Things are less likely to go back to the way it was anytime soon
Published on : Monday 10-01-2022
Senthil Kumar V, Head of Industrial Automation, Schneider Electric India.
How did the industry fare in 2021 after the initial impact of Covid caused widespread disruption in 2020?
The year 2021 infused a fresh life in the industrial sector. Getting acclimated to the ‘new normal’ took some time but the sector now seems to be back on track with stronger confidence and self-belief. The last couple of years has brought the importance of strong leadership and technology to the centre stage.
Automation is going to be a crucial component for India’s economic development and firms have started investing in it. MSMEs must count on automation to acquire a competitive edge. In the last few years, we have witnessed MSMEs responding well to the needs of automation and digitisation.
Moving forward, it is necessary to understand that uncertainties are going to remain a part of our life, however, with the appropriate strategy and technology it would be easier to establish flexible and resilient organisations.
What were the changes and new technologies businesses widely adopted in 2021?
Businesses hastened their road toward digital transformation and cloud computing by adopting remote working virtually overnight.
Universal Automation was a game-changer, propelling Industry 4.0 forward by ushering in a new era of a-la-carte automation. Schneider Electric's EcoStruxure Automation Expert, the world's first software-centric universal automation solution, is prepared to map its partners' and customers' digital transformation journeys. The goal of digital transformation is to create resilience and business continuity while also providing employees with a secure and remote working environment.
We live in an interconnected world where technologies such as IIoT, AI, and 5G have the potential to differentiate us from the competition.
There is an urgent need to develop the 'Industries of the Future' on the principles of biodiversity conservation, improved health and safety, and real-time monitoring and visibility. We encourage industry participants to embrace universal automation, sustainable efficiency, and digitisation as a means of accelerating economic recovery and empowering the manufacturing sector.
How with new strains of the virus appearing periodically, is the WFH culture here to stay and become a permanent feature?
Employee safety and wellbeing are important factors driving growth, stability and business continuity. At Schneider Electric, we believe that it is critical to achieve convergence between the workforce and the workplace of the future, especially in these challenging times. We have had a ‘Flexible Working Arrangement’ approach for the past five years to help our employees strike the right work-life balance.
Thus, shifting to work-from-home overnight was a seamless ride for us. We also conducted an internal survey which found that 83% of our employees want more flexibility. This further motivated us to introduce a permanent hybrid model across the company. This policy reflects our pursuit to create a working environment that can enhance the productivity and wellbeing of our employees. Things are less likely to go back to the way it was anytime soon. We believe hybrid working will be the new norm in the workplace of the future and organizations need to adapt their business models accordingly.
How is the outlook for 2022, given that a lot of lessons have been learned during the last two years?
India’s journey to Atmanirbharta primarily depends on its key sectors and manufacturing is the most crucial of them all. In 2022, there needs to be greater partnerships with established tech companies that can enable a 360-degree transition of industries to automation.
Further, to reap the benefits of the digital wave, businesses need to break free from the proprietary locked-in model and adopt universal automation. Organisations across industries have already started working on their digital strategies. It is now imperative for MSMEs to maximise their productivity and efficiency, as established players also strive to maintain their spot in the pecking order.
The idea is to arm industries with a range of technologies that can minimise human intervention, track and monitor processes and controls, visualise performance and challenges, anticipate issues and raise alarm or initiate due action, and help operators make informed decisions.
Climate change and sustainability are matters of serious concern. How sustainable are present business practices?
Our changing world calls for industries that can quickly and fluidly adapt, and that means efficient and resilient manufacturing. Digitisation has become one of the most potent weapons that industries can leverage to drive economic growth by enhancing productivity and driving sustainability.
At Schneider Electric, we believe that the time is right to make a bold move in the industrial automation segment. Our purpose is to empower all to make the most of our resources, while utilising technology to bridge progress and sustainability for all.
We are committed to reach carbon neutrality by 2025 and net-zero emissions by 2030, while for our end-to-end supply chain (including scope 3 upstream and downstream emissions), we have taken a commitment for carbon neutrality by 2040 and net-zero emissions by 2050. We differentiate our sustainability strategy by playing on both sides of the equation. Our digital solutions strive to drive sustainability and efficiency for our partners and customers.
Through our IoT-enabled EcoStruxure Automation Expert, we aim to enable digital transformation with a converged, network-centric approach, allowing IT and OT to work together to reduce the cyber-attack surface, thereby making operations more sustainable and efficient. We aspire to create the industries of the future that are eco-efficient, agile, and resilient through open automation for fostering collaborations for next-gen industries.
What are the technology trends most likely to dominate in 2022?
In 2022, we will continue to see accelerated adoption of digitisation and technologies across sectors, including manufacturing. Technologies such as Cloud and Edge computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, 5G, robotics, predictive analytics, etc., will still be a part of our business operations.
However, the coming years will see a level-up in these technologies as the focus will shift from surviving in an agile environment to thriving in it. The trends for 2022 will focus on the convergence of previously existing technology trends and will be a subset of what we’ve seen over the years. For instance, AI, IoT and 5G will converge and provide capabilities that we didn’t have until a few years ago. It will redefine the future of automation and will lead to a connected consumer revolution, where 5G will set the foundation for a more connected and intelligent environment with superior speed.
Senthil Kumar V is responsible for the Eurotherm Division spanning across 16 countries in APAC with accountability for P&L Management, strategy planning, top and bottom line targets, sales and marketing, business development, operations, customer management, finance, stakeholder and team management.