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“Digital manufacturing together with IT to create a new paradigm”



To meet the fast-growing demand for vehicles, manufacturers are realigning their manufacturing methodologies through the implementation of enhanced automation process at every stage. At the same time, to raise core competitiveness, many automakers are adopting advanced technologies, ie, the amalgamation of digital manufacturing with information technology (IT) to create a new manufacturing paradigm. This is the present driving force to catalyse lean production and Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing, states Sameer Chitnis, FAID Business Development, Assistant GM, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt Ltd. In conversation with Rakesh Rao, Sameer Chitnis explains emerging trends in automotive industry and how factory automation is helping manufacturers raise productivity and efficiency.
 
How is Mitsubishi Electric India serving automation needs of the automotive industry?
Since its arrival in India, Mitsubishi Electric is empowering the Indian automotive industry with cutting-edge products and solutions. India’s economy is growing at an average rate of 7 per cent and due to rapid urbanisation, burgeoning consumer class, and Government’s supportive economic policies; the Indian automotive market is projected to be world’s third largest passenger-vehicle market by 2021. 
With mutual support and collaboration of almost 500 direct employees, 11 sales and 7 satellite offices, 5 service centers, 5 training centres, and 80 plus channel partners spread across the country, Mitsubishi Electric India’s Factory Automation & Industrial Division (FAID) is serving the Indian automotive industry with a wide range of its automation products like PLC, CNC, robots, VFDs, servos, switchgears, SCADA systems, and through various process solutions like MEL-PT & MEL-AVM etc. In India, we contribute in the production of around 76 per cent volumes of 4-wheeler passenger cars and around 91 per cent volumes of two-wheeler through its automation products. Mitsubishi Electric occupies a unique position in the Indian market, and it is the most preferred brand in the list of customers who prioritise product quality and reliability, quick support mechanism, and advanced process capabilities in the 2-wheeler & 4-wheeler segments.
 
What is the demand for factory automation solution from Indian industries?
While referring to the consistent increase in per capita income and purchasing power of Indian consumers, it is expected that the present ratio of 18 vehicles per thousand persons will move up to 500-600 vehicles per thousand persons by 2030. To suffice these massive volumes & first-rate quality needs, the automotive sector is realigning its manufacturing methodologies through the implementation of enhanced automation process at every stage. The implementation of the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine intelligence, machine vision and Internet of Things (IoT) in the process automation will be the game changer in the automotive manufacturing sector, thereby setting up unique standards in the global market. 
 
Besides having the conventional products, Mitsubishi Electric also has various innovative automotive solutions that support traceability, vehicle tracking, PIKA-PIKA, Poka-Yoke, And On, production monitoring systems, preventive maintenance system, and energy management systems with WAGES controllers. A dedicated automotive business development team having around 25 engineers and project managers focuses on every key automotive manufacturer and associates. There are many case studies regarding the successful deployment of these solutions and how our products have helped automotive manufacturers in enhancing their productivity, reducing defects, optimising energy consumption, and establishing better safety standards.
 
Is rise in demand for Digital Manufacturing (DM) increasing market for factory automation solution? 
As the world is moving forward with co-optive business modules, especially with the worldwide supply chain, product customisation for regional markets, and adopting stringent environmental and safety regulations, automobile manufacturers are witnessing a challenging environment. To raise core competitiveness, many automobile manufacturers are adopting advanced technologies, ie, the amalgamation of digital manufacturing with information technology to create a new manufacturing paradigm. This is the present driving force to catalyse lean production and Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing. At present, many leading automobile manufacturing companies in the world are persistently promoting the application of DM technologies, which has resulted in encouraging return on investment for them and targeting the quickest product deliverables as per dynamic market needs.
 
Alike 7Ps of marketing mix, automotive manufacturers have 7Ps in manufacturing attributing to its pressures like (1) Pressure of profit (2) Pressure of product innovation, (3) Pressure of dynamic sales demand, (4) Pressure of limited manufacturing capabilities, (5) Pressure of quality control, (6) Pressure of regional policies, and (7) Pressure of labours.
 
Automotive manufacturers in India have imminent challenges of the shortest Takt time (which is the speed with which the product needs to be created in order to satisfy the needs of the customer) of manufacturing line with almost zero-defect throughput deliverables along with optimised investment. 
 
We have credible experience since 2003, when e-f@ctory was first established our Nagoya factory in Japan and later rendering many solutions to several manufacturing units using our controllers, CNC, and robots. 
 
Mitsubishi Electric’s new iQ Platform with built in database management functionality with the support of its high-speed industrial ethernet network on CC-Link IE, enables real-time data stamping with edge analysis which is essential for DM. Being available with the direct interface embedded modules for ERP database systems (like SAP, Oracle, JMS, DB2, SQL, My SQL etc) and with PLC rack mounting facility, it saves the burden of separate IT infrastructure for the need of DM from Shop-floor to the ERP system. It also offers the open architecture to accommodate equipment of various automation makes and various network platforms
 
How are cloud computing and analytics giving a boost to automation?
With India’s growing potential, today’s automotive manufacturers need to establish several manufacturing setups on multiple locations depending upon the dynamics of their product market concentration and logistic convenience. Hence, the integrated shops, factories with integrated processes are becoming an inevitable part of these manufacturing establishments. Especially for the manufacturing facilities focusing on the export market, the traceability and genealogy solutions are strongly needed. The use of Cyber-Physical Space (CPS), especially with cloud computing, (either private or public cloud) can be adopted for not only to monitor and capture data, but also to implement the needful analytics with advance & real-time AI algorithms.
 
Mitsubishi Electric India’s FAID is supporting this new technology trend by introducing its industrial-use computer models - MELIPC with Edgecross package for edge computing to meet the need for advanced analytics. In the field of IoT, we also have solutions such as Smart Check Sensors, Energy Meters, Any Wire Systems, and Graphic Operational Controller (GOC).
 
What are the emerging trends observed in factory automation?
Lights-out manufacturing is the latest trend in manufacturing, and this refers to factories that operate autonomously and require no human presence. These robot-run settings often don’t even require lighting and consist of several machines functioning in the dark. As industrial technology grows increasingly pervasive; this wave of automation and digitization is being labeled as “e-F@ctory” in the Industry 4.0.
The future factories will hold different steps in the manufacturing process with respect to the existing practices in “Product R&D”, give a look that how platforms are democratizing R&D talent, the ways AI is helping material science, and how the drafting board of tomorrow could be an AR or VR headset. In “Resource Planning & Sourcing”, on-demand decentralised manufacturing and blockchain projects are working on the complexities of integrating suppliers. This will ease out on the capacity management and process management especially JIT for dependable vendor deliverables.
 
In “Operations Technology Monitoring and Machine Data”, real-time complex analysis of various process attributes are enabling future factories. First, factories will get basic digitization, and further along, we will see greater predictive power. In “Labor Augmentation & Management”, AR, wearables, and exoskeletons are augmenting human capabilities on the factory floor. In “Machining, Production & Assembly”, modular equipment and custom machines like 3D printers are enabling manufacturers to handle the greater demand for varieties.
 
Looking at how machine vision systems will find imperfections, emerging technologies like blockchain will more quickly be able to identify problems and implement recalls. In “Warehousing”, new warehouse demand could bring “lights-out” warehouses even faster than an unmanned factory, with the help of robotics and vision tracking. In “transport & supply chain management”, telematics, IoT, and autonomous vehicles will bring greater efficiency for manufacturers in delivering their products.
 


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