Increased digitalisation leads to better diagnostics and asset management
Published by : Industrial Automation
What are the latest trends in automation for the industry?
The latest trend in automation is towards increased digitalisation leading to better diagnostics and asset management. Better diagnostics implies earlier diagnosis of an impending problem in the equipment/system. This has led to cost savings in terms of maintenance management and inventory management. Predictive maintenance has led to better asset management.
The advent of digitalisation can be denoted differently in different regions, viz., IIoT, Web-4, et al. All these have led to enhanced use of Fieldbus technology.
Is the pace of changing technology too rapid for user industries to adjust to?
Probably, this true to some extent. Newer technologies are flooding the market. In many of the cases it is the same thing marketed with a different lexicon. The user is often confused as to what to adapt to. Only a few are able to discern to the actual need and the sky being offered by the marketer.
Are the user industries, especially SMEs, adequately informed and equipped to handle digital transformation and its challenges?
I think the SMEs are well aware of the emerging technologies and the need for digital transformation. The SMEs are a vital cog in the manufacturing industries as has often been enumerated with supporting statistics. Many who are vendors to the OEMs and Tier 1 companies are now getting into the digital groove as a compliance requirement to fit into the supply chain. There is sustained campaigning by the OEMs and the consultants towards the new wave that is engulfing all of us – the SMEs cannot remain isolated from this new reality.
The Indian market always has its own challenges when it comes to technology adoption, especially the RoI factor. Are things changing?
Things are changing, albeit slowly. For many of the emerging technologies, backward integration is not an option. That means, one who intends to upgrade to newer tech, has to build the house from the first brick itself. Secondly, the newer technologies do not give any advantage in terms of sensor technologies. These are more focussed on data interpretation techniques. These techniques pose a different set of challenges.
Besides, RoI factor, there is not adequate trained man-power available to cater to the user requirements. One has to depend on System Integrators who themselves have limited exposure and knowledge. There is not enough exposure in the universities and it is to groom the newer generation to take up the responsibilities on day one. Most of the digital transformation is happening due to initiative by senior management. Adequate support at the bottom of matrix limits their decisions for a comprehensive transformation.
Is there a fine balance between total automation and safeguarding jobs?
This is often the conclusion of uninformed or one sided views that persists despite the fears having been found highly exaggerated. Total automation does not really imply reduced job opportunities. It is just shifting of the light from one arena to the other. Of course, this has generated a demand for entirely different set of skills and knowledge. Industry is gearing for the transformed demand. So there is certainly a need to acquire new skills where the government has launched several initiatives in association with the industry as well as academic institutions for skilling.
Neeraj Agrawal is Executive Director (C&I) at Nuclear Power Corporation responsible for 5 verticals, viz., C&I systems, Electrical systems, Simulators, IT and R&D of digital C&I systems of nuclear power plants. He has expertise in design and development of digital C&I systems and has successfully developed and deployed large number of systems in nuclear power plants.