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Automotive Product Finder Magazine | Robotomation gives fillip to robotics evolution in Indian auto industry
Robotomation gives fillip to robotics evolution in Indian auto industry
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The symposium, organised by VDMA, highlighted global trends in robotics and automation and their relevance for Indian automotive industry, reports Rakesh Rao. During the event, the first VDMA Robotics + Automation Innovation Awards for the automotive industry were also presented.
The Indian unit of the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) in association with VDMA Robotics + Automation organised Robotomation, a symposium for robotic automation trends in automotive industry, recently in Pune. Dr Juergen Morhard, Consul General of Federal Republic of Germany, Mumbai, and Dr Abhay Firodia, Chairman, Force Motors Ltd graced the inauguration function on the event.
Though the speed of automation is increasing in India, robot density (ie number of robots per 10,000 employees) in Indian automotive industry is still very low (85) compared to approximately 1000 in countries with major focus on automotive production. Enlightening the audience about the global robotics and automation scenario, Patrick Schwarzkopf, Member of The Executive Board of the International Federation of Robotics, and Managing Director of VDMA Robotics + Automation Association, said, “Robot density is still very low at 3 in Indian manufacturing sector (2017) compared to world average of 85. However, India is emerging as one of the most promising markets for robot manufacturers. While global robot sales stagnated in 2018, installations in India jumped up by 39 percent. Therefore, India went up from number 14 in the global ranking of installations (2017) to number 12 in 2018. Though automotive still remains the biggest employer of robots in the country, electronics is catching up rapidly as a major customer for robotics.”
According to him, mobile robotics, robots with enhanced vision capability, cloud robotics, machine learning (ML) & artificial intelligence (AI), change in usage of robots from the assembly line to matrix production, low cost robotics, etc are some of the emerging trends in the industry.
Following global trend
Many companies from developed countries like Germany are moving their manufacturing base to India and bring with them latest manufacturing concepts and technologies. Mostly, these manufacturers are followed by their vendors who need to be closer to the manufacturer’s plant for timely delivery of components or raw materials. The domestic industries also benefits as they also become a part of supply chain for these big players and adopt global best practices. Industry 4.0, which has its original in Germany, has now become a global phenomenon with every company looking to adopt it. Industry 4.0 is equally applicable for India, more so for small & medium enterprises (SMEs).
Elaborating on this, Rajesh Nath, Managing Director, VDMA India, “There is a common misconception that Industry 4.0 is only for large companies. SME sector also can derive benefit from Industry 4.0. Certain aspects of Industry 4.0 have immense significance for SMEs. Cost of stoppage in production for SMEs is much higher than large companies (who can temporarily shift production to their other plants). By incorporating Industry 4.0 (for condition monitoring, remote monitoring, etc for equipment), SMEs can know the health of the machines and take remedial maintenance steps in case of some abnormalities detected in them. This could be save a lot of money for the SME.” There are three factors driving the demand for robotic automation – increase in awareness about safety, rise in importance of ergonomics and stringent requirement to produce quality products. Automotive industry is one of the first users of advanced robotic technology in India. “Robotic installation is low in India, but is expected to rise further. In the last few years, the level of automation (in the form of introduction of robots) has increased not just in automobile sector but also in other industries. In a span of six years, we have increased the level of automation at our factory from 16 per cent to 84 percent and intend to take it to 96 per cent in the next 3-4 years by incorporating 160 more robots,” stated Rajesh Sharma, Head ICT - Infrastructure, Security & Compliance, Fiat India.
Sharing the experience of automotive manufacturer, Vivek Sharma, Vice President, Central Manufacturing Engineering, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), said, “There were very few robotic applications four years back, but today we have about 120 robots in our factory. We are looking at robots for applications which are repetitive and difficult for human to performance. It has helped us increase the production tremendously. Robots are still capital intensive today and we believe cost will come down as volumes increase.”
Providing flexibility and competitive edge
China, which has been focusing on exports to boost economic growth, is today the leading user of robots in the world. Elaborating more on this, Dr Ranjit Date, President and Joint Managing Director, PARI, said, “When one uses labour, the company saves on capital, but makes operations inefficient. On the other hand, when the company invests in automation and robots, they are using capital to derive operational efficiency. For export oriented economies like China, capital become available at cheaper rate so that they can invest in robots and raise productivity and gain economies of scale. By doing this they were able to bring down production cost per unit and gain larger share of global trade with their cost-effective products.”
According to Satish Sadasivan, Managing Director, Schunk Intec India, robots can help in empowering humans. “Countries, which are export oriented economies, have high robot density. In India, automation is no more a status symbol, but a necessity to compete in the marketplace. Automation is not just about creating better products or increasing production, but is about refining and enriching the society. Robots can free humans from doing menial, physical jobs and focus on intellectual works,” he said.
The automotive industry is highly competitive in India and lifespan of new products is decreasing as customers want latest gadgets and technologies in their vehicles. Hence, the manufacturing facility should be capable to take care of this market reality and robots offer this flexibility. “Today, customers demand variety and, to fulfill this need, an auto manufacturer makes a wide range of products from the same manufacturing set up. Hence, the auto maker needs automation and robots to achieve flexibility. As the country develops economically, there is a need to improve skill set of the people. Robotics can help in technical growth of the employee and also increase the productivity,” informed Dr S Devarajan, Vice President, TVS Motor.
Speaking about importance of robots in India, Ashwin Vanikar, Head of Cluster India - Application Engineering, Festo India, said, “At present, the robotic penetration in India is too low, but will definitely increase as the demand goes up. India is a country with big population who need labour as well as skill oriented jobs. However, there is now a need to shift people from labour to skill oriented jobs as this will raise productivity and competitiveness of industries. Automation and robots are tools that help in creating skill oriented jobs.”
Awards recognising innovations
During Robotomation symposium, the first VDMA Robotics + Automation Innovation Awards were presented to recognise efforts and commitments towards innovation of Indian companies serving the automotive industry. IAC International Automotive India and TVS-Sundaram Clayton Limited emerged as the winners of these awards. Leading companies like Baumer, Festo, Kuka Robotics, Schunk, Siemens, Zimmer GmbH, etc also made their application oriented technology presentations during this event.
German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association
Mahindra And Mahindra
TVS Sundaram Clayton
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