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Robotics: A handy tool in India’s manufacturing 2020 mission

  • 02-May-2018
  • Articles|Technical Articles


By 2020, robotics growth will accelerate the talent race in the world, leaving 35% of robotics-related jobs vacant while the average salary increases by at least 60%. Pradeep David believes India should have a unified policy for commercial robotics to tap the emerging market opportunity.
 
Manufacturing is undergoing the industry’s greatest change in more than 100 years. The industrial revolution, commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, is powered by advancements that include smart manufacturing, robotics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT). Industry 4.0 has highly intelligent connected systems that create a fully digital value chain. It particularly based on cyber physical production systems that integrate communications, IT, data and physical elements and wherein these systems transform the traditional plants into smart factories.
 
During the last 20 years, globalisation has drastically changed the manufacturing world. No longer bound by geography, many companies moved their production elsewhere solely based on the reduction in labour costs. As a result, more-developed countries lost their manufacturing industry, and with it a significant share of jobs. Today, this trend is slowly reversing, due in part to the increase in the labour costs in many emerging economies, as well as to a revisiting of the factors which originally led to relocation.
 
Five-way impact
 
In addition to prompting manufacturers to invest $ 267 billion in the IoT by 2020, Industry 4.0 is revolutionising manufacturing along five dimensions:
 
Seeing around corners in 360°: New tools are allowing companies to create and test situations in the virtual world, to simulate the design process and the assembly line before an actual product is created. Simulating the product-creation phase helps cut down on manufacturing time and ensure the manufacturing process delivers what companies intended to create. Manufacturers are also using augmented reality (AR) solutions for remote assistance, allowing people in different locations around the world to connect in a live view and trouble-shoot together. 
 
Viewing the fourth wave in 3D: Also making a mark in the manufacturing world is 3-D printing, which allows for the seamless creation of tangible products using a single machine. This is a fundamental change, because it gives you a lot more possibilities for how you design a part. Three-dimensional printing reduces waste by recycling plastic and cuts down on the wait time for replacement parts and transportation. Its implications for mass production are various, making advancements possible in products ranging from toys to medical devices.
 
Advanced manufacturing on autopilot: Automation is another vital aspect of the industry’s future. Automation enables a level of accuracy and productivity beyond human ability - even in environments that would be considered unsafe for humans. The new generation of robotics is not only much easier to program, but easier to use, with capabilities like voice and image recognition to re-create complex human tasks. Another advantage of robots is that they do precisely what you ask them to do. While automation eliminates some of the most tedious manufacturing jobs, it is also creating new jobs for a re-trained workforce.
 
Building intelligent factories in the cloud: In addition to robotics and virtual reality, factories environments are also driving advancements in cloud computing and smart sensors. Smart sensors can perform tasks such as converting data into different units of measurement, communicating with other machines, recording statistics and feedback and shutting off devices if a safety or performance issