We are reinventing India Centric Automation in our own way

  • Interviews
  • Oct 31,23
Wipro PARI, a user as well as provider of digital/automated solutions in the industry, is one of the largest global automation companies. In this interview, Sundararaman G, Co-CEO, Wipro PARI, Wipro Infrastructure Engineering talks about Industry 4.0 ecosystem, low-cost routes to automation, and emerging trends in the automation and digital manufacturing.
We are reinventing India Centric Automation in our own way

With the advent of automation, robots/cobots, AI, ML, IoT, data analytics, cloud, etc, what changes are you witnessing in the Indian manufacturing sector in recent years?
We see significant changes in the Indian manufacturing sector, specially post covid. We see a greater appreciation for remote monitoring, feedback, control of production processes. We see that efforts are being made to reduce the number of human touches in material handling through better automation. Unlike China, where we compare the number of robots being retailed per year as a measure of automation penetration, we in India, seem to be reinventing “India Centric Automation” in our own way, which is more frugal and at the same time serving the purpose of improving productivity and quality.

What steps is Wipro PARI taking to develop the Industry 4.0 ecosystem in India?
Wipro Pari’s Industry 4.0 offering is through Linecraft AI’s software product suite that provides artificial intelligence-enabled Industrial IoT solutions. It begins with hassle-free data collection from PLCs, runs proprietary algorithms to process the data, and creates meaningful, user-friendly reports and charts. It allows manufacturers to gain insights into key performance indicators (KPIs) of their lines, and also sends personalised recommendations to optimise their production lines. This software has standard modules like:

  • Part Trace: IIoT-driven traceability solution that can help manufacturers meet compliance requirements by tracking and visualising each part through the production line, track the number of reworks and times the part entered the line and view process parameters at each station, visualise the flow of a part through the production line leveraging Gantt charts and tables, track retries, and abnormal cycles which are usually not reported in quality reports, time in line, view actual parts produced, segregated as parts OK, NOT OK, and Reworks, track genealogy/child parts during recall for a part variant serial number.
  • Monitor: which helps to track and visualise OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) of each station or production line through tabular reports and charts, gain insights into the efficiency of machines through heat maps and graphs.
  • Analyse: Identify anomalies, study trends to find when the line is deviating from normal behaviour, drill down to study and compare different station cycles, analyse the time that a machine is unavailable for production along with the reasons for downtime.
  • Optimise: Actionable recommendations to improve overall performance, increase the throughput of your key stations, by optimising their cycles and waiting times, discover stability, availability, and infrastructural opportunities for bottlenecks.

High upfront cost is a big put-off for companies (especially SMEs) who intend to adopt automated/digital solutions. Are there low-cost entry routes into digitalisation? How is your company supporting the needs of SMEs?
The first step in digitisation is to connect the machine to the world of internet. Today we have affordable data gathering devices even for legacy machines. The low-cost but effective entry route for SMEs is to keep the entire digitisation requirement simple and purposeful. If the machine is connected, the entire team in SME can monitor the productivity through simple mobile apps and only engage in detailed investigations when required. Sometimes, standard IoT offerings from many of the proprietary players will warrant them to invest heavily in the beginning. There will be so many sensors, digital/analog ports gathering hundreds of data at very short time intervals with heavy analytics. This could lead to overdose of IoT for SMEs and the real purpose of productivity monitoring and improvement gets lost. So the essential requirement for SMEs is to ensure machines are connected with just the requisite data / information getting gathered, simple mobile app based analytics to understand the productivity measures and intervene with larger tools and investment only when the ROI is justified or the problem is insurmountable. 

What are the emerging trends in the automation and digital manufacturing space?
Apart from IoT, 5G, AI, ML etc, I will point to four key emerging trends in automation and digitisation in the manufacturing space as below:

  • Edge computing – this is like bringing self-driving cars inside the factories – all real time analytics with very little latency and time loss for decision making.
  • Digital twins – The virtual machine mimicking the physical machine helping to take real time controls on large manufacturing and assembly lines.
  • AR/VR technologies – While AR overlays the digital information onto the real world, VR creates a completely immersive virtual environment.
  • Generative AI – This can create new contents as texts, sound, images, videos based on learning patterns from existing data and help shop floor intelligence to reach newer heights.

How important will digital manufacturing be for India to become a $1 trillion manufacturing economy?
India in the last three decades of growth skipped the manufacturing sector and focused more on the services sector to propel its GDP. But now with all the advantages of demographic dividend, government impetus through various PLI schemes, its software prowess, we are looking at this and next decade as digital manufacturing era generating significant employment opportunities.

What kinds of new opportunities are you looking to tap as digital manufacturing grows in India?
The acronym that comes to my mind is 3E’s that will propel our digital manufacturing in this and next decade and thereby achieving our trillion-dollar manufacturing economy:

  • Electric Vehicle: India is home to the world’s largest 2-wheeler and 3 wheeler market, we are poised for this major transformation. All requirements of digitisation “Cradle to Grave” track, trace, monitor, improve, optimise will get deployed in this segmental growth. With a staggering projected CAGR of over 90%, we will be witnessing a revolution in our digital manufacturing footprint.
  • Ecommerce: The rapidity with which our billion consumers are embracing online stores, consumption of day-to-day livelihood items, is propelling unimaginable level of digitisation from Factory to End-consumer. On –line retail growth and consumer demands for faster delivery, forces industry to develop automated and digitised logistics infrastructure in the network across all stakeholders from factories , Distribution Centre’s (DC) , Transportation , Fulfilment Centre’s (FC), Micro Fulfilment Centre’s (MFC) and the last mile delivery.
  • Electronics Manufacturing: With China+1 strategy, we are seeing huge manufacturing investments happening from semiconductors, battery cells, smart phones, and all consumer electronics goods. Already we have witnessed the mobile phone production going from 60 Mn in 2015 to 300 Mn in 2022, now we are poised to take this to 1 billion level over the next 5 years. This segment will witness a major investment in precision engineering automation along with world class digitisation technologies penetrating the high-speed fault free manufacturing lines.

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