Web-Seminar: Interactive Panel Discussion on “Role of Automation in Manufacturing – Impact of Covid-19” on Tuesday 9th June 2020

VDMA india

In the recent past months, Covid -19 has presented serious challenges for both human and business. From the business perspective, the manufacturing industry is one of the most severely impacted.

These unprecedented circumstances provide an opportunity to the manufacturing sector to increase automation Post Covid-19. The MSME Segment is now confronted with the absence of labour and social distancing practices. Thus, the manufacturing sector need to adopt automation on their shop floor. Thus, Covid-19 crisis has certainly acted as catalyst to the transition to automation

Hence, to have an in depth insights and understand the readiness of Indian manufacturers towards adoption of automation, VDMA India organized an Interactive Panel Discussions on “Role of Automation in Manufacturing - Impact of Covid-19” on Tuesday 9th June 2020 in association with Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

VDMA India had the privilege to have the following esteemed panelists for the panel discussions: 

Prof. Dr. Amaresh Chakrabarti, Senior Prof and Chairman, Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing- IISC, Bangalore
Mr. Bipin Jirge, Managing Director, ifm electronic India Private Ltd
Mr.Ravi Agarwal, Managing Director, Pepperl & Fuchs Factory Automation Pvt Ltd.
Mr. Jitendrakumar Kataria, Managing Director, Beckhoff Automation Pvt.Ltd.
Mr.Pradip David, General Manager South Asia, Universal Robots (India) Pvt. Ltd




The session was moderated by Mr. S. Manohar, Regional Head, VDMA India. In his opening remark, he mentioned, that the Covid-19, pandemic is being compared to a Black Swan effect. Black Swan events are extremely rare and highly improbable. They share two strong characteristics of unpredictable and having a massive impact.

India is a country with an advantage of large labor force; rise of non availability of labor has forced the industry to accelerate adoption of automation in manufacturing. A poll was conducted, to analyze the level of automation undertaken in shop floor or on the product application before commenced of the session. The majority of the audience found 37% at a moderate level of automation, 33% of participants felt low level of automation and 19% implemented a high level of automation, and followed by 11% of audience, who are yet to undertaken in their shop floor.



Automation on a large scale in the industry helps to avoid human errors in the shop floor. But, manufacturing’s biggest source of innovation and intelligence will always be people. When our panelist asked, how India can achieve productivity by balancing Automation and people in manufacturing, Prof. Amaresh Chakrabarti, said that though the automation will be able to perform a critical work but it will always lag the human intelligence, organization have to think about more collaboration of human intelligence and automation. He quoted with an example of Italian Car Company, where they manufacture very efficient car with fully automation but it requires a craftsmanship skills which is fulfilled by the human. Therefore with human and automation collaboration organization can achieve the goal of producing better quality product. 

The touchless Automation involves moving a components without touching it. This solution allows manipulating components of any material, in a delicate way that was impossible until today. Speaking on this, Mr. Pradeep David, mentioned that the Indian manufacturer should sympathize on touch free automation by focusing on robots. Amalgamation of this technology is the right fit for enterprises. Emphasizing on the adoption of robots, he said that the robotic market has been growing rapidly with an increase of 45% CAGR.
He also mentioned that china has implemented 140 robots per 10,000 people and the Indian manufacturers have implement 4 robots per 10,000 people. Thus, we need to adopt cutting edge technologies to become a reliable source to world.
The technology solutions like IIoT, AR/VR, ADV, Digital Twins are the leading tools in smart manufacturing. When Mr. Ravi Agarwal were asked to advice on this topic, he Said that India is diverse country, with a wide spectrum of applications. Further he mentioned that the quality and supply chain will be the goals of the enterprise in the coming future and this can be achieved by focusing on smart manufacturing. The technologies like Digital twins are now being used to manage the performance, and effectiveness.

The next question was asked to Mr. Bipin Jirge regarding the benefits of predictive maintenance and remote diagnostics through connected machines. He said that the life of the machine can be increased by 10 % through continuously monitoring the machines. He mentioned that by monitoring ONLY two variables “Temperature” and Vibration”, the MSME’s can effectively reduce maintenance activities/cost by 45% throughout the life of the machine.

