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Atul Dave, Managing Director, SICK India

Image: SICK India

Automation as a strategy “Automation investment calls for scalable technology”

May 3, 2018

“Several advantages associated with adopting Industry 4.0 technologies can be leveraged when we align the skill sets accordingly so as to achieve our business goals” — Atul Dave, Managing Director, SICK India

Do you see any challenges while making automation as a fundamental part of the overall business strategy in the Indian manufacturing enterprises, in both SMEs and corporates?

As a matter of fact, we are convinced that the Indian manufacturing sector would continue or increase the contribution of automation in their overall business strategy. With Industry 4.0, we will have many more advantages, such as, cost reduction, increase in quality and efficient production processes. This will add the required flexibility in their manufacturing. Hence, we see only additional opportunities and not the challenges.

A better approach to automation investment begins with a strategic vision that drives a methodical approach to business improvement. What would be your recommendations?

With customer focus, we must determine our step-by-step methodical approach to reach the vision, which should be well backed up with the strategy. Investment in automation calls for the scalable technology, which supports the business or market demands of the future. Again, Industry 4.0 will be a strategic vision here as well.

How easy or difficult it is to align business & automation strategy in a manufacturing organisation and ensure the two are closely linked in the long term, especially in the SME sector?

Automation is not a sector-specific topic. The small & medium enterprises sector will benefit equally from adopting automation if it is aligned with the business and market strategies. In short, it is the need-of-the-hour for all those who are involved in the manufacturing sector.

Consumer demand and relentless global competition have resulted in shorter product lifecycles, a need for reduced turnaround time, and a renewed emphasis on quality and cost reduction. Can you highlight the current trends in the automation solutions and advanced technologies available that address these areas?

The above areas are addressed by Industry 4.0. The additional benefit that comes along the way is skill development. Several advantages associated with adopting Industry 4.0 technologies can be leveraged when we align the skill sets accordingly so as to achieve our business goals.

The effective execution of your automation strategy requires the right partner to help guide and drive the process. How can the partnership between automation service provider, system integrator and end-user be more effective to further overall business objectives and ensure consistent RoI?

For automation companies, they must consider those who have the knowledge of the industry and the technology. Our preference would always be to go with the partner who has a dedicated innovation and R&D team. This helps the customer to always remain one step ahead of the rest. For example, SICK AG invests 10% of its yearly revenue in the R&D budget. This way, they have become the trend setters and bring that added value in the partnership.

Additionally, system integrators must understand the needs of the end user in order to customise the technology and add value in terms of convenience, performance, service, etc. The cost effectiveness can be achieved by customisation and services, thereby adding to a consistent RoI.

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