Automation industry in India opportunities galore

Automation industry in India is growing at an annual rate of 20 to 25 per cent. The Indian automation market has acquired critical momentum in propelling the instrumentation, control and automation industry to a higher growth trajectory. Rajesh Nath, Managing Director of VDMA India analyses the varied aspects of this prime segment
Industry overview
India has the right mix of industry that provides excellent growth opportunities for the entire spectrum of automation products and systems. While Indian industry has accepted and is adopting enterprise solutions for business processes, it has yet to recognize the full potential of manufacturing automation and ‘collaborative systems’. India, with large investments taking place in various industries, provides strong growth prospects for automation in both the near and long-term.
Comparison with German Industry
India, is fast gaining much control in the field of automation, which until now, Western Europe like Germany enjoyed. The country’s reliance on automation for power plants, refineries, chemical and metal production is increasingly growing. There is a difference, though in that the degree of automation in India is less compared to Germany. As the volume of production goes up and the drive for higher cost efficiency continues, we anticipate that the gap in automation will be bridged in the coming years. India has never been the best implementer of automation technologies and on many occasions, the technologies that are available have not been effective because of the lack of this will to bring about effective combinations.
Machinery & Equipment is the second largest and most innovative industry in Germany, and as such, is one of major strategic importance. One of the fastest-growing M&E sectors is the Robotics and Automation industry. It is one of the technological motors that drives Germany as a high-tech nation, and one which combines all of the key future technologies including electronics, sensors, actuators, materials, and software. The R&A sector is the birthplace of many innovations which facilitate the high level of production efficiency helping to make manufacturing in Germany even more competitive.
A major guiding force behind the German R&A industry’s current positive development is the country’s highly industrialized environment. As Germany’s largest industries, the electronics, automotive, chemicals and food sectors are the main customers driving this growth. More than 11,000 companies with around 2.5 million employees are active in these four sectors and account for an overall combined turnover of approximately EUR 750 billion. The need for high-tech robotic and automation solutions in these industries is the key to survival within a global environment, and will accordingly continue to grow in importance in the future.
Scope of improvement
The Indian Industry today has realized the importance of cost reduction, rationalization of designs, efficiency and simplicity. These are some of the basic and fundamental requirements to keep the company on the go. Most of the demands of the customers can be met by optimizing the requirements from the big range of hardware and software. India still needs to take a leap forward to match the steps of the world; the awareness is gradually changing the way man-machine interaction has ever occurred in the country.
For the Indian industry it is imperative to implement automation. This will help to reduce cost and will ensure optimal utilization of resources. Further automation can help to improve quality which in turn will pave the way for the Indian manufacturers to compete on a global scale. A good application area is in automobile and auto component industry. Here India is gaining global recognition. The volumes will go up substantially. Hence automating the processes can help to cope with the growing demand and ensure reliable and stable quality.
Potential sectors
Over the past two decades, India’s service sector has gained reputation in the world market for its high quality and low cost. But the same cannot be said about its manufacturing sector. Indian manufacturing, barring a few items, hardly has any significant global presence. However, in recent years, with the ease in foreign investment norms, a number of foreign companies have set up businesses in India. The automation industry in India began taking shape and growing. The automation solutions bring about three major changes in the production plants. First, it makes product quality better and consistent. Second, it increases the production capacity by several times; and third, it makes the plants safer places to work, minimizing the risk of accidents. Medium and small manufacturers will play a significant role in the demand chain. The penetration of automation products has been low as only large manufacturers have been using it, but small and medium players could draw significant benefit by automating. The automation industry will experience significant increase in demand. Apart from automotive, steel, process and pharma sectors there is sign of demand increase from not only other metal industries but new sectors like forging, food processing, packaging, glass, refractory, ceramics to name a few.
Automation can improve the quality of work for employees by reducing exposure to unhealthy or unsafe environments. Automated systems increase productivity and efficiency, thereby making projects more economically viable. Timing and social issues are major considerations when implementing automated systems. Automation plays an increasingly important role in the global economy, particularly at this time when available resources are becoming scarce.
However, for success of automation it is essential for the OEMs to understand the actual requirement and discuss the possible problems and solutions in a candid manner with the suppliers. This would help the supplier in offering specific options according to the application. Further ‘hand-holding’ from the supplier side will help the customer in adapting to the new solution. Knowledge and training are important to make a process work and to ensure the success of the application. Also regular updates and technology up gradation is essential.

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