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Recently addressing the B20 Summit India 2023 in New Delhi, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi emphasised on the buzz and excitement around artificial intelligence (AI). "Global business communities and governments will have to work together to ensure that ethical AI is promoted," he said. Last month India saw the success of the Chandrayaan-3 Mission and the industrial sector of the country was congratulated as much as the science part of it for its efforts in making it a win. There cannot be more perceptible evidence for the Indian manufacturing sector that it is time to come in front and gear up on the driving seat of the economy for the country's growth. 'Automation,' the word is taking up actual spaces on the grounds of manufacturing facilities rather than just in the conversations of the experts. It was clearly visible at the Automation Expo 2023 which was held in Mumbai from August 23 to 26. Companies around the world showcased their products and solutions on Industrial Automation at their booths during the event.
The adoption of automation by companies depends on the shop floor requirements. However, the eventual goal remains to enhance operational efficiency and boost productivity in the workplace. Due to advancements in technology and the process of modernisation, various industries have begun to embrace automated systems. A recent PwC India survey shows that Indian companies are showing an upward trend towards adopting analytics and AI with a current implementation rate of 54 per cent. Generally, the application of automation is categorised into four—fixed/hard automation, programmable automation, flexible/soft automation, and integrated automation. At the Automation Expo 2023, different companies were showcasing their automation solution in different types and fields.
UL Group, a conglomerate in the Indian Industry, for products and solutions for Industrial automation needs like connectivity, interfacing, communication and total automation projects, launched nine new products at the event. The group has different companies involved in business catering to the required needs of industries and automation solutions. "The biggest challenge in front of the world is the dependability on the global market for sourcing these automation products. Opportunities are there with the growing market but the lead time is very high. In India, actions are in place like the Make in India scheme, but we are still in the transition phase. The positive part of the Indian market is that it is growing, as when you look at the global market most of the countries are either stagnant or facing recession. India is a self-reliant country in terms of resources, demographics, self-consumption etc and it will reduce this dependency," said Vikas Garg, Chief Executive Officer, UL Group.
Smart Iot Technologies, a Navi Mumbai-based company, presented next-gen technology focused on IoT (Internet of Things) based on cloud-connected devices which are coupled with state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and dashboards to help companies with data collection and integration. Discussing the supply chain challenges, Neelesh Pawar, VP- Products of the company said, "In robotics and automation, the entire value chain is coming from China, Taiwan, Indonesia and South Korea. India is yet to develop that kind of ecosystem. However, the government is making it hard time for importers to import. So, the businesses are growing within the country and we have a long way to go."
With the discussions around the Indian MSMEs adopting automation, a Chennai-based company, Alstrut is offering turnkey robotics & industrial automation solutions to discrete manufacturing companies with a special target to the MSME market. "We are trying to work with Indian MSMEs and help them increase their efficiency by using such technologies,” said Anuj Bihani, Director of Alstrut India Pvt Ltd. “There are multiple challenges working with the MSMEs. First would be the exposure and awareness of technologies, second is to bridge the gap between the available technologies and how one can implement them in their operations, and third would be the apprehension of this technology. Another major challenge is the ROI and availability of the resources. I would say that the ROI part is just a matter of time but the important thing right now is to create awareness so that they can incorporate such technology as and when they feel the need for it," added Bihani. He also shared that Alstrut’s sister organisation Impaqt Robotics recently won the Red Dot Design Award and Red Dot Innovative Product Award for 2023 for its pneumagiQ PQ90 and pneumagiQ PQ180, ‘Made in India’ products.
Skilling and reskilling are other challenges faced by companies today. Chennai-based Autobots Inc, to do its part in achieving ‘Skilled India,’ provides in-depth training in Robotics and Machine learning. “We seek to combine our expertise in the industry and emerging technologies in the market to benefit our customers. We have collaborated with around 100 colleges till now. We help them set up the robotic lab, we supply them robotic modules and also provide them with training,” said Srikanth Hariharan, CEO, Autobots Inc. The company also provide a wide range of robots and cobots meeting the needs of customers across the country.
Whereas the booths at the venue were filled with robotics and other AI/IoT integrated products and solutions, some companies also showcased software solutions in the flexible and integrated automation lead. "There are many companies providing support to the manufacturing on how automation can be done on the shop floor. But before it comes the development and design part of the automation, because if the implementation is done but the productivity is not as per the expectations then it is of no use,” said Shashikant Rakshe, Industry Expert, Prescient Technologies. The company is an Engineering Software company that is involved in working with R&D and engineering teams of manufacturing firms to help them with CAD/PLM, Mathematical, and Algorithmic software development. “We design and develop software to ease out manufacturing activities by collecting and processing data again with the help of standard software," he added.
Another industrial automation company, Precise Industrial Solution Pvt Ltd focuses on providing integration of digitalisation and automation. The company demonstrated the energy modules and monitoring applications at their booth. It is the advanced partner for automation and drive for Siemens. “Challenges are obvious when any new thing comes into the market. Currently, people are not 100 per cent trained on IT-OT integration but our team are completely trained on such kind of thing which helps things to work out and face these challenges," said Smita Gadade, Director, Precise Industrial Solution on the application of the automation on the shop floor. With such companies talking about flexible automation and integrated automation, the way for software companies into the manufacturing field looks clearer.
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