Warehouse automation is going to be a huge opportunity for robotics
Published on : Thursday 07-04-2022
Milind Padole, Managing Director, Affordable Robotic & Automation Ltd.
What is the story of ARAPL?
ARAPL was born in 2005 by the name Global Sourcing as a proprietary firm. In 2010 Affordable Robotic & Automation Pvt Ltd was formed and Global Sourcing was merged into it. We had put the Affordable word in our company name so that people will relate that robotic automation need not be very costly always. We started with one vertical of Automotive Welding robotics. Subsequently, in 2014 we started another vertical of Automated Parking. In 2021 we started Warehouse Robotic Automation.
What was the inspiration for this entrepreneurial journey?
While I was working in Germany from 2000 till 2004, I saw robotic automation coming to India. I always wanted to do niche business. In 2005 robotics was very much niche and un-affordable in India.
Despite all the advantages, the robot density of India is still in single digit – what are the factors inhibiting greater adoption?
Most of the parts required for robots are imported; to make the solution costly. In India due to the huge labour force and low scale still in many industries manual operations are viable. As the scale, several models, demand and seasonal variability increases, manual operations will not be viable. As the size of the economy increases, robotics becomes inevitable. In many industries robotics has already become a norm, like automotive, for example.
Also, we have to innovate a lot of automation to suit our country's needs. A lot of these automation solutions are made in developed countries where there is a severe shortage of manpower and also manpower cost is high. In India we have a huge workforce and also manpower cost is low.
As a solutions provider, what are the kinds of projects handled by ARAPL? What is the profile of the average customer?
In the Robotic welding space, we have been working with various automotive OEMs and their Tier 1. Also, many leading builders of Mumbai are our customers.
With the government keen on raising the share of manufacturing with many policy measures, do you see a demand surge for robotic automation?
Yes. It is directly proportional to economic growth. The larger the scale, the larger will be the requirement of robotic automation.
While the automotive sector remains the major user, the logistics and warehousing segment is seen as another driver. What is the situation on the ground?
Warehouse automation is a huge opportunity for robotics in developed nations. In India too it will start picking very soon.
Robots are now becoming more intelligent and easier to programme, paving the way for wider applications. Is the industry ready for the revolution?
Nowadays robots are Industry 4.0. They are connected with all kinds of AI. Yes, the industry is ready for this as it is optimising many processes in industry.
ARAPL is working at integrating vision-based systems and AI – what are the new solutions in the offing?
ARAPL has made many end-to-end warehouse automation solutions. We are offering these solutions to various warehouse companies on the RaaS model. RaaS is – Robot as a Solution – in which customers will be able to pay per use.
Milind Padole graduated from VJTI Mumbai and having done two stints of job with Mahindra and Comau, Milind's interest in robotics picked up on his assignment to Germany and he realised that the power of Robotics is beyond cost and productivity – it is just inevitable, it will soon become a way of life.
Having closely seen Mr Anand Mahindra in action, and the strike at Igatpuri plant right in the first year of the job, the resolve to start his own business was slowly gaining roots – somewhere he believed he had what it takes to go the road less travelled.