Festo’s patented VTEM is first digitalised pneumatics platform in the world

  • Articles
  • Jun 26,23
The Indian arm of global multinational, Festo is functioning for over two decades in the Indian market. The company has a rich experience with developing new products and solutions over the time meeting the customer demands. R Joshi, Managing Director, Festo India in this interview tells us more about such innovations in digitalisation lead.
Festo’s patented VTEM is first digitalised pneumatics platform in the world

Kindly brief us about Festo India
We are a multinational company head-quartered in Germany with presence in about 176 countries and manufacturing plants at 14 locations across the globe. Festo India is operating since 1986 and has a global production centre in Bangalore. We have on offer more than 30,000 products. These products find applications across the industry, whether it is food, pharma, textiles, automotive, machine tools, plastics, rubber, agriculture, steel, power, etc. We serve both OEMs & end users with both pneumatic and electric automation products for Factory Automation as well as Process Automation. We serve the market through wide sales network of our own sales force and distributors closest to the customers.

Didactic arm of Festo focuses on training and skill development in the area of Industrial Automation. We support education institutes and industries through setting up training facility and training people.

According to you, what are some emerging trends in the machine tools industry?
In addition to automobile sector, the industry is constantly evolving and actively seeking opportunities in Agriculture, Aerospace, Tool & Die, Electronics & White Goods, etc. Further the geopolitical situation around the world has provided export opportunities for components and sub-assemblies.

Technically, the trend is to increase productivity and address sustainability. This means that machines will become more flexible, become more connected, become smarter. The machine may no longer be an isolated asset in one corner of the shop floor. It can have a voice for itself and it will monitor and mentor its own health through active interaction with the managing teams. With complimenting robots and appropriate automation, you will see productivity improvement in the machine shop. While MSMEs are seeking faster delivery times, the corporates are looking for end to end solutions where automation is a key ingredient for a successful recipe.

Could you please brief us about some of your new products/solutions?
Festo is known to be an innovating company investing 7 per cent of revenue in R&D. We file for an average of 100 patents every year.

We have introduced our new Servo Motor Drives featuring multi-protocol compatibility, which means compatible for different communication bus system. This is to provide flexibility to machine builders and reduce inventory. We have also introduced our range of IO Modules both remote and centralised in IP65 and IP20 class of protection with a higher speed of communication and to accommodate larger number of nodes.

With the introduction of our S-variant on the cylinders ADN and DSNU, we have made it further compact to address the concerns of SPM builders looking to save space on their machines without compromising on performance.

Our new Servo Pneumatic Balancer is making lifting heavy loads effortless and aims to reduce the ergonomic issues for labour on the shopfloor. We have also introduced a specific portfolio of products for EV segment to address safety issues. These are Copper, Nickel and Zinc free components and to be preferred for production lines of batteries for the segment.

A complete range of products have been introduced for the Lifetech segment addressing Medical Equipment and Medical Laboratory Automation featuring Piezo Electric Valves for flow, pressure and dispensing functions.

With automation and digitalisation gaining prominence, how are you gearing up to serve your customers better?
We see a big opportunity in use of digitalisation in our processes and products to better serve our customers. We have been well prepared for this revolution and have introduced many products. We have products from the field level up to cloud communication level. Our IOT Gateway is available both in hardware and software versions.

We introduced our Energy Efficiency Module - MS6-E2M which monitors Air Consumption, Flow & Pressure and in turn detects and controls disruption while logging data continuously. Cloud based dash boards are available to log and monitor data.

Our patented product the VTEM is the first digitalised pneumatics platform in the world, where you can configure your pneumatic controls using an app.

Our Simplified Motion (SMS) Series of Linear & Rotary Modules are IO link enabled to increase their performance levels and provide easier connectivity and communication. Many of our sensors for flow, pressure and position are also IO Link enabled. We have also launched Festo LX to offer online training courses for our customers to acquire and enhance their knowledge on automation, digitalisation & IOT.

We have launched Festo Online Experience (FOX), a platform with state of the art web features, wherein customers can get guidance on engineering design, product sizing and selection till ordering. The platform is equally user friendly to have seamless experience with Festo.

What kinds of new opportunities do industries like automobile, railways, defence and aerospace, electronics, energy, etc, present to the machine tools industry and your company?
India is on a growth trajectory and the opportunities are endless. With railways looking at modernisation of its coaches, the indigenisation of defence & aerospace productions & the localisation of mobile manufacturing are providing good opportunities for the segment. The white goods market which is growing year on year also needs a lot of Tool & Die Assemblies which must be done on precision machinery. The government push in terms of Make in India and Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme with specific financial outlay for these industries will provide further impetus for growth.

How was the company's performance in FY23? What are your growth plans for coming years?
Festo has continued to grow year after year. The current level of automation in India is low and has high potential to grow. The current focus on manufacturing will help realise the potential. As a global company, India is an important market and we have ambitious plans. We set ourselves a very ambitious target and are well on our path to achieve a growth rate that is higher than the previous years.

Being a visionary and innovative company, we have been doing all the right things and are able to sustain a leading position in the market. It is inevitable that we have our own strategies and growth plans. We are now having a good portfolio of products for the Lifetech segment like Medical Equipment and Med Lab Equipment, we are growing stronger and stronger in the process automation, and our electrical automation portfolio is poised to become a growth pillar.

We are investing heavily into new resources in manufacturing as we look up to the growth story of India, as it unfolds, but we are also equally looking at increasing exports of our products substantially.

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