Hybrid systems will continue to exist in Indian manufacturing scenario
Published by : Industrial Automation
Sunil Mehta, General Manager – e-F@ctory (IIoT) Promotions, Factory Automation & Industrial Division, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt. Ltd. Chairman, CLPA 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 techniques are now being envisaged in almost every sphere of life. From developing energy efficient robots that use optimal energy routing and ordering techniques, using simple web cameras for image-processing based monitoring of traffic to time-slicing based computing models for low-resource mobile devices, it is heartening that the list of low-cost, energy-efficient products is growing each day. Since collaborative consumption services are making better use of existing resources (rather than requiring the use of new resources), they are therefore inherently frugal in nature and highly disruptive of many traditional industries and their business models. Developing nations like India and other Asian countries are important markets with sizeable populations but here cost-consciousness is an important trait. Clearly to tap this market to its full potential, practicability and reliability of the innovations is a necessity and so allocation of resources is cardinal. If the right amount of time and resources are made available for the frugal innovations, there will be good repercussions.
Computers and mobiles are examples of over-engineered products that also now have no frill versions. Can this be extended to industrial hardware?
We have observed growth of smart phones, Wi-Fi devices like tablets in the field of Industrial Automation and Manufacturing. Paperless environment, centralised storage of data and remote access for resources have increased efficacy of manufacturing as data required is nimbly available. Securely deploying mobile devices is a major challenge, especially as integration with business applications means more sensitive information is accessible. Various software managements systems can be used for enhancing the security. Instead of simply attempting to replicate traditional software on mobile devices, one should focus more on finding ways to optimise mobile-device-based systems. To a large extent, this involves identifying the data that is actionable and critical for users in the factory or the field by ensuring that content is available on mobile devices. With this pandemic situation and spread of Covid-19, in restarting the manufacturing operations, smart devices like mobile phones and tablets will play a key role. With Smart Manufacturing and our e-F@ctory solutions, it is easily possible to integrate these smart devices with our Factory Automation Products like PLCs, HMI, etc.
Post lockdown many of our manufacturing facilities are picking up their operations trying to scale up manufacturing. In my view, as of now, many organisations and associations are already working in this direction and we have various Skill Up programs for industry members. During this pandemic, Online Learning and Webinars are organised by various companies for their products and solutions for Smart Manufacturing. We have large industrial base in various industry verticals, and we need to have organised efforts to support Smart Manufacturing initiatives.
In similar vein, Scalable Automation is a concept that is often in focus. How does this work in practice?
From e-F@ctory Solutions for Smart Manufacturing, the automation solutions are scalable and can be implemented in a step by step manner. If the end customer or manufacturer is focussed upon specific area for improvement, these solutions can be deployed in small ways and after successful implementations and results these solutions can be extended to the complete shop to plant levels. Integrations of manufacturing facilities, testing and quality controls, utilities can be done in phase manner. We at Mitsubishi Electric India have implemented e-F@ctory at our manufacturing plant at Pune. Prior to this e-F@ctory has already been implemented at our various manufacturing facilities in Japan and across the world.
In recent years, some automation companies are also propagating hybrid systems with manual workstations rather than full automation. Does this make better sense?
Hybrid systems will continue to exist in Indian manufacturing scenario. If you observe the statistical facts regarding implementation of Robotic Products, the demand will definitely be increasing for Indian industries; at the same time robotics are mainly used for operations in hazardous areas and where speeds of productions are very high. Although it may be difficult to understand now but these trend will continue for some more period.
Apart from policy changes, what are the essential requisites for a self-reliant economy?
There are many things required for self-reliant economy, we need to see possibility of manufacturing quality products within our country. For this we need to develop Skills with existing resources and Discipline within the organisations will also be an important factor. While implementation of e-F@ctory Solutions for Smart Manufacturing different departments and stakeholders need to be brought together and importance, benefits of such implementations should be discussed before implementation. We have a long way to go for a self-reliant economy and post lock down our manufacturing industry will surely move into that directions. In my view we have a pool of young talent and what we lack now is the team work and proper planning.
How do you see automation transforming the future?
In the past two decades we have seen massive transformation in our manufacturing industry and I believe it will only get better from here. With the emergence of Internet, 4G and further 5G technologies, automation will touch various aspects of our life. With Smart Phones, Tabs and various wireless devices our shop floors will witness lots of integration of these devices and Factory Automation products like PLCs, HMIs, VFDs, AC Servo Systems, Robotics, etc. Post pandemic and step wise release in the lockdown, our manufacturing automation will provide a better future.
Your feedback on how Industrial Automation magazine, the technology platform is doing being an industry voice and promoting/covering technologies?
Industrial Automation magazine is always leading and touching upon latest technological trends for our Indian industries. The magazine covers different viewpoints and latest Industrial trends in a simple and easily understandable manner.
Sunil Mehta is General Manager, Automotive Business Development, Factory Automation & Industrial Division, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt Ltd.
#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