Digital Transformation is creating a safer, more informed and secure workplace
Published by : Industrial Automation
Anil Bhatia, VP & MD, Emerson Automation Solutions, India
From global MNCs to local companies, frugal innovation has spawned many success stories. Time to devote more effort and resources in this direction?
Frugal innovations are about delivering more value at the right costs, without sacrificing the quality of the user experience. These are not merely cost-cutting measures or a response to financial constraint or a tepid economy. Rather, across the developed world, companies are beginning to use frugal innovation as a growth strategy. At Emerson, our focus is on insight and innovation. We have developed a comprehensive network of engineering centres with professionals who drive our product innovation and provide unmatched expertise to customers around the world. Our engineering and R&D facilities, with round-the-clock collaboration capabilities, work across geographies and industries to measure, control and optimise, process management, climate technologies, industrial automation, and commercial and residential solutions and services. In India, Emerson has six engineering research and development centres, many working across multiple industrial spaces to provide high quality engineering services to Emerson businesses worldwide. Our focus continues to be to develop a large scale efficient and cost-effective domestic technology and engineering ecosystem.
Computers and mobiles are examples of over-engineered products that also now have no frill versions. Can this be extended to industrial hardware?
Computers and mobiles designed for a consumer market have a different demand and requirement. When it comes to industrial hardware, we deal with a dynamic, real time environment and what we deploy has a direct bearing on productivity, reliability, safety and environment. Therefore, the more fitting term to use here would be ‘modular and scalable’. The industry needs modular and scalable products and solutions so that the initial investment remains fully secured and the product can be continuously expanded as per the needs of the customer. This is what drives product innovation at Emerson, where we design with the latest technologies with options to enable specific features/functionalities to cater to our customers across diverse industry segments. We see this with our Plantweb digital ecosystem that helps our customers through scalable deployments that build on our legacy of technology and service innovation. Of the two families of applications in the Plantweb digital ecosystem, one is predefined and infrastructure agnostic, while the other is more complex, highly configurable, aids deeper analytics and are designed to integrate with bigger plant infrastructure that our customers may already have.
This also draws attention to the critical need to engage in training post-deployment so the products/systems deliver the highest value to our customers. Emerson’s innovative digital platforms combined with edge analytics provide a user friendly, guided interface for improved ease-of-use. There real time alerts that are persona defined to help optimise industrial processes to run safely, securely and reliably while helping realise higher performance of operations in any environment.
At a time when India is trying hard to scale up manufacturing, can there be more organised efforts in this direction?
In the last decade, India has come a long way in promoting manufacturing in India. Industries are pivoting towards innovation – and our Honourable Prime Minister’s Make in India and the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan initiatives are its building blocks. These are important steps in the right direction towards scaling-up the country’s manufacturing capabilities and towards the vision of becoming a US$5 trillion economy.
It is India’s manufacturing prowess and local ingenuity to make in India for India that has helped Emerson find a strong engineering and innovation footing in this region. Nearly 70% of Emerson products for India are made in India. We have made significant investments in new and upcoming manufacturing facilities at Chakan, Pune and Mahindra World City, Chennai. Now our vision for India as Emerson’s manufacturing hub is to serve customers in India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In fact, by deploying digital technologies we can empower our biggest asset, people, with the right technologies and tools and improve safety, reliability, emissions and optimise production capabilities significantly.
In recent years, some automation companies are also propagating hybrid systems with manual workstations rather than full automation. Does this make better sense?
Surely there are some areas of the industrial ecosystem where hybrid systems will still be used, but I feel strongly that this will continue to advance at a very rapid pace and more and more components of the ecosystem will fully rely on automation. Beyond full automation, we are seeing that Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning technologies are being utilised to predict equipment and process disturbances in advance of issues.
In similar vein, Scalable Digital transformation in Automation is a concept that is often in focus. How does this work in practice?
The industry has now accepted that Digital Transformation is no longer an option but a necessity and all the organisations who do not embrace this will face extinction in this age of highly competitive business environment. The big question then is how to deploy this technology. I strongly believe ‘Start SMALL/Think BIG and Move FAST’ will be the key strategy for deploying Digital Transformation in Process Automation. As a Digital Automation Solution company, Emerson’s solutions have always been scalable keeping in mind the future application and thus we ensure that our users’ investments are secured.
How do you see automation transforming the future?
Digital Transformation is creating a safer, more informed and secure workplace. With rapid development in technology such as Artificial Intelligence and Augmented/Virtual reality, industrial automation is at a tipping point. This leap in technology permits complex activities such as virtual inspections and simulated trainings to be completed without any challenges. The automated operator technology with mobile workforce and augmented reality along with connected services is the way the future plants will operate; and with less complexity and better reliability.
Apart from policy changes, what are the essential requisites for a self-reliant economy?
There will have to be multi-dimensional and multi-stakeholder action to achieve a self-reliant economy. Circling back to innovation – it remains a very important aspect and will have a major role in accelerating India’s growth story.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created huge uncertainty across the global economies, including India. At the same time, it also presents us with opportunities to create innovative disruptions across the economic ecosystem. Deploying new technologies at a rapid pace will be an important pre-requisite, and India will have to leverage its existing skill and innovation base in Healthcare, Agriculture, Education, and Infrastructure to help fast-track the creation of a resilient and self-sufficient economy.
Anil Bhatia is Vice President & Managing Director, Emerson Automation Solutions, India business since February 2017, based at the headquarters in Mumbai. In his current role, Anil drives growth for multiple business groups, focusing on providing process automation solutions across industries, with major focus on digital transformation. He is championing the campaign on diversity and inclusion for the organisation in India. Anil began his career with Emerson in 1995, and moved to international assignments from 1997-2005, operating out of various world areas including Dubai, Austin, TX – USA and United Kingdom. He relocated back to India in 2005 moving into a senior Project Management and Operations leadership role. After five years of growing the Systems & Solutions Operations business, Anil took over the Power and Water Business in India. In 2015 Anil then moved out to run the Power Business Operations for complete Asia Pacific operating from Mumbai. Anil is currently the board member of IIT-Washington University and is actively engaged with various industry bodies like USISPF, IHS Market and ISA Delhi. Anil is a regular speaker on digital transformation and process automation in various industrial forums and has published several technical articles on this topic. Anil has completed his Graduation in Instrumentation Engineering from the University of Pune. He lives in Mumbai with his wife and son.
#Septmber 2020 Magazine Cover Story
Frugal Innovations – Scalable Automation How frugal innovations and scalable solutions are helping build a self-reliant India. The Prime Minister’s call for a self-reliant India has inevitably brought into focus several issues faced by the domestic manufacturing sector, and its reliance on imports for critical technologies. Poor spend on R&D has long been a weak link in India’s manufacturing chain. It is against this backdrop that Industrial Automation invited a panel of technocrats to offer their views on how frugal innovations and scalable automation can help the industry overcome some of the challenges. To read the full cover story Please click here