Why adopting factory automation is essential
Factory automation is the incorporation of automation from end-to-end manufacturing processes. In manufacturing environments, automation often leverages technologies such as pneumatic systems, hydraulic systems, and robotic arms to create a more complex system. In a virtual interaction by mojo4industry, experts from the automation sector share their take on the role and the importance of factory automation.
Chandrashekar Bharathi, Founder and MD, AceMicromatic MIT, a part of AceMicromatic group – India’s largest manufacturer of CNC Machineskicked off the discussion by highlighting that India is going to become the most populous country that extra years, and by 2030, we’d have hit 150 crores in population. “Now, to put it in context, currently, in 2020, the numbers are, India has about one foreign 74 million jobs, of which about 60% is in the non-farm sector or non-agricultural sector, the agriculture sector is about 205 million jobs,” highlights Bharathi. In this scenario, experts highlight that India is going to need an additional 90 million new jobs in the non-farm sector.
Bharathi stresses on the point that there’s only one mantra to success, which is very rapid GDP growth. So in order to meet these jobs, India will need to add jobs at a 1.5% CAGR every year. Throwing light on his points, he added, “And for that to happen, we need to provide close to eight and a half percent GDP growth every single year, even a couple of percentages of productivity growth makes all the difference between India being able to meet its requirement of jobs or not with its requirement of jobs. So productivity is the key.”
On the other hand, Sunil Mehta, General Manager – e-F@ctory Strategic Planning at Mitsubishi Electric India puts in from a darker reality for the audience. “India’s productivity, right now is fairly low, compared to even our near neighbours like Vietnam or Indonesia, China, Korea, any of these countries, if you just take China as a context, they’re about six times more productive in India end to end,” speaks Mehta.
What do we need to do to drive productivity?
In the recent times when there are a variety of sectors in India, a few of them are pacing up than the GDP of the country while some are at a snail’s pace. “Now all of the sectors that are going to grow very fast manufacturing and construction actually have the highest potential. So, it’s very clear now that productivity is key. And manufacturing is key. In order to drive productivity,” Bharathi expresses when asked about the efforts that are needed to drive productivity.
According to Mehta, it is the key processes that need to improve; right from systems to management to even capabilities, skilling, and all of that and he is confident that if we do all of that, then the results will be as fantastic as a progressed nation. “If we do that, then India’s 2020 decade will be a decade of golden opportunity that was captured. And in order to do all of this,it’s very clear that automation and industry 4.0 would do two things one, it would accelerate these things to happen, the productivity gains to happen,” says Mehta to support his views.
Both the industry veterans agreed that standards, whether it’s for quality or reliability, security and safety. With the youth likely attracted to the newest technologies, it needs to be ensured that they are able toparticipate in this process and the way we would do that is through the use of New Age technology and automation.
“CNC controllers are being largely used in Indian manufacturing industries in last 20 years, there is a quite good growth that has happened over the years,” said Mehta. He is firm on the fact that India has got a good quality of engineers but feels that the only thing is that we need to improve upon our discipline. “In short, everything is available to our manufacturers to our system integrators, but we need to change we need to adopt this technology. So we need to improve the skills of our people who are already there who are working on the shop floor, we need to train them on these technologies. For any business, it is essential to get fully convinced with return on investment that is ROI,” highlights Mehta.
Assessing Value of Automation
Addressing the question, Bharati shared that one of the things that they have seen and done with the customers, especially in industry 4.0 or the digitization of factory operations is when we initially started this as India’s first mover in this space. “ We went to our customers and We actually have case studies, documented case studies, where ROI has been in the matter of few weeks. So, if someone invested a lakh of rupees or relative 10 lakh of rupees, they would actually see a return in that within a month’s time. So, that is the kind of ROI which will make people believe in automation,” he shared putting up an example.
While Bharati spoke about the ROI angle of value, the other side of the story is that in India, we have two types of machines available in the shop, one is the machines, and the other which has been bought in couple of years just now, and there are machines which are working for more than 10-20 year. In this case, the end users would not like to throw away those machines, so it’s possible to retrofit or recondition both machines using the latest components. So, keeping the mechanicals or keeping the machines as it is many of the parts with the very low investment, definitely the with the latest factory automation products, these machines can be upgraded. “In these years, in India automotive sector, it’s not new investments are coming up as far as the Greenfield projects are considered, but there are manufacturers buying some equipment or maybe realigning or making the new lines or something like that. And now the investment will come mainly in electric vehicles,” predicts Mehta.
E-mobility and the future ahead
Manufacturing itself has many different sub verticals. It could be vehicles; it could be capital goods and machine tools. It could be pharmaceuticals, chemical industry, agriculture industry, you know, the food processing industry metals. So there are about15 champion sectors that has been identified.
The adoption of automation to those industries is really no different than whatever manufacturer came capabilities already are. So we are in the process through IMT Ma, to reach out to the construction missionary, the agricultural missionary, the food processing, electronics, manufacturing, and some of these identified sectors where we believe it’s only a right positioning and maybe some tweaking of our existing products that would actually proliferate into these other industries, which are not traditionally seen as being catered by Indian manufacturing industries. But we believe that there’s a lot of optimism in the years to come that we’ll be able to do more and more in terms of supporting our local ecosystem, is a point that was unanimously accepted by both the industry veterans.
The initiatives undertaken by the MSMEs is a group of automotive companies in India that have come together for the formation of Industry Connect and Campus Connect wherein there is a sincere effort that goes in bridging the gap between industry as well as the universities so that the universities where the next generation is being groomed are trained as per the industry standards. On a concluding note Bharati added, “We are trying to give the inputs for the Industry 4.0 or what should be in India for the standards, as far as industry policy,we as a part of AI we try to make more connectivity with the industry and campus connectivity.”