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Automotive Product Finder Magazine | Indian suppliers can play a major role in EV segment
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In the recent past, Government has come out with many stringent regulations like the new emission standards which prescribe the engine to be highly efficient and new crash-test standards which dictate that vehicles to undergo tests for full-frontal, offset-frontal and side impact tests to get the certification. At the same time, the industry – dominated by the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) - is slowly, but surely moving towards adoption of electric vehicles. The need is to facilitate a smooth transition between the segments, says Sharadhi Babu, CEO, AXISCADES, which works closely with many OEMs in design and development of automotive systems. In this interview, Sharadhi Babu tracks changes taking place across the supply chain in the automotive industry and how manufacturers are gearing up for these changes.
At AXISCADES, what are your key focuses (priorities) at present?
Our priorities are two-fold. First, addressing the engineering needs of the entire lifecycle of a product/platform, from design to manufacturing to integration to testing to logistics to aftermarket services (maintenance) to obsolescence (repair, upgrade, recycling). Second, migrating towards Industry 4.0; build capabilities and addressing the requirements arising out of automation, digitization, green engineering and allied needs.
What kinds of changes are you witnessing in the manufacturing sector, in general and automotive industry, in particular (globally and in India)?
Manufacturing industry is witnessing the Industry 4.0 revolution towards digitization with the introduction of automation/robotisation, Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR) technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to achieve cost reduction, higher product quality and faster time to market plus more informed decision-making. Another technology that is emerging is the Additive Manufacturing (AM), which will help in rapid prototyping and quick introduction of new products to the market.
Automotive sector is fast adopting these technologies. For example, an American OEM has implemented VR in production processes helping engineers view, access and modify several variants which increases efficiency. Meanwhile a Japanese OEM created a maintenance and assessment system which uses AR technology. These wearables help technicians to view the checklist on a glass screen that further guides them to components that need to be inspected, and verbally fill out an inspection report after completing each step. These are great examples of how manufacturing is moving in the right direction. However, India is still playing catchup and the market is ripe for these applications once there is the right intent and a capable partner to support that intent.
What are the challenges faced by auto OEMs and auto component suppliers given the numerous regulatory changes witnessed by the industry in the recent years? How is AXISCADES helping them overcome these challenges?
In the recent past, Government has come out with many stringent regulations like the new emission standards which prescribe the engine to be highly efficient and new crash-test standards which dictate that vehicles to undergo tests for full-frontal, offset-frontal and side impact tests to get the certification.
Also, new regulations make it compulsory the fitment of ABS/CBS in 2W and ABS in cars, fitment driver-side airbag for all new cars sold in India, a speed warning alarm, seatbelt reminder alarms for both driver and co-driver. While all these are adding to the product development cost, the products are becoming robust and safety of the passenger & the pedestrian is being achieved.
AXISCADES works closely with many OEMs in design and development of automotive systems. AXISCADES has in the recent past contributed to the redesign of the chassis to limit the roll-over, performed analysis to reduce the body vibration, and developed a radar system which can monitor health of the driver and alert in case of an imminent danger.
What kind of paradigm shift one is likely to witness in R&D with respect to electric vehicles (EVs)?
Most EVs have started using Lithium-ion batteries. Companies will continue to invest heavily in this technology due to the high recharge capacity of these batteries. Research is also being done in the areas of fast charging and for increasing the battery life. Another area that will boost the EV market is wide spread installation of charging stations and other infrastructure.
Indian auto component companies play a dominant role in ICE segment. Can they replicate this success in electric vehicles as well?
Though EV segment is fast growing, the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles will continue for another 10 to 15 years. So, the need is to facilitate a smooth transition between the segments including re-skilling of both the white collar and blue collar workers, besides the OEM level infrastructure migration.
The heart of the EV is the battery & its management system. There has been a significant amount of progress in the improvement of lithium-ion battery technology. The three parts of lithium ion battery are battery-pack manufacturing with a value of 30 to 40 per cent, cell manufacturing adding to 25 to 30 per cent, battery-chemicals which is of 35 to 40 per cent. While cell to pack manufacturing plants have started functioning, the others need to be encouraged in India.
Indian suppliers can play a major role in EV segment thereby repeating the success of ICE segment.
Government aims to make India a $1-trillion manufacturing economy. What are the key hurdles in achieving this ambitious target?
While India has the young work force which can help achieve $1-trillion from manufacturing sector, Government must strengthen it with skill development, help build manufacturing scale. Further, fundamental structural reforms, building investor friendly environments like industrial parks, tax free/concessions programs, loans and simplifying bureaucracy are mandatory for achieving this. Further, the Government has to fuel the demand through multiple initiatives.
How important will be the role of technology solutions companies like AXISCADES in making India a $1-trillion manufacturing economy?
AXISCADES is the offset partner for many international customers in the Aerospace & Defence (A&D) verticals. We are working closely with both international & domestic customers to develop products and to deliver solutions. AXISCADES has commercially deployed over 100 embedded products and have been recognised with more than 20 domestic and international awards. AXISCADES also has developed over 100 SPMs & intricate fixtures to help improve the productivity of our customers.
How relevance is Industry 4.0 for SMEs?
Industry 4.0 is also transforming the Indian manufacturing industry. While, integration of physical systems on cyber platforms, the basic premise of Industry 4.0, is still at its infancy, SMEs have started adopting simple automation, robotization (industrial robots & SPMs) & digitization in their manufacturing lines to overcome the challenges of skilled manpower and improve productivity & quality of the product.
In the present VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) environment, what advice would you like to give to companies for surviving?
VUCA of situation is not new to our type of service industry. To come out VUCA kind of situation, companies must always be conducting risk analysis of their businesses, build capacity upfront & cross skill the resources. One must also build business intelligence; collect, interpret relevant information from many sources. Organisations need to be flexible to adopt to complexities & ready to restructure or bring in specialists quickly on board. Taking risks & learning lessons from such VUCA situations are one of the fundamentals for building any winning organisation.
Shortage of skilled manpower is becoming a hindrance is growth of the manufacturing sector. Automation removes dependencies on manpower. Automation is and will be the order of the day.
How is your company gearing up to tap new opportunities?
AXISCADES plans to grow through extending its engineering services capabilities and offerings throughout the lifecycle of the product including design, manufacturing, testing, logistics and aftermarket services. AXISCADES is embarked upon to go full digital by serving to global OEMs, the technologies including Internet of Things (IoT), Automation, AI/ML, AM and other allied offerings.
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