The automation industry does not exist on its own but is a reflection of how the Indian industry incorporates more use of automated machines. The need for automation started initially, largely to improve efficiency and productivity and to avoid human intervention in a risky work environment. Today, its scope has been enlarged, enhancing working conditions, along with rising the civic sense to pollute less and protect our environment.
The current trends, which are quite visible, are the prolific use of ‘sensors and controls’ in almost all the machines used in all types of industries. Quality control is the most interesting field of automation today. More industries are now deploying vision sensors, 2D & 3D cameras and bar code readers to ensure that the right component or product is shipped to the right customer. Vision sensors ensure that any defect in the goods produced are detected before they are shipped and corrected at the manufacturing plants.
Though it is quite new, I foresee that more industries will embrace new concepts – Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) or Automated Guided Carts (AGCs). The advent of latest technologies in the field of LiDAR sensors and localisation software, along with complex algorithm for efficient route mapping of AGVs, make it the most inevitable tool in the large scale automated warehouses in the e-commerce industry.
However, the efficiency and reliability of the AGVs with reduced cost over a lifecycle make it an attractive choice for other industries, too. The work force required doing the monotonous repetitive work of moving bulky and unwieldy components inside a factory or warehouse can be eliminated entirely by using such AGVs. The anti-collision sensors complying with stringent safety levels make it the industry’s most reliable assistance, besides robots.
Talking of robots, I see that we have tremendous scope for deploying more robots, particularly in the automotive and consumer goods industry. Most of the automotive industry now uses robots in its production lines, particularly in welding and assembly operations, packaging, loading & unloading of goods etc. We will see in the future that the Indian industry will use more robots. It is now safer to work with robots since safety sensors, along with safety control system, ensures that the hazard is avoided in all working conditions and safety of human and machinery is guaranteed all the time. Moreover, with new software and advanced sensors, more people are talking about collaborative robots
The use of data generated by sensors mounted in machines in the industry and making sense out of this data will be the future of automation in the Indian industry. Industry 4.0 is nothing but collecting data, analysing it based on the customer’s need – be it predictive maintenance, predictive quality or improving productivity. With this background, automation in the industries will ask for ‘sensor intelligence’.