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Ulrich Turck, Former Managing Director, Turck Automation GmbH

Image: Turck Automation GmbH

Industrial Automation “India’s IT potential—a huge opportunity”

Jan 5, 2018

…says Ulrich Turck, Former Managing Director, Turck Automation GmbH, at the launch of the competence centre at Pune. In an interaction with Megha Roy, he highlights the Industry 4.0 solutions that need to be rolled out in order to leverage the automation sector globally. Excerpts from the interview…

The global industrial automation services market is estimated to reach $64.46 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 10.6% for the forecasted period. How do you strategise your company’s developments towards this development?

Over the last three years, we have invested a lot in new technology, processes, in house processes as well as in improving our IT & distribution system. In terms of infrastructure, we are investing around 30 million euros that also includes the new subsidiaries in our pipeline. In addition, we are planning to concentrate more in the south east Asian region, wherein we plan to open new subsidiaries at Malaysia and Thailand, along with South Africa.

How does today’s automation solutions address current manufacturing challenges such as operational excellence, productivity improvement, cost reduction, efficient processes, etc? Which are the areas of automation technology in which you expect to see significant levels of automation in the coming years?

We offer Industry 4.0 products that enable manufacturers to improve their production to higher efficiency levels. Today, a major challenge for manufacturers is to design the production in such a manner that even a one-piece lot is possible. Everybody is talking about high-volume production. This can be better designed by Industry 4.0 solutions since they are flexible and can adapt the parameters of products being manufactured.

It was a different picture earlier—it was quite difficult. One had to change the tools and wait to connect the machines to the new lot. However, this seems possible in the present scenario. For example, in the automotive industry, the production plant is able to meet the demands of customised configurations without much human-intervention. Also, we had a visit to some automotive companies in India and to our surprise, we came across players who have an automation degree ranging from 31% to 91%. Application for industry 4.0 becomes mostly effective,if the automation degree is high.

The worlds of industrial automation and process control are coming together as communication and security standards enable new system architectures and solutions. What is your take on this?

India is an ideal place to work on this issue. We are a provider of component knowledge and focus had been to be equipped with the required set of specifications & data sheet. But now with changing times, we have to start concentrating into systems, where the entire automation pyramid needs to be analysed. This is a challenge for us, since we are from the hardware side and we need to join hands with the communications, so that both ends are met and we are able to provide the customer with a complete solution package.

What are the technological breakthroughs in the automation sector in the coming years, for example, Industry 4.0, Big Data, Cloud Computing, digital factory, human-robot collaboration, etc?

Last year, we have achieved higher levels in the automation parameters. We started on sensor levels, but later expanded to the IO link, Ethernet product families, multi protocols which adopts several Ethernet technologies, adding PLCs into our programmes and the RFID family with MES software. We have rolled out our products & services to perform with the Industry 4.0 standard.

How important is the networking of different areas of industry as well as different countries so as make a globalised technology approach?

This is certainly a global approach and it’s our task now to imbibe our subsidiaries with the required knowhow, which cannot be only centered to our headquarters. We need to transfer this technology globally. As far as the Indian market is concerned, it is an important hub for the nearby countries. Joining hands with the IT knowledge of the country, India can surely become one of the strongest competence centres of the Turck Group in the future.

Although technical advance in the industry today has leveraged the automation sector to a large extent, ease of use is still an issue in the industry. In your opinion, how can such issues be addressed?

We need to majorly re-consider the lower salary costs. Flexibility of the production process needs to grow proportionately with the raise in salaries. Flexibility is essential because customers are demanding customisation, which can only be achieved with higher degrees of automation.

Given the current market scenario, what would be your recommendations for industries to invest in automation? Moving ahead, what are your plans for the Indian market?

We have huge expectations from the Indian market. Owing to its higher levels of education and vast knowhow, India is a major contributor to our knowledge of Industry 4.0 programmes. That’s the reason we have set-up our competence centre at Pune. Moving ahead, we also wish to integrate system integration here.

Our motto is to go beyond production and move towards software. We wish to see India as one of the greatest competence centre for Industry 4.0 in the long run.

What are the areas of automation technology in which you expect to see significant level of growth on the coming years?

To witness a significant level of growth in the upcoming years, we need to focus on three aspects—machine vision, RFID technology and the cloud platform that is in connection with the control devices. India is a very exciting country for us and has a huge IT potential. Having the expertise in control devices, I am quite optimistic that with the appropriate IT and technical expertise, the Indian competence centre can make Industry 4.0 a possibility soon.

Profile bio: Electrical graduated engineer, Turck started his professional career after completing his studies at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Son of company co-founder Hans Turck, he was initially responsible for the founding of Turck overseas subsidiaries in Eastern Europe & China.

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