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“India is a research & development hub for global projects”

At the recently concluded electronica India 2018 trade fair, Murata - a global leader in the design, manufacture and sale of ceramic-based passive electronic components & solutions, communication modules and power supply modules - showcased the Smart Factory Automation Solutions with display of products for predictive maintenance, asset tracking, data correction and integration. With the government focusing on Digital India initiative, Murata can contribute as a technology enabler to industrial devices, machine manufacturers through its components, modules products, etc, says Choi Yong Suk, Managing Director, Murata Electronics (India) Pvt Ltd. In conversation with Rakesh Rao, he elaborates on emerging trends in automation and how industries are opting for latest electronic technologies as factories become smarter.
Kindly brief us about Murata Electronics' business in India.
Automotive is one of our core markets in India, with more than half of Murata India’s revenue coming from the automotive customers. Not only Tier 1 or Tier 2, we are also strengthening our relationships with Tier 0 and local OEMs in India. As an important targeted market, we are currently paying more attention and liaising with the related customers. On the other hand, we are also doing the marketing for the whole line up of Murata’s products for various electronics markets and electrical industries. 
How is the demand for ceramic-based electronic components - globally and in India? What is driving the demand?
As a leading global manufacturer in ceramic base electronics components, our ceramic based product coverage is wide - from passive components, modules to functional substrates. We are seeing demand from communication and automotive segments. Cloud service expansion (server) and automotive electrification is driving up the demand now and, in the near future, 5G proliferation will bring us further boost of demand from global and India.
At the recently concluded electronica India 2018 trade fair, Murata showcased the Smart Factory Automation Solutions. What is the significance of these solutions?
The theme of our exhibition this year is Smart Factory Automation (SFA). However, the products that we have showcased are not only limited to SFA’s applications only. They can be used for other applications such as automotive. One of our key words is “electrification” of the automotive industry. Murata’s core technologies will contribute to automotive electrification gradually, such as the hybrid cars and electric vehicles (EVs). 
From the safety aspect, we have passive components and a comprehensive range of sensor technologies. For example, we are trying to integrate the ultrasonic sensors into the vehicles in India for the reverse parking feature. Building block enables automotive customers to achieve the final goals feature. Regarding applications on assets foundation, such as timing devices, sensors, and ceramic substrates - these can be provided globally for power trains applications.
In addition, ADAS, traveling assistance, autonomous, V2X, and V2V, offer plenty of possibilities – travelling behaviours, monitoring and analysing how to capture the road information as data. Autonomous in not only talking about inside the car, but also apply to road infrastructure and eco-system, such as data of traffic condition, road monitoring condition. Automotive alone is now transforming to mobility. Murata would like to contribute to enhancing the utilisation of our technology for those features.
Murata’s offering is focused on sensing and wireless communications, which is inevitable for Industry 4.0. We believe we can contribute by helping our end-users to realise their concepts into actual products
How will customers from industrial and automotive sectors benefit from Smart Factory Automation Solutions?
With our broad variety of sensors and communication modules, we can detect worker’s location and safety information by some wearable devices. Using our communication module, we can transmit the data to cloud or centralise the control tower, so that server can detect and secure the safety of the workers. By adding sensors to machineries, the cost of machineries down time can be reduced, and efficiency can be increased. This is not only applicable for automotive but for other applications too. By doing so, we are also trying to learn about the problems, and in return, this can be provide good hints to creating new products to resolve the issues.
Data analytics followed up preventive maintenance will be the key words for factory automation especially in those industries which involve large scale facilities and manpower for production efficiency and safety. We believe that in the connected world, data acquisition, analytics, artificial intelligence will be common proceedings across industries to support the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon. As immediate synergy point, Murata wants to contribute our cutting edge technologies in the area of data acquisition. 
Do you think India is ready for Smart Factory Automation Solutions?
We are viewing India as a R&D hub for global projects. Besides, there is also strong interest in Indian government initiatives for ‘Digital India’ which is expected to be realised soon. Murata can contribute as a technology enabler to industrial devices, machine manufacturers through our components, modules products and also to factories with unique products to be readily adopted like RFID tags and wireless sensors. We want to contribute in the ecosystem and seek cooperation with other stakeholders in the ecosystem to provide solutions to our customers to meet their present and future needs.
Of the 4 Smart Factory Automation Solutions (Data Visualization & Analysis; Machine Monitoring; Operator Monitoring; and Asset/WIP Monitoring) which are of more significance to India?
It depends on each client’s needs and requirement. Given the fact that it is still not at full blooming stage yet, it might be too early to designate the specific area. However, we are hearing clients’ inquiries from all those four aspects.
As a matter of fact, there will be different challenges and needs from different types of factories and also geographical influence. With existing products, we are trying to seek understanding of the challenges, needs faced by the factories in India and consider the appropriate product roadmaps to enable technologies and support a perfect “Make in India” dream initiatives to factories in India.
Which end-user industries are the key users of Murata's products globally and in India?
Traditional business was selling and also promoting products to customers. However, new players are coming up into automotive market, which means there are no guarantees that the current major market shareholder can continuously lead the market in future. Many start-ups are also blooming in India. Electrification of cars and new concepts for cars are coming up. Murata is focusing on these markets, hence, preparing for the future booming of those kinds of industries. We will keep supporting the current customers and more potential on paradigm shift area. We foresee the trend that some of the markets will move towards that area. 
How are you serving automotive industry - globally and in India?
We would like to see the possibility of reverse innovation as well. We would like to be prepared for the sudden use case is here. We also believe that we can find the seeds of needs and then define the needs to make new products by using our existing and new technologies to contribute and share them to the global market.
What kind of opportunities are you looking at in Indian automotive industry?
Indian government has adopted new regulation for the safety purpose. As a result of this regulation, demand is coming for our product like capacitor and thermistor. For example, seat belt will bring demands for piezo products, such as buzzer, whereby it can detect if the passenger is wearing the seat belt or not. We can expect more demand due to the new regulations of the government, but this could be just for a short term.
In the long term, Indian automotive industry will move towards V2X (a form of technology that allows vehicles to communicate with moving parts of the traffic system around them). Car to car communication will become essential. At such, many passive components and communication modules will be needed. We are preparing for such future demand. Our products span whole demands of passives and communication modules from powertrain, safety, security, infotainment, V2X, ECU – covering both types of compositional and EV powered automotives.
India has huge a 2-wheeler (2W) and 4-wheeler (4W) market domestically and we hope Murata can contribute to cater to the needs of the market accordingly.
How do you plan to grow your business in India?
Murata aims to develop new business together with our Indian partner-customers, including by supporting smart-factory automation, in response to government initiatives to increase manufacturing and efforts to increase process efficiency for factory automation. We would like to provide our value not only with our own products but also with our partners/alliance, showing synergy, in order to fulfill our clients’ requirements timely. For that objective, we will keep looking for local talents who can share our vision and missions, and grow together with us.

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