Automation raises productivity, benefits end-users: Omron

Chennai: The onset of the fourth industrial revolution is highly awaited and industries world-over are improving on automation, going end-to-end, anticipating a shift in global manufacturing and service providing culture.

Omron, a leader in industrial automation, sensing and controlled technologies is a firm that pioneers in IoT, robotics and Industry 4.0. Speaking to News Today, Sameer Gandhi, the managing director of Omron Automation Limited, reflects on automation industry in India, it’s future and his firm’s diversified portfolio.

Excerpts from his interview:

Q) How did you manage to diversify your company’s portfolio in India?

A) Most of our services very well fits the need of the Indian market, as customers become more demanding. We have to compete with industries across the world. So, our manufacturing also requires similar productivity, quality, efficiency standards. That is why we have been able to diversify our approach in India and bring in our global solutions to address (difficulties in) Indian manufacturing sector.

Q) Why did you want Omron to be an end-to-end automation solution provider?

A) If you look at the dynamics of the Indian market, there are high-level manufacturing sectors who have advanced engineering technology and also there are low-level manufacturing sectors like MSMEs who don’t have such technologies. We realised there is a need for end-to-end to solutions for the latter and we decided to assist in their productivity by providing our solutions. Even the high-level manufacturing sector needs our help sometimes.

Q) How is the scope for entrepreneurship in automation industry ?

A) We’ve built quite a bit of engineering capabilities. But that’s not enough. The market requirement is much bigger. There’s a tremendous scope for technical entrepreneurs to step in and build organisations that have the capability to provide engineering solutions to the customers. The need is not only on the line of automation engineering but also mechanical engineering. We provide automation solutions but mechanical. So there’s a scope for people who can build these kinds of mechatronic solutions in addition to automation requirements.

Q) Will boom in automation in healthcare make it more expensive?

A) Investing in automation raises the capital. However, that results in productivity improvement. The productivity of the manufacturer out of the same space and same number of labourers can be increased when the use of automation comes in. Ultimately, the consumer is benefitted with higher quality products and service.

Q) Your thoughts about the future of factory automation in India.

A) Future of automation is very bright. If you look at the contribution of manufacturing to our GDP, it’s about 16-17 per cent. There have been debates, in recent times, about increasing unemployment. It can be met by increasing the contribution of manufacturing. Both imported and domestically manufactured items are sold at the same price and thus, similar quality is expected from the Indian manufacturer, at the same price of an imported item. So, manufacturers have to raise their standards to the global levels even though my customers are domestic. For that to be handled, investment in automation in the industry must go up. Hence, the future of factory automation in India is bright.

Q) what will be the impact on employment of labour?

A) That is a very pertinent point. We think there is a less need for the involvement of human work force in automation industry. Bringing in automation does seem to reduce workforce for simple jobs. We have to also consider that when the productivity improves the manufacturer finds more consumers for their product. That increases income and willingness to invest more to put up another line. More lines mean more employment. Now, he has to employ individuals with higher skill-level which pays them more and gives them a better job security. So, if skilled labour is not needed, replaceability is higher and puts the job security at risk. But it’s difficult to replace an individual who can handle automation well. So, as we go in for more automation, skilled employment and job security will increase.

What research says
According to a TechSci Research report, ‘India Factory Automation Market Forecast and Opportunities, 2020’, factory automation market in India is projected to register growth at a CAGR of around 12 per cent during 2015-2020. Growth in the market is anticipated on account of growing deployment of various factory automation systems in automotive, chemicals, and other manufacturing units, along with various government initiatives aimed at increasing domestic manufacturing.

This article was contributed by Surya Prasad S.

NT Bureau