In order for us to answer what impact Industrial Robots can have in the attempt to #MakeInIndia actually make in India– we have to evaluate three ideas simultaneously.
First, what does it mean to make India Swadeshi? Second, do Industrial Automation, Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and Robotics play any role in advancing that as a goal? And third, is there any precedent for this dynamic?
With the quasi-resumption of production services in the consumer market, we have solidified what was a theory at the beginning of the lockdown. Specifically that the entire value chain grinding to a halt would lead to the greatest impact falling on the grocery shop-floors. And conversely, that when we would face those shortages, while manageable in the short term, the market would push back even harder on the upmarket manufacturers and force them to produce by any means necessary.
This led to an unprecedented surge in the deployment of technology focusing on Industrial Robots, Automation and Digitization.
The application of RPA has made Indian shop floors go smart by increased Point-of-Sale throughput while managing to move the same amount of inventory with fewer planning and manpower resources!
So what does ‘Automation in Industries’ look like? It’s the employment of computer-aided devices to operate industrial processes with zero or negligible human involvement, and by dint of it the most critical part of any nation’s economic life, i.e. manufacturing, has seen new colours of success in its surge of efficiency and productivity.
For the last two years the US Federal Reserve has hiked interest rate in the money market which has pushed up the value of the dollar. The costs of India’s imports have also increased due to the rise in crude oil prices in the world market. The government, on the one hand, is under pressure to reduce fuel prices and simultaneously it also has to control the further depreciation of the rupee. This is a tricky situation since the foreign exchange market and oil are both completely unregulated in India.
That’s where the push for being #LocalforVocal came from. Even before the Coronavirus outbreak India was consuming more, faster than ever before. The declining Rupee was compounded by the cost of crude oil needed to make and move those goods.
So in #MakeInIndia we have a single solution to solve both problems.
Simply put, if we produced and consumed locally – in addition to supporting SMEs and creating employment – we would also be in a better position cost wise.
Small and Medium Industries having access to Tier B and Urban markets, substitiuting market share currently controlled by Product Value Chains that rely on imported Raw Material, CBU white appliances and goods, homologated part or full imports.
Hitherto under-consumed goods and services, a few examples being tourism, paid companionship, wellness services, and myriad forms of entertainment should see a spurt in consumption. Many of these are associated with time-intensive consumption and human capital-intensive production. The employment thus generated will further increase aggregate demand, thus counteracting the initial tendency for contraction of employment and national income. An expansion of employment and economic activity in the next 20 years is thus not only possible but very probable.
Manufacturers are adopting automation and digitization for their manufacturing and production processes in various ways like re-designing engineering components, operations and maintenance, and all of this is being brought into practice for a common goal- achieving increased end-to-end efficiency. Their aim is to create connectivity throughout the entire production value chain which can help them in obtaining the same output via less input or increasing output through the same amount of input. In other words, the focus remains on doing more with less .
Some of the manufacturers are reluctant to integrate these advancements in their production processes, as they believe that these will incur huge costs in ripping and replacing the installed assets and also in getting new ones in their places, but that is not accurate since Digitization and Industrial Automation Solutions are built on what is already installed –specifically, allowing deployment of such platforms to better automate, visualise and control data.
An overload of data is also rendering the manufacturers immobile to switch between methodologies of operation, but the Application of Industrial Robots and Robotics Process Automation does not fabricate prodigious amounts of data, whereas it remolds it into a smarter data that is a necessity for more informed business decisions to identify bottlenecks and opportunities.
program seeks to increase the share of manufacturing in GDP from about 16% to 25% by 2022.
The Indian Railways was able to reap 20% increase in efficiency
Automation and RPA specifically have become necessity of basic day-to-day operations. There were challenges of remote working, e-commerce, security, supply chain, business processes and software use all of which became bottlenecks that collapsed under the sudden load of the pandemic causing the employment of these technological developments to rise really high. All these are part of Industry 4.0 which is poised to transform the manufacturing industry with myriads of benefits ensuring upto 30% or more energy savings. They will leverage all IoT-enabled systems, including cloud and mobile computing, in accessing real-time data and analytics, propelling manufacturing into a new era of greater efficiency, higher productivity and better safety.
More than 1 million robots are located in the Asian markets (including China), with China having 33.7% of them. Moreover, the annual growth rate in the number of industrial robots is particularly high in China, to the extent that it is expected to surpass that of the EU28 by the end of 2021. The robotisation of the Chinese industries had a peak in the previous decade with a mass introduction of Robots in production. That was not the case for the EU, US and Japan, where the robotisation started much earlier and evolved in a much smoother way.
Fig: Growth of Operation Stock of Industrial Robots
The prevalence within the EU28 can be attributed to the region’s strong automobile branch, where more than 170,000 robots take part in the production process:
Fig: Number of Industrial Robots across sectors in EU in 2016
Nevertheless, when we take into account the recent trends, we observe that the intensity of robotisation has been shifting beyond automobile, in sectors that are less “mature” in being automated – such as mining and quarrying, other manufacturing branches and electricity supply:
Fig: Percentage Annual Growth in Number of Robots across EU sectors in 2016
So, the case for Automation – whether through RPA or Robotics, is clear.
The largest producer in the region is also the largest in the world, and what’s powering is the concerted effort to shift towards Automation and Industry 4.0.