An assembly system is often scaled up by scaling the degree of automation
Published by : Industrial Automation
Ravindra Barlingay, Industry Expert – Automotive & Energy Management.
From global MNCs to local companies, frugal innovation has spawned many success stories. Time to devote more effort and resources in this direction?
Covid-19 has affected the world. In fact, with legal rates rising, rich countries seem to have the highest number of cases. As a result of this failure or inability to respond to the crisis, developed countries have turned to innovative solutions. If there is something positive that can be taken from this unexpected opportunity, viz., a well-planned re-design – with a more cohesive environment and the ability to create limited resources – can help build a more cohesive, secure and sustainable future.
Computers and mobiles are examples of over-engineered products that also now have no frill versions. Can this be extended to industrial hardware?
An ideal may be a simple design and may have the opportunity of meeting the agenda and cost constraints. It is less complicated to enforce, preserve and enhance and affordable. This can save us from over engineering and can be purpose built than built for the purpose. Industrial hardware can be designed specifically and custom built considering the applications and use cases.
At a time when India is trying hard to scale up manufacturing, can there be more organised efforts in this direction?
In the last five years, the Digital India mission, and therefore the effort to spice up local electronics manufacturing, are crucial to the Make in India campaign. At present, large electronics manufacturers are looking to manoeuvre out of China, and are considering fixing shop in India. This presents an enormous opportunity for India, which has become the second largest mobile manufacturing country in the world.
There is an emphasis on two electronics manufacturing schemes launched alongside the PLI scheme, i.e., the Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS) and the scheme for modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC 2.0).
In similar vein, Scalable Automation is a concept that is often in focus. How does this work in practice?
The degrees of automation of a line are often gradually adjusted from manual to completely automatic through the exchange of standardised modules. An assembly system is often scaled up by scaling the degree of automation of the modules of every station. Therefore, modularity as a change enabler can be regarded as a prerequisite of the change enabler scalability in the context of scalable automation. Moreover, the other change enablers can be regarded as prerequisites for modularity. Compatibility is required so as to possess modules with a special degree of automation that are interchangeable. Universality means that identical modules can be applied at different stations to perform processes with different parameters.
Mobility of modules means they will be exchanged and moved easily, for instance, by means of rollers. In summary, it can be said that change enablers – compatibility, universality and mobility – can all be regarded as prerequisites for modularity, which in turn can be regarded as a prerequisite for scalability.
In recent years, some automation companies are also propagating hybrid systems with manual workstations rather than full automation. Does this make better sense?
In the absence of automation systems specifically designed for hybrid segments, manufacturers were forced to either use available PLC/SCADA systems (designed for machine automation) or DCS which are typically used by large, continuous process industries. New systems are designed to support hybrid industrial segments where engineering skills and manpower are in short supply. Such systems address the need of these industries for turnkey solutions that require a relatively small investment. By providing tight integration between control and supervision, and powerful diagnostics, these systems allow engineers and operators to work within an open, flexible, and easy-to-use environment.
Apart from policy changes, what are the essential requisites for a self-reliant economy?
A long-term structural shift making the economy more ‘self-reliant’ and fewer hooked into the planet economy. A step up in public spending and investment, aimed at promoting the welfare and raising the investment rate requires commitment of political leadership. Boosting demand and generating employment in the short term and adding to infrastructure capacity in the medium term. Policy reforms, including changes in land, labour and other policies, could yield positive results.
How do you see automation transforming the future?
Automation uses technology to automate tasks that required human efforts. Hyper automation deals with the appliance of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to increasingly automate processes and augment humans. Hyper automation today involves a combination of tools, including robotic process automation (RPA) with a goal of increasingly AI-driven decision making. It may often result in the creation of a digital twin providing real-time, continuous intelligence and driving significant business opportunities.
Your feedback on how Industrial Automation, magazine, the technology platform is doing being the industry voice and promoting/covering technologies?
The rapidly changing trends within the manufacturing industry and therefore the increased expansion within the processing lines to enhance productivity are impelling the expansion of automation and process control systems. Growing digitalisation and accelerating pace of change, Industry 4.0 revolution, increasing demand for safety compliance of automation products, and rising manufacturing sector in emerging economies further provides significant opportunities. I feel Industrial Automation magazine covers all these aspects and is the need of the hour or the various practitioners.
Ravindra Barlingay is Industry Expert – Automotive & Energy Management, with top management positions in the past with Endurance Technologies, Schneider Electric and L&T. A Thought Leader and Speaker, his domain knowledge spans digital transformation, IoT design development, embedded and electronics engineering, connected devices and communication gateways, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Automated Driving (AD), connected cars, automotive sensors, electric vehicle control systems, control electronics, battery management and system design, electrical system architecture, vehicle networking, smart grid, industrial automation, Industry 4.0 and IoT, cyber physical systems, digital applications, cyber security and industrial communication protocols. Ravindra has expertise in: Mentoring and directing more than 150+ R&D Engineers spread across global design centres which include India, China, France, Australia and USA for the Global Technology Organisation of Energy Management Business; and possess invaluable experience in: Managing, leading, strategising the growth of IoT and Connected Systems R&D team, a Centre of Excellence focused on IoT and Connected Products with a strong 110 R&D engineers for design, development, verification and cloud competencies.
-Global collaboration, strategic acquisitions for organic/inorganic business growth
-Delivered Industry Keynote addresses and panel discussions at multiple forums including India IoT Symposium 2018, Indian Technology Congress 2018, CPRI in 2014, NASSCOM, IIOT, FDP of Universities
-Member, International Advisory Committee of IIoT India 2019/2020 and Xelerate India 2019/2020
-Member, National Advisory Committee of IoT India 2018 and Xelerate India 2018
-Invited as a Special Invitee for Ministry of Defence, Government of India for Innovation in Defence Excellence (iDEX)
-Member of IEEE Executive Committee for Communications Society and IEEE Power & Energy Society
-Authored 4 Patents and 14 Publications in National & International forums
#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