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Ninad Deshpande, Head - Marketing, B&R Industrial Automation

Image: B&R India

Automation as a strategy “Focus on technology over cost sensitivity”

May 3, 2018

“Aspirational India no longer wishes to project itself as a low-cost hub, rather it wants to be the best-of-class and the preferred choice” — Ninad Deshpande, Head - Marketing, B&R Industrial Automation

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?

A business strategy revolves around developing new products. Thus, efficient and next-generation automation solutions play an important role in enabling a company in fulfilling their strategies. However, one may have to incur huge initial costs. Any investment with an unclear or long-term RoI leads to ambiguity and is the biggest challenge for incorporating it as a business strategy in Indian manufacturing. This is, however, changing quickly as Indian manufacturers now focus on technology over cost sensitivity.

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

It is essential to take a strategic systematic approach to adopt automation for business improvement and is advisable to start small by taking one-step at a time. This ensures implementation success, making it easier to track investment status and its returns. Making the right investments in the right areas at the right time help in providing a manufacturing setup an edge over competition. A combination of the above is essential for driving business growth.

How easy/difficult is it 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?

Today, we are seeing an increased rise in the awareness and requirement of technology by the Indian industry. Aspirational India no longer wishes to project itself as a low-cost hub, rather it wants to be the best-of-class and the preferred choice. This has made it possible to reduce the gap between business and automation strategy even in SMEs.

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?

For a manufacturing unit, it is impossible to build separate lines or machines for all new market demands. Thus, batch size-one and mass customisation is the need of the hour. However, customisation demand is only possible with the highly automated mass production, otherwise the unit costs are too high. Deploying next-generation industrial transport technology using LLM technology as used in B&Rs SuperTrak and ACOPOSTrak is the answer to market demands for achieving mass customisation cost effectively. Also, flexible batch-size-one manufacturing operations need machinery, which can adapt automatically without operator intervention. SuperTrak and ACOPOSTrak are an ideal way to implement a motion control solution with this level of responsiveness.

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?

Awareness and education on next-generation technologies is important when it comes to building a strategy. It is necessary for automation vendors, integrators and end users to collaborate for achieving business goals. End users provide their expertise in their defined industry. Automation vendors bring in their technology expertise of the latest trends training system integrators to help them easily adopt and implement solutions. This will help tackle challenges faced by end users and ensure consistent RoI.

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