The manufacturing industry is increasingly moving towards an era of smart manufacturing where shop floor and the supply chain are progressively getting interconnected. The question raised to Mr. Jitendra Kataria on the data security challenges for implementing Digitalization in manufacturing. Replying to this, Mr. Jitendra Kataria, mentioned, Beckhoff Automation has been continuously following VDMA security policies as mentioned in the on OPC UA guidelines bought out by VDMA to keep a safeguard from security breach. The security vulnerabilities have always been changing with times, hence we need a security policies and tools right from design phase to manufacturing.
VDMA conducted a poll to learn the reasons of the MSME sector being hesitant/ reluctant to investment in automation. The results were, 52% of the attendees found that the initial investments are high and 15% of the participants mentioned that skills were inadequate and technology is complex for investment in automation and finally 19% feels No tangible gains or ROI.



When panelist was asked on importance of I4.0 in Indian context and challenges would be for Indian companies especially for MSME to adopt it, Prof. Chakraborty said that an industry 4.0 is not a milestone it’s a journey. Indian manufacturers need to take a challenge of producing a quality product by connectivity of machines with an Industry 4.0 technology. If a manufacturer wants to produce a 10 times cheap products then they need to invest in technology which could decode the faults and fixed it within the constraint time.  He finds it is an opportunity for the Indian manufacturer to come up with an innovative solution by leveraging IT services.
The next question was asked to Mr. Jitendra Kataria, regarding the technology behind the OPC UA standard and its relevance to Indian context. He said that OPC UA is a part of industry 4.0 which requires a digitalization and connectivity. It enables an industry to integrate its products and its production by information and communication technology. OPC UA is not a competition, its open service based architecture, where you can have a connectivity of machines with different manufacturer. VDMA is closely working with German Institutions for establishing the OPC UA platform and also the VDMA guideline shows how companies can successfully introduce industry 4.0 communication with OPC UA.
When panelist was asked on organizational culture and skills improvement required for automation. Mr. Bipin Jirge said that learning about automation in a manufacturing should be incorporated from top management to the working level group.  The developing of a culture is not short term because it goes through a several challenges and difficulties therefore a well-developed culture can help an organization to undergo transformation for building automation in a manufacturing.
When the panelist was asked, what new paradigm of leadership challenges/requirement in a digital factory, Mr. Ravi Agarwal said that leaders should find out challenges and problems that are being faced by an organization instead of changing the culture of the enterprise. The organizations should adopt technologies that are impactful and where changes are required. Further he said, the proper application of right technology is the ladder to the future. Hence leadership should be leading from the front in adopting technologies to change the organizations.

The next question was asked to Mr. Pradeep David regarding the emerging business models due to automation and digitalization on shop floor. He suggested to the participants that they should focus on the Partial Automation where 80% of a work to be done by the robots and rest 20% can be done by humans. So, organization can drop their cost of a manufacturing. Second point he mentioned about the Flexible Automation, where an organization can implement a Cobot, which are quick in installation. Therefore, manufacturer can move their robots based on their requirements on their production line. Third point he mentioned that the Democratization of Robots means a machine for every manufacturer. He quoted with an example of small manufacturer from Kolhapur, where they have adopted Robots with 10 work force and employees are able to change programs of the robots as per their requirements at the factory. Last point he mentioned about the Women Empowerment in the shop floor. He quoted with an example of Bajaj auto, where women can perform heavy work with the help Cobots.
VDMA India conducted a last poll, to learn about the drivers of automation in Mechanical Engineering industry post Covid Lockdown. The majority of participant with 35% found that the cost effectiveness will be the main growth driver, 26% are predicting productivity could be the driver and followed by 25% labour shortage and 15% consistent quality.



Referring to last the question on how MSME can be motivated to go for an automation, Mr. Ravi Agarwal, said that the MSMEs are back bone of the Indian Manufacturing and quoted, technology is catalyst to the manufacturer to face the challenges and as long as there is technology, there is will go power for MSME.
In his concluding remark, Mr. Manohar said that even though technical automation potential does vary greatly across the global economy. The fact that 81 percent of the world’s automatable manufacturing hours and 49 percent of automatable labor value reside in developing countries means that an upswing in automation in the developing world could have significant global impact. Considering that 48 percent of the automatable manufacturing hours in the developing world exits in India alone, we see potential for major automation-driven disruption in India, although how long that could take will depend, in part, on the speed with which the costs of automation solutions fall to below wage levels in India.
VDMA India extended thanks to the esteemed panelists who contributed immensely with their width and depth of experience and knowledge on this domain. Also would like to thanks the participants, who attended and contributed in large numbers
The web-seminar received an overwhelming response as maximum registration limit of 100 participants from the industry and German engineering fraternity was attained within 2 min of starting the web-seminar.