3i EXPO Webinar - “Automation: The key tool to gain competitive edge”

  • Industry News
  • Feb 01,22
The first virtual discussion panel - as a part of the webinar series for 3i Expo 2022 - focused on opportunities for India in the post Covid world and importance of modern manufacturing technologies to achieve the goals of Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission, writes Rakesh Rao.
3i EXPO Webinar - “Automation: The key tool to gain competitive edge”

Industrial Products Finder (IPF) kickstarted its webinar series for 3i Expo 2022 - which is being organised by IPF from March 25-26, 2022 at Nehru Centre, Mumbai - with the first virtual discussion panel - titled “Aatmanirbhar Bharat: The story so far” - recently. The 3i EXPO - 3i stands for “IPF for Industry 4.0 and Innovations” - aims to bring all the stake-holders of Industry 4.0 on one platform. This year Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) will be the Presenting Partner, while Automation Industry Association (AIA) has joined hands as the Knowledge Partner for the Expo.

 

Discussion Forum

The Government is aiming to increase contribution of manufacturing sector to India’s GDP from present 17% to 25% by 2025. Post-Covid, global companies are looking at alternate destinations for sourcing raw materials and manufacturing their products. This presents a very good prospect for India to increase its share in the global trade. The Government of India has also launched Aatmanirbhar Bharat scheme with an intention to make India self-sufficient and be a leading supplier to the global manufacturing industry.

 

The Panel Discussion focused on the steps that India should take to become the first choice of global manufacturing companies and the role of automation and modern manufacturing technologies to achieve the goals of Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission.

 

The Roundtable saw participations of Anup Wadhwa, Director of Automation Industry Association (AIA); Milind Kulshreshtha, Founder & CEO of AiKiaros; Samiron Ghoshal, Senior Partner of Amrop; Sanjay Deshmukh, Head of Global Presales at Findability Sciences; and G Sundararaman, Senior Vice President & Head, Wipro PARI Automation business.

 

Commenting on the present status of India's manufacturing sector, Sundararaman said, “If you intend to become a global manufacturing hub, comparison with China is inevitable. Every minute 15 cars are produced in China, which produces 26 million cars annually (compared to India's 3 million car per year). Similarly, in China, robot density in 200 robots per 10,000 employees. In India, robot density stands at 4-5 robots. If you compare China and India (in terms of manufacturing scale), it is 1:10 in China's favour. Gap is very big between the present scale of India's manufacturing sector and where it should be to a strong contender for a global manufacturing hub.”

 

However, according to Sundararaman, India has been taking some measures to improve its manufacturing capability and the country is moving in the right direction. “In service sector, India has proved that it can ramp up capacity to match the global scale. Even in manufacturing, there are sectors which are of world-class scale. For example, in vaccine production, we are a global leader and were able to increase the production of Covid vaccine very quickly. Another example is two-wheelers sector, which annually produces 20 million units. Productivity will be important for ensuring scale. In manufacturing, we need to relentless focus on automation & digitalisations as they are important tools to improving efficiency and productivity,” he added.

 

Giving a different twist to the debate of competitiveness, Samiron Ghoshal, opined, “When you are fighting against Goliath you cannot win the battle by fighting frontally. We need to analyse competitiveness sector-by-sector and identify areas/sector where we have an advantage. There are sectors where we are already a part of global value chain (for example auto, pharma, etc). We need to go into areas where we already have a connect with the OEMs and try to fill-in the gaps that exist (or may exist) as big companies are planning to replace China as a sourcing destination.”

 

India is a major tier 1 & 2 supplier to the auto industry, but 65-75% is linked to engine & engine related component & works (like forging). “With electrical vehicle (EV) coming in, these auto component segments are under threat. Similarly, in pharma, we are strong in generics, but in the base chemicals (which are used to make these generics) China dominates the market. Here again, global companies are looking for alternate suppliers of base chemicals. So, by identifying areas/sectors where we have good presence and then using technology to improve productivity and quickly scale-up, we have a better chance of succeeding. This sector-specific focused approach can have higher success rate then targeting all sectors at one go.” Ghosal added.

 

Focus and scale: Key for gaining competitiveness

The government has rolled out Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign with an intention to make the country self-sufficient. According to Anup Wadhwa, Aatmanirbhar means making things which are essential for India within the country. “India needs products that perhaps the world is not looking at. For example, in auto sector, while we are putting our energy into 4W (like the rest of the world is doing), we are not giving enough attention to bicycle or autorickshaw (3Ws). It is not just about manufacturing, but about meeting the consumer’s end-to-end needs from design to production. In our quest to serve the global customers, we are, perhaps, not looking at opportunities that lie closer to us. India has certain unique requirements. It is equally important to look at our ability to create value. As a society, we do not give enough recognition for the jobs on shopfloor. Youngsters today are more interested in service-oriented or IT-related jobs than shopfloor. You cannot become a manufacturing nation without taking pride in activities that happen on shopfloor,” he said.

 

Speaking about the key hurdles in achieving the goals of Aatmanirbhar Bharat goals, Milind Kulshreshtha stated, “This is the decade that will be very important for India to take big strides and grow its share in the global manufacturing sector. Collaboration between Government and private sector will be important to reach the goals that we have set for ourself. Industry 4.0 should be looked at not just for cost advantage, but also to build capabilities for any manufacturing units. It requires workforce skilling, innovations, quality, and sustainability factor (which has become important globally). Industry 4.0 is about offering unique, innovative solutions for a specific manufacturing unit. Industry 4.0 and other technologies will also be important for integrating with global value chain.”

 

Samiron Ghosal believes Indian manufacturing companies have to act quickly to take advantage of post Covid market. “We have a very small window during which we have to compete with other countries like Brazil, Vietnam, Mexico, Bangladesh, etc to attract global investors. China succeeded in the last 30-35 years because of three key ingredients - focus on areas where you want to win, achieve global scale in focused areas, and build long-term relationship with OEMs and their suppliers. It is important for India to make OEMs as well as their suppliers dependent on us. By establishing relationship with long term perspective, we should gain their trust. If we work on a strategy that focuses on our areas of strength, helps in scaling up at speed and brings in long-term thinking, then everything else will fall in place.”

 

Post-Covid world seems to be different from before with lots of geo-political changes and supply chain disruptions. This could provide many opportunities to Indian manufacturers globally. Sanjay Deshmukh said, “Covid triggered disruption in the supply chain. US-China trade tension and Suez Channel blockage compounded the situation further. All these factors have made companies realise that supply chain has to be more resilient. For having extra agility and flexibility, global majors are looking at alternate sourcing destinations like India. To be a part of this new global supply chain, Indian manufacturers will have to plan for digital transformation that provides sustainable, competitive advantage.

 

Explaining the importance of adoption of advanced automation and manufacturing technologies for Indian manufacturing companies, Anup Wadhwa, who is an Evangelist of the Samarth Udyog Ecosystem that integrates the efforts of different agencies in Government and Academia, said, “Industry 3.0 (i.e. automation) should become essential part of the manufacturing infrastructure because unless you have electronic based controllers on the shopfloor you will not have the bases for connectivity and digitalization that we are now talking about in the Industry 4.0 era. For becoming a key part of global value chain, some of the essential ingredients are quality, productivity, repeatability, safety, etc. If you do not have the basic automation infrastructure in place, then it becomes difficult to compete. Government should focus on making conducive policies for encouraging automation and building people capabilities.”

 

Covid 19 pandemic has exposed the global supply chain’s perils of depending on one country for the supply of critical components for making products. India, by adopting new manufacturing technologies and processes, should be ready to take the advantage of the evolving market condition.

 

 

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