Director, Member Managing Board
Siemens Ltd. and CEO
Industry Sector-South Asia
How have trends in automation evolved in Indian
chemical and allied industries over the past few
Chemical industry is one of the oldest industries in
India that contributes significantly towards industrial &
economic growth of the nation. Traditionally, it has also
been one of the strongest users of automation technology
due to demanding nature of the manufacturing processes
Going beyond conventional use, today, the trend is
to integrate manufacturing processes with IT by way
of MES (Manufacturing Execution System) and PLM
(Product Lifecycle Management), so that the efficiency
improvement is extended beyond manufacturing
process to the complete value chain of the organization.
Sustainability will be one of the key drivers in immediate
future due to growing concern for the environment, leading to use of automation technology for energy
management & optimizing processes by way of
advance process control in such a way so as to
consume least possible energy and raw material.
May we have your comment on nature and magnitude
of opportunities available for automation
industry players in India across various verticals?
Today, opportunities available for automation in
India across various verticals are growing multifold
due to various factors. Increasing population, present
lower per capita consumption and increasing
purchasing power is driving the demand upwards.
On one hand, the opportunities are on account of
additional capacities being put in place to meet growing
demand. On the other hand, the level of automation,
which is relatively low in India as compared to global
standards, itself is being redefined upwards.
All in all, the environment is very much encouraging
for automation industry players in India.
What are the major Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities
and Threats for the Indian manufacturing
sector and how can automation play a role in it?
Availability of skilled and low cost workforce as
well as availability of natural resources in terms of
raw material and fossil fuel has been India’s strength,
whereas lack of adequate infrastructure to support
planned growth has been our major weakness.
Growing population and disposable income
combined with today’s low per capita consumption
offers significant opportunity for growth for
manufacturing sector in general. Increasing trade
barriers by major export markets like US, countries
operating on similar low cost production model like
India are some of the threats which the industry must
take note of.
Automation can help the Indian manufacturing sector to be competitive by improving productivity, quality consistency, and flexibility of the manufacturing process, reducing time to market and also helping manufacturers to meet safety and compliance requirements.
What are the challenges for the automation industry players in the Indian market and how does Siemens address these?
Automation industry players in India always have to 'justify' investments towards automation. Siemens' approach always has been to optimise lifecycle costs and hence draw attention of our customers towards ‘Total Cost of Ownership', helping customers to decide on investments towards automation.
One of the challenges is integration of various automation platforms in a manufacturing environment, to avoid ‘automation islands’. Other major challenge is to convey and realise the true value of the offered automation solution to the user, avoiding commoditisation in the process.
One of the focus area is to understand customers processes and thereby requirements, and offer/execute optimum solutions meeting such requirements. This results in implementation of optimum solutions, leading to customer satisfaction.
What lessons does the Indian industry need to learn from other emerging nations towards adopting automation technologies?
We should plan for growth but at the same time we should also be aware of the side effect of such growth. Today, increasing labor costs in China has caused countries like Bangladesh to grab opportunities on the basis of cost competitiveness. So for us, the challenge will be to grow without diluting our strengths.
We should make sustainability and environmental protection an essential part of the solution.
To effectively implement the global technologies, we should bring together global and local players, as global players might have best of the technologies, but the local players know their customers best.
All in all, we should learn both positives and negatives about adopting automation technology from countries that have already fully embraced it.
Automation has brought a par-adigm shift in the overall plant and business operations. What are the trends that are yet to enter the Indian market?
Today, manufacturing sector has to launch new products featuring top quality on global markets in shortest time periods possible and at attractive prices. The only way to ensure success throughout the entire production lifecycle is the application of highly efficient product lifecycle management (PLM). Seamless interaction with the factory lifecycle management represents a further decisive success factor.
Therefore, today, two subjects are increasingly focused globally: 'Digital factory' and 'Digital engineering'. Automation is at the heart of this technology. The optimisation of production process is being realised by simulating the processes in ‘digital factory', whereas ‘digital engineering’ software facilitates the seamless transfer of the digital factory into the real production factory and thus sets new automation standards in terms of machine and factory engineering. This is one of the most significant trends that will seamlessly integrate processes from product design to production, thereby making the entire lifecycle highly efficient.
Tell us about the trends you foresee in Indian market and where do you see automation in India after 5 years?
In future, the pressure on efficiency (and production costs) will only go up, forcing the manufactures to implement highly efficient processes. 'Transparency' of production processes to ensure 'tracing and tracking' of the products manufactured will also be a necessary requirement. Regulatory, safety and environmental demands will become more stringent and adherence to them will be mandatory. 'Sustainability' will be the key driver for the way production processes will be handled in future. The gap between information technology and automation will seize to exist. Users will 'feel' the automation hardware through IT and software.
Globalisation of marketplace will be the key driver for automation in India, as this will ensure that the Indian industry adapts to the best of the technology available, to remain competitive globally. Automation industry will thus increasingly contribute towards success of the manufacturing sector in future.