How Industrial Robots Can Make India Swadeshi: Applications in 2020

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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.


A Few Examples:

Ashok Leyland recently automated its cab panel pressing plant in Hosur, Tamil Nadu. It upgraded the existing dies and presses with industrial automation solutions increasing its output two-folds. “In a cab weld shop, digitization has enabled quick changeover of models, wherein with only soft touches, the entire process gets reset to the required model production. This ensures 100% product quality without defects.” said Harihar P., Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Project Planning, Ashok Leyland.

Engineering giant Larson & Toubro is also found rapidly automating shop floors and construction sites; welding is no longer a manual job at its shop floors. “The operator now sits in a console and monitors the process which provides a better work environment for him as well as improving the quality of the work done” said S. Anantha Sayana, Chief Digital Officer at L&T. “We have connected more than 9,600 pieces of equipment at over 400 project sites, by installing sensors and gateways which give us real-time data and visibility” Sayana said.


What does it mean to make India Swadeshi?

 

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.

 

Do Industrial Automation, RPA and Robotics play any role in advancing that as a goal?

 

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.
 

‘Make in India’

 

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

The ‘Make in India’ program launched by the government of India has placed the nation as a manufacturing hub on the world map which has caused a considerable increase in the focus on Automation of the manufacturing processes to support more ad-hoc production that allows manufacturers to be more agile and flexible in responding to rising customer demands and current stock levels in the supply chain.

The rising shift to Robotics, Industrial Automation Solutions and RPA has stated and sealed the fact that India is racing fast for digital utility. AjithNayar, Co-founder and CMO of a tech startup Camcom , which provides an AI platform for automated quality control, says, “There is more interest in our solutions, and the number of proposals being sent by us has grown exponentially since the lockdown as enterprises are looking at how the level of human interaction can be future-proofed.

He cites the example of a car insurance which requires onsite inspection.The necessitated human interaction here can now be done remotely through a platform that was developed for this purpose. This offers up twin dividends of lowered manpower cost and stabilizing services and securing revenue for the insurance companies.

Yes. In order for India to remain competitive, Indian manufacturing have to establish three things:

1) Increasing and stabilising a production capacity in terms of TAT, Volume and Cost

2) Reducing how much of the Production Chain is susceptible to external Force Majeure

3) Equipping Small and Medium Industries with the ability to perform at scale.

Over the past few years, leading industry giants like L&T have digitally transformed 60% of their construction business by installing sensory equipment and gateways. Automakers like Mahindra have automated 70% of their body shop methods.

 

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.

 

Finally, the question of China –

 

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.