Welding lags behind machining in technology adoption
June 9, 2023 2:46 pm
Mr. Kamath addresses the shortage of skilled workers and intends to promote Fronius’ solution of skill centres, collaboration with universities, and training programs with scholarships and employment opportunities.
How does Fronius promote sustainable manufacturing in welding through its skill centres and innovation?
Fronius, renowned for its expertise in the welding industry and innovative techniques, has established skill centres in multiple facilities. These centres are aligned with the growing trend of sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing. The primary objective is to introduce energy-efficient welding solutions that contribute to both cost-effectiveness and efficiency in the welding processes while reducing CO2 emissions. One significant innovation in this regard is the elimination of post-welding operations like grinding, which minimises energy consumption and reduces the requirement for additional labour. Additionally, we prioritise data collection, enabling precise monitoring and analysis of welding operations. This data-driven approach facilitates continuous improvement efforts, ensuring optimal performance and enhancing welding processes.
How do you integrate sustainability principles into its manufacturing processes?
When it comes to manufacturing, the principle is straightforward. We must strive to produce goods using natural resources at the lowest possible cost. By emphasising efficiency, effectiveness and maintaining product quality, we can ensure that our manufacturing processes do not harm the environment. Moreover, products must have a long lifecycle and be recycled in the most efficient manner possible. By utilising all the materials in our products and considering the city’s needs, we can make sustainable manufacturing a reality.
At Fronius, we make sustainability a core aspect of every decision. In our facilities across the country, such as Pune, Chennai, Delhi and Pune, we have invested in rooftop solar systems to power our operations. By using solar energy, we avoid drawing energy from the grid.
What practices are you following that offer you a cutting edge, especially from the manufacturing perspective?
From a manufacturing perspective, our role as a manufacturer or manufacturing company is not simply to sell a product but to provide a comprehensive solution to our customers. This sets us apart and gives us a competitive edge. We must build a talent bank comprising skilled and efficient individuals to deliver effective solutions. However, in today’s competitive landscape, creating and maintaining such a talent bank poses challenges due to the abundance of opportunities available nationwide. Therefore, it is crucial to continually upgrade our people’s technological skills and provide them with a favourable working environment. While some may question the need for a state-of-the-art facility for welding machines, offering solutions requires understanding customer problems and challenges. By offering a range of solutions instead of a single option, customers have the freedom to choose, making this our second cutting-edge technology.
As a family-owned business, we pride ourselves on being a 78-year-old company and are committed to remaining as such. We invest our funds in the business, and this independence allows us to make decisions aligned with our values and what is best for the environment. Furthermore, our products have a remarkable lifespan, with welding products lasting 25-30 years, solar products lasting 35 years, and perfect charging products lasting 20 years.
Our recent cutting-edge technology is that all our machines operate on a Linux-based platform, allowing easy upgrades similar to laptops or smartphones. It is as simple as downloading the app; customers can keep their machines up-to-date without purchasing new equipment. Additionally, our machines are designed to perform multiple processes, eliminating the need for customers to buy separate machines for different tasks. This not only saves manufacturing resources but also reduces customer investments.
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What is the current status of Industry 4.0 implementation in the welding industry compared to machining in India?
In India, Industry 4.0 is now a reality, although its successful implementation in welding still needs to catch up compared to machining. Achieving full realisation of Industry 4.0 in welding may take some time. Our machines are already equipped for Industry 4.0, requiring only a connection to the LAN and a configured IP address to access the data. However, data capturing in this context is a double-edged sword as it can be useful and potentially misused. Industry 4.0 will likely become more widespread by 2025, but only a few companies have successfully implemented it.
How does Fronius address the challenge of changing the perception of welding in the manufacturing industry?
The most significant challenge in the manufacturing industry is changing the mindset surrounding welding. Even today, welding is often understood as and is relegated to the end of the manufacturing process. To address this challenge, we have ensured that all Fronius offices maintain a uniform look, with the same tables, chairs, welding machines, and standardised safety and health measures across the country. We aim to dispel the myth that welding is a 3D process that is dusty and dangerous. Instead, we strive to transform it into a cool, clean, and clever process. The key to overcoming this challenge is altering the perception of welding through a mindset shift. Only that can elevate the status of welding in the manufacturing industry.
Welding is currently one of the highest-paid processes in the industry. Individuals skilled in welding can earn lakhs of rupees per month within our country. Moreover, there are ample opportunities overseas in countries like the US, Canada, and Europe. At Fronius, we have established technical training centres in various parts of the country, and each year we export 30 to 50 welders to European countries. People need to recognise the value of welding as a profession and the potential it holds.
How has the integration of technology and connectivity transformed the welding industry?
At Fronius, we believe in connecting metal and people. Welding has witnessed significant technological advancements with the emergence of the internet and computers. Our welding machines are like computers, equipped with an IP address like any smartphone. They are upgradeable and provide a human-machine interface, allowing seamless integration with various robotic OEM manufacturers. These machines communicate much faster than they did a decade ago, and we expect even faster communication in the future as they remain upgradable.
How can we inspire and attract more students to pursue a career in welding and address the shortage of skilled workers in the industry?
The industry has a shortage of skilled workers, and our skill centre was established to address this issue. During the inaugural address of the new skill centre, I had the opportunity to interact with many students and encourage them to consider our certification program even after they graduate. If we can spark a passion for welding in the younger generation and attract them to this field, we will have achieved our objective.
Along with two other centres collaborating with universities, the recently opened centre aims to attract some students to pursue welding. Furthermore, in Pune and through our partnerships with the Center of Excellence, we have initiated a program called FACT (Fronius Academic Centre for Skill Training). This program offers comprehensive training and 100% scholarships to underprivileged students after their 10th grade. We train them in welding and subsequently provide employment opportunities in the industry with competitive salary packages. We have successfully placed 39 welders in Pune, and we have a requirement for over 500 skilled individuals from all over the country. While it may appear challenging, we are determined and enthusiastic about achieving our goals.