B&R Industrial Automation, recently conducted a one–day conference ‘Innovation Day’ on trendsetting automation technologies, at Pune. This was the fourth edition of B&R's flagship annual event, which brought together over 200 guests from factory operators, machine builders and industry experts, who discussed the latest innovative solutions in manufacturing. With focused presentations and live demos, automation solutions for smart machines & factories for successful Industrial IoT & Industry 4.0 implementation were also displayed.
The session was inaugurated by PV Sivaram, Non-Executive Chairman, B&R India. In the opening remarks, he spoke on the company becoming the new global centre for machine and factory automation for the ABB Group and said, “Our union with ABB promises a lot of leverage and will help us serve more customers.” He further informed, “A product is great when it is delivered to you competitively. We are launching a world-class support, which will hand-hold our customers and will put a system in place to improve the experience of our customers. It will also help us in our endeavour to be close to customers, enabling them to reach us at all times.”
Sivaram also appreciated the government’s proactive initiatives and stated, “With government’s initiatives, there is a synergy that will help us reach the next level of productivity.” Furthermore, he discussed B&R’s academic initiative, the B&R Education Network, which plans to connect with academic institutes in the country and help engineering graduates to gain knowledge on the latest innovative solutions.
Automate, IIoTize, Deliver...
The next speaker was, Jhankar Dutta, Managing Director, B&R India. Discussing his ambitious plan for the company, he stated that he targets to transform B&R into the most customer-oriented automation company and plans to double its business in 3 years. Speaking on the session’s theme of ‘Automate, IIoTize, Deliver’, he averred, “We continuously monitor how our customer’s demands are changing and align ourselves accordingly.” He further elaborated that utilising data helps in predictive maintenance, machine learning and business intelligence; seamless communication, which can immediately improve operational excellence and connect all shopfloor machines to the upper layers with high speed and data security & integrity. “Thus, we are ready with our solutions, meeting these four criteria and are ready to be part of your IIoT story,” he stressed.
Enabling Industry 4.0-readiness
The subsequent speaker of the conference was Dinesh Mungi, Manager—OEM Sales, B&R, followed by Niranjan Sohoni, Owner, Logindex Solutions, who presented a user perspective on the topic, ‘Electro-mechanical innovations enabling Industry 4.0-readiness’.
Moving on, the next speaker of the session was Nikhil Baste, Director, Technoshell Automation, who discussed his company’s practical experiences with mappTechnology. This was followed by David Hemetsberger, International Sales Manager, B&R, who spoke on efficiency in machine development.
Challenges in adopting digitalisation
After these presentations, the conference progressed to a panel discussion on the topic, ‘Industry 4.0 & IIoT: What is in it for me?’. The panelists for this session included Sudhir Kalkar, GM-Technical, ACG; Rajesh Sharma, GM & Head—Manufacturing & Engineering, Fiat India Automobiles; Yogesh Zope, CIO—Kalyani Group; Deepak Shrivastava, Technical Advisor, IoT, Accurate India; Akilur Rahman, CTO, ABB India and Jhankar Dutta. The panel discussion was moderated by Pooja Patil, Corporate Communications Executive, B&R.
Speaking on the challenges in adopting digitalisation, Shrivastava stated, “IIoT is a buzzword. The major challenge for machine tool manufacturers is that in this competitive environment, simply offering the machine to customer is not enough; customers want more value addition so that their productivity increases.” He opined that the three aspects of culture, strategy and technology needs to change in Indian organisations so as to successfully adopt digitalisation.
Quantifying the benefit of Industry 4.0
Siding in favour of a collaborative approach, Kalkar averred that it is most important to have a collaboration approach with machine manufacturers and end-users so as to overcome limitations and confusions. Rahman suggested a more mathematical approach and advised, “Quantifying the benefit of Industry 4.0 is important.” Agreeing with Rahman, Sharma cited, “It is important to analyse how many losses were incurred, were the numbers met—the requirement for digitalisation will, thus, come from within the organisation.” He also stated, “Unless the people within the organisation connect with the equipment, there will be shortcomings.”
