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“Manufacturers should involve automation vendors, consultants very early in the discussions, while fixing the key result areas and measurement tools for various departments like operations, maintenance, quality and management”

PV Sivaram, Managing Director, B&R India

Automation as a strategy “Automation is the road to smart factories”

Apr 1, 2016

To examine automation as a strategy for increasing productivity and reliability in manufacturing operation, one has to draw a roadmap to balance between the investment costs attributed to the implementation costs of knowledge-based engineering or engineering automation software & hardware, and the real-time benefits of automation in terms of payback. The cover story features a series of interviews with the industry experts, highlighting their views on the key trends and the desired roadmap to drive automation & robotic technology in the existing supply chain, thereby, walking a step ahead towards achieving future-ready factories in India.

“Automation is the road to smart factories”

What would be the key trends vis-à-vis market requirements that will drive automation & robotic technology in the years to come?

The key trends include flexible manufacturing and mass customisation, where manufacturers who can react to changing consumer trends, while maintaining cost-effective production can hope to compete on a global scale. Next is regulatory compliances, where more and more companies are finding themselves obligated. Market demands like operation flexibility, increased throughput and waste reduction are the driving forces behind the growing use of robots in many industries. As such, with integrated robotics, harmonised operations and optimised cost can be achieved.

How do you make sure that you are prepared with the right technology and strategy to ensure the success of the automation project?

B&R has recently announced its foray into process & factory automation business in India. We now offer complete solution for smart machines and smart factories. An intuitive sense of market dynamics and emerging trends has established us to lead the way with most innovative technology in the market.

What would be your recommendations on drawing a full roadmap for automation as a strategy in the long term?

We have to evaluate all the constituents of the smart factory project to arrive at a roadmap for automation as a strategy. Manufacturers should involve automation vendors, consultants very early in the discussions, while fixing the key result areas and measurement tools for various departments. Convergence of IT and shop floor is leading us towards future smart factories or Industry 4.0.

What are in general the challenges posed by manufacturers while leveraging automation? How do you address them?

Manufacturing plant typically is a host to different equipment supplied by its vendors with their choice of automation technologies. This creates automation islands as few equipment use latest technologies, whereas others use legacy or conventional one. Yet again, proprietary technologies are very commonly used in plant automation system. This puts user at risk. On one hand, he faces major problems during maintenance to get the parts easily. On the other hand, he finds difficulty to connect one equipment with other or to the IT systems.

Do you think the factories in India are future ready? Are they equipped enough to adapt to advanced technologies in the existing supply chain? What would be the first step going forward in this direction?

Embracing technology is the way forward promising Indian manufacturers as serious contenders in global market as well as ever growing domestic market. Fortunately for us, ‘Make in India’ is coming timely with Industry 4.0. Equipping for this transformation is a serious challenge for the manufacturers, but time is ripe to take few initial steps towards building future-ready factories. Cost being a deterrent, companies should focus on taking step-by-step approach.

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