Continuous improvement is critical part for any self-reliant economy
Published on : Tuesday 01-09-2020
Sudhanshu Mittal, Head CoE & Director – Technical Solutions, NASSCOM Centre of Excellence, Gurugram.
From global MNCs to local companies, frugal innovation has spawned many success stories. Time to devote more effort and resources in this direction?
It is said that necessity is the mother of the invention. For a country like India, we can't have the copy-paste approach to innovation from places like US, Europe, Japan, etc. In our case if innovation is not frugal, it is not going to get accepted. Anybody trying to develop innovative solutions for Indian users has to keep in mind not just the frugality of the solution but also the fact that users are not likely to be tech-savvy and hence the solution has to be easy to adopt. Any solution developed has to work under Indian conditions, which may involve problems like intermittent connectivity, electricity problems and low to moderately skilled workers.
Computers and mobiles are examples of over-engineered products that also now have no frill versions. Can this be extended to industrial hardware?
If we say that a category of products is over-engineered, it means that the sector for which the products are being considered cannot use the capabilities being engineered. Computer industry has had astronomical growth in terms of amount of memory, processing capacity and storage. Today a mobile phone costing Rs 5000/- has more memory, processing power and the storage than most of the high end servers being used about 15 years back which used to cost easily in lacs at that time. The reason for this astronomical growth is that these products have found usage beyond the basic functionality with which they started, which led to heavy research in R&D, thereby pushing the capability growth.
As far as industrial hardware is concerned, the fundamental logic would remain the same. Any product, which is able to find strong traction in the market will also be able to attract high level of investment to make it more cost efficient and capable. For example, look at the solar cells and Li-Ion batteries. Both of these are attracting huge R&D investments, which has led to high growth in capacity and lower costs. In sectors where output may be limited by physical constraints, there can definitely be significant gains by using the digital technology to improve the productivity, quality and safety of the output as well as working conditions.
At a time when India is trying hard to scale up manufacturing, can there be more organised efforts in this direction?
The organised efforts will have to focus on how to effectively use the upcoming technologies to improve the output of manufacturing enterprises. Technologies around machine connectivity, robotics, AR/VR, analytics/AI, Robotics Process Automation, quality inspection, 3D printing, etc., have the potential to significantly improve the manufacturing productivity and give boost to Indian manufacturing by making it globally competitive. However the adoption by users is still lacking. The Government of India is making all efforts to promote the technology adoption through centres like NASSCOM Centre of Excellence – IoT & AI. However there is a large role to be played by various manufacturing associations to educate their members in the benefits of technology adoption and the need to make the required investment. For technical aspects they can work with entities like NASSCOM CoE – IoT & AI, but it is imperative for manufacturing associations to push their members to proceed with technology adoption. There is no other way.
In recent years, some automation companies are also propagating hybrid systems with manual workstations rather than full automation. Does this make better sense?
In any automation, the cost of solution increases exponentially after a point. Depending upon the complexity of the product and size of company, there are many scenarios where partial automation would deliver higher RoI compared to full automation. When we talk of Industry4.0, users have to define how much technology is right for them. For small to mid-sized companies, hybrid approach definitely makes more sense than full automation, both commercially and societally, by keeping the jobs. They have to identify the high impact repeated work item areas and proceed with automation there, leaving non-repetitive items to be handled manually.
Apart from policy changes, what are the essential requisites for a self-reliant economy?
Continuous improvement is critical part for any self-reliant economy. There will always be the pressure to import rather than make locally and if local industry cannot effectively meet the requirements, the self-reliance would not work. In the globalised world, you cannot be an island unto yourself. Making the industry competitive is the only long term approach for success.
How do you see automation transforming the future?
Automation, whether full or partial, is necessary part of the industries. Covid-19 has disrupted the normal working style and large number of companies are trying to work out how to keep their operations running in the face of any such disruption in future. Automation and digital technology adoption are the key to this. As stated above, everybody will have to decide how much automation is right for them keeping in mind their unique conditions.
Your feedback on how Industrial Automation, magazine, the technology platform is doing being an industry voice and promoting/covering technologies?
Industrial Automation magazine is playing a key role in bridging the gap between manufacturing industry and technology solutions providers. Through its outreach efforts the magazine is building awareness to the manufacturing companies about what kind of useful and innovative technologies are available and how users can benefit from those. This is the critical requirement for the Industry4.0 ecosystem which is being fulfilled by the Industrial Automation magazine.
As Head – CoE Gurugram & Director – Technical Solutions with NASSCOM Centre of Excellence – IoT & AI, Sudhanshu Mittal leads the overall operations of Gurugram CoE and is also responsible for driving the solutioning of the problem statements brought by CoE partners.
Vertical focus includes Automotive and Standard verticals for CoE-IoT. The key responsibilities include: a) Driving the solutioning of the problem statements brought on by CoE partners; b) Driving the Automotive and Connected Vehicle activities for CoE; c) Driving standard body participation from CoE-IoT for Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) and Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC); d) Driving academic research engagement activities; and e) Niche partner engagement like Indian Army, Railways, PSUs, etc. The views expressed are personal.
#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