Role of Scalable Automation in Indian Manufacturing Industry
Published by : Industrial Automation
Jabez Mendelson elaborates upon how, going forward, scalable automation is critical to the success of Indian manufacturing industry.
In recent years, industrial automation has been touted as the next big revolution within the global manufacturing sector. Automation is driven by an amalgamation of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, software and simulation tools, sensors, robots, computational power, data analytics, additive manufacturing and augmented reality (AR) among others. The convergence of the physical and virtual worlds has led to the evolution of smart factories that are ergonomic, versatile; enhance automation, and data exchange among equipment, sensors, and processes leveraging Internet connectivity.
An industrial shop floor without a single automated tool will be a challenging environment to fulfil current demands. Storage and warehousing will be the first operational tasks that would face difficulty as availability and on-time delivery of products define manufacturing facility efficiency. With the industrial sector constantly seeking ways to improve efficiency and productivity, scalable automated tools are needed to minimise human error and focus on reduced cycle time.
Steps for Scalable Automation in Indian Manufacturing Sector
The industrial revolution is a great opportunity for India to fulfil its manufacturing ambitions. The adoption rate of automation and digital technologies has been slow in India in comparison to other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The Indian manufacturing sector is still shifting toward the electrification phase with the adoption of technologies that function independently. The introduction and adoption of frugal innovations that can lead to scalable automation can be expected in the near to middle term as most of the organisations in the country are small and medium-size firms that follow the model of high production volume and minimal profit margins. This segment is resilient to adopting new technologies due to high-cost barriers and apprehensiveness towards the adoption of next-generation technologies.
The Indian market is focused on steadily increasing its global manufacturing market share with countries across the globe adopting advanced technologies and solutions. The Indian Government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative can play a vital role as an economic boost, especially post Covid-19. This initiative can be expected to encourage manufacturing companies to adopt automation and take advantage of trending technologies such as Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT) for accelerated growth in the global manufacturing market. On the back of their ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Government of India aims to increase the GDP contribution of the Indian manufacturing industry from 16% in 2019 to 25% in 2025.
A key focus of the Government’s initiatives is to encourage multi-national companies to partner and collaborate with locally-based Indian companies to manufacture products in India. Major global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have already leveraged the concept of installing smart factories in India, shifting the infrastructure in industries from automation to autonomy by partnering with potential companies to create new IoT and machine learning solutions for more frugal and scalable automated solutions suitable for digitised India.
Technologies Enabling Frugal and Scalable Automation in India
Manufacturing companies in India have started to leverage manufacturing IT solutions that enable scalable automation. IT solutions, such as operational technology, enterprise resource planning or supplier relationship management, and customer relationship management solutions are already used by most of the medium and large scale enterprises in India. In the Indian manufacturing sector, automation enabling technologies are slowly paving the way for adoption in use cases such as production rate monitoring, financial transactions, sourcing, scheduling, and planning. With the utilisation of technologies enabling scalable automation such as Big Data, AI, and Cloud Computing among others, all the entities within the value chain of the manufacturing industry are connected, thereby offering the power to autonomously control and monitor production operations. This in turn will lead to the evolution of self-configurable production lines in the future with advancements in frugal automation technologies. With the advancements in Industrial IoT and cyber physical systems, the exchange of data will be made easy, thereby facilitating efficient operations, reduced material wastage, and ensuring proper product lifecycle management.
The Way Forward
The adoption of Industry 4.0 and related technologies creates potential risks with the abundant data collected during operational activities. Thus, data security is an important aspect that has to be ensured while implementing digital technologies that enable scalable automation. As activities and operations in the industrial sector become automated with frugal innovations that involve the integration of machines and robots, tasks begin to require skilled labour. This will generate new opportunities and diminish the need for low skilled labour. The new era will soon demand every employee to be skilled and trained to meet new requirements.
Aside from the government initiatives encouraging manufacturing industries to shift toward the adoption of digital technologies, manufacturers must be proactively made aware of the benefits of cloud-based solutions, cyber-physical systems, and open source platforms to help them adopt factory automation solutions.
The integration of automation technologies leads to the development of new business models. With the proliferation of IoT, manufacturers are looking to offer their customers with more value-added services. With automation enabling technologies such as sensors and software being integrated with machines, new models of business and revenue generation are bound to arise. Customers will be more than willing to pay more for the additional value-added results which arise from the utilisation of automation technologies. Outcome based business models such as self-monitoring services that can be replenished automatically, business-as-a service-models that offer customised solutions to meet dynamic requirements and subscription-based models that have a fixed charge for the time frame purchased, can be some of the other forms of business
models which will be encouraged by industrial automation. Implementation of Industry 4.0 technologies will bring extensive benefits in terms of new business models, new application opportunities, different work cultures, and services.
Jabez Mendelson is working on key consulting assignments of coveted private sector/government clients, offering market intelligence and analysis after conducting secondary & primary research. He also develops strategy for market entry and competitive analysis that help clients in decision-making, creates compelling technology and business forecast models; and provides current and prospective clients with automation and electronics technology forecasting in the automotive and manufacturing sectors.