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“The technology is getting upgraded continuously & it has become important to seamlessly integrate the new products with the existing products. In some cases, it is to recondition existing equipment with the latest FA products.”

Sunil Mehta, General Manager – Technical Support, Factory Automation & Industrial Division, Mitsubishi Electric India

Automation as a strategy Drawing a full roadmap

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.

“Meeting the demands of tomorrow”

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

In my view, key trends in the market are cost and quality. In today’s scenario, mass production and quality maintenance of products has become most important. With increasing demand for cost-effective and quality products, there is an exponential increase in the demand for top-end automation and robotics technology in the overall industry to maximise production output and maintain quality. To cater to the needs of the versatile industry, we introduced our robot series MELFA in the Indian manufacturing industry.

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

We work with the users to define the needs of tomorrow and, thereby, engage in developing technology, which can redefine the deliverables of automation. Our latest generation PLC with shortest scan time of 9 nano second and CC Link IE Field with data handling capability at 100 Gbps are testimony to the initiative of developing product today to meet the demands of tomorrow. Success in an automation project for us is being able to deliver beyond the expectation of the customer. Our R&D centres across major locations in the world including India, continuously strive for innovative engineering enabling us to deliver products to redefine the needs of the customer.

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

AIt is important for the manufacturer to understand trends in the industry and predict the future demands. The technology is getting upgraded continuously and it has become important to seamlessly integrate the new products with the existing products. In some cases, it is also important to recondition existing equipment with the latest FA products (even though the existing automation products are working fine, they may not support necessary networking, data handling requirements)

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

The general challenge posed by manufacturers is the lack of trained human resources to explore the latest automation products. Mitsubishi Electric India addresses this by providing necessary trainings to manufacturing engineers on regular basis. We are expanding our channel / system integrators network and we support our channel engineers to understand the products to maximum extent. Even though there are many factory automation products available from different brand, it is important to focus on one or two brands so as to have trained resources available to work upon.

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?

Automobile industry has been one of the key drivers to adopt advanced technologies in the production environment. A lot of work still needs to be done in other industries like F&B, pharmaceutical and textile. However, with growing influence of foreign manufacturers / regulations particularly from Europe & USA, these industries stand to gain significantly. Integration of factory automation products (controllers, VFDs, AC Servo systems), vision systems, RFID, sensors with IT technology will play a key role in manufacturing industry. The e-factory concept propagated by Mitsubishi Electric, is our endeavour to contribute to get the factories more open and accessible.

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