Focusing on people, process and technology, Zope emphasised, “All three components are important and we need to integrate them in order to adopt digitalisation seamlessly in our organisations. A lot of unlearning of current skills is also important and marrying Information Technology with Operations Technology is key.” He further stated that the Indian manufacturing industry has a long way to go and it faces the challenge of internal competency to handle the digitalisation technologies.
Relevance of IoT
The next part of the discussion revolved around how relevant is IoT for enterprises today. In this context, Shrivastava noted, “If you introspect, you will not have any other choice but to adopt digitalisation.” Agreeing with him was Zope, who shared, “You cannot survive in today’s market if you do not adopt digitalisation.”
Reiterating his previous comment, Kalkar stressed, “We need to develop competency of our internal staffs and end-users with collaborative efforts.” Rahman supported this viewpoint and further observed, “It is about how we can improve key performance indicators. If we can practically achieve this and collaborate, it will happen.” Adopting a more organic approach, Sharma analysed, “IoT will originate from the organisation itself. If there is a requirement to adopt the latest technologies, the organisation will decide on this.”
Challenges faced by brownfield projects
Another aspect of the discussion included the challenges faced by brownfield machines in adopting the latest technologies. Speaking on this, Kalkar suggested that it is a big opportunity. “We do not spend much time on evaluation of our existing set-up and features of the existing machines. This is an important factor in addressing challenges.” In contrast to his views was Sharma, who stated, “When you go for a new industry, you must go for a new set-up.”
Rahman pointed out that it becomes important, especially with brownfield machines, to insert sensors non-intrusively and start communicating with this data through the mobile phone and monitor it. Dutta acknowledged these challenges faced in brownfield machines and informed, “Orange Box is an effective solution that can help connect the brownfield machines and provide greenfield benefits to brownfield machines and factories.”
Effect on maintenance & productivity
Analysing the major role of Industry 4.0 in maintenance and productivity, Sharma affirmed, “Industry 4.0 is a good tool for analysing why breakdowns happen and take corrective measures accordingly.” Favouring this was Rahman, who observed, “Sensor technologies and other such features of IoT help extend the lifetime of machines.” Also giving full credit to IoT technologies was Shrivastava, who opined, “It is important to have access to avenues such as predictive maintenance, which help avoid mishaps in the future.”
Roadmap for digitalisation
The final part of the panel discussion focused on the different approaches and roadmaps that can be taken to achieve digitalisation. Sharing insights, Sharma stated, “It is the commitment of the top management that will decide the roadmap for each organisation. Additionally, we have to re-skill our operators and convince them that these machines are there to benefit them. This will make it easier to adopt digitalisation.”
Zope also emphasised on the need for re-skilling engineers so that they can collect and interpret data, connecting the manufacturing lines to shopfloor and focusing on getting quick wins. Further, Shrivastava urged manufacturers to make use of government’s initiatives such as Samarth Udyog, which is an initiative for educating and spreading awareness amongst beginners and hand-holding & assisting them towards reaching the goal of Industry 4.0. The panel discussion ended with Patil summarising the points discussed and concluding that Industry 4.0 is the need-of-the-hour and manufacturers have no choice but to adopt digitalisation.
Shopfloor communication technologies
After the panel discussion, there was a presentation given by Dhruv Shah, MD, Prasad Group, who spoke on ‘Standard or custom-built: Controller issues in competitive market’. This was followed by a speech by Ludwig Hafner, Head—Business Development, Process & Factory Automation, B&R. He discussed Edge Architectures: Enabling IT/OT convergence. The concluding remarks of the session were delivered by Ninad Deshpande, Head—Marketing, B&R India, who gave an informative talk on shopfloor communication technologies including uniform, open and secure solutions. ☐