Results 

 

Despite the challenges, the team succeeded in demonstrating a comparable NVH performance and massive reductions in embedded CO2 over existing materials. They were delighted to find that the LANDS materials would reduce CO2e  per vehicle by 15.6% on an L538. Approximately, this could save 2,019 tonnes of CO2e each year. 

 

The project established several points of innovation: 

  • Using Bio based ‘waste’ materials from the sugar industry in automotive load bearing applications
  • Using feed stocks from several areas 
  • Development of internal NVH noise loss test rig 
  • Unique polymer technology that supports the 2020 sustainability vision 

 

Jaguar Land Rover has set an example for manufacturers across the globe with this project. It brings to light the fact that there are so many possibilities to explore when it comes to sustainability and making a positive impact. With dedication to their cause and an aptitude for innovation, companies can go a long, long way in making the Earth a healthier planet. 

A Trailblazer in Technology

Tata Steel takes a mighty leap forward in sustainable steelmaking 

 

With its eyes on the cause of developing technology for sustainability in Oxygen steelmaking, Tata Steel launched a project to boost the recyclability of LD slag. The substance’s wide generation and disposal as part of industrial activities has raised serious environmental concerns – LD slag is highly phosphorous and rich in free lime contents. 

 

Tata Steel decided to change this. 

 

The Big Idea

 

The Tata Steel team used the novel process of pyromeTriCS, which involves the pyrometallurgical treatment of molten LD slag to generate a fine powdery mineral fraction that is low in free lime and rich in Tri-Calcium-Silicate phase. This mineral powder resembles commercial cement in terms of fineness and chemical composition. The company positioned the end product as a ‘Cement Blender’ that can be mixed with commercial cement at a proportion of up to 40% for normal use.

 

The team demonstrated the process at a pilot scale of 200 kg while focusing on generating recyclable fractions. The major breakthrough was the formulation of a modifier that offers a fair amount of control in slag fluidity. 

 

The Challenges

 

Deriving a high-value marketable product in the end of the process was among the Tata Steel team’s biggest challenges. With their cement-like mineral powder, the team considers this objective met. The second challenge was the rise in the slag’s viscosity during the process. The team dealt with this by formulating a modifier that not only reduces the viscosity, but is also environment friendly, cost-effective and safe for the slag’s recyclability. The third tough task was to eliminate phosphorus vaporisation at the 200 kg scale. Thanks to the modifier, the team reduced the vaporisation to below 1%. 

 

The Outcome

 

The process of pyromeTriCS has been carried out before, but it has succeeded only in lab-scale experiments of ~1 kg. The Tata Steel team demonstrated the smooth treatment of molten LD slag at controlled fluidity at the pilot scale of 200 kg – a remarkable development. Further, the team took the free lime content, initially at ~10%, to below 1% in the treated slag. Most importantly, the autogenous slag-metal separation post-treatment generated an extremely fine cement-like mineral fraction. This saved significant amounts of money in crushing, as well as handling costs in other recycling technologies.

 

The technology proposed by the team successfully demonstrated a cost-effective method of recycling LD slag by generating products for high-end applications. Studies confirmed that the powder they produced is essentially a low-free-lime tri-calcium-silicate rich mineral substance. It was found to meet cement standards and can be blended with commercial cement at a proportion of up to 40%. Besides this, the team also generated phosphorous rich metallic iron.

 

Tata Steel went beyond waste management and followed the philosophy of resource recovery and sustainability. It developed a solution that is cost-effective – and one that not only saves the environment from a great deal of damage, but also provides for improvement. They’ve proudly paved a path for many more to follow. 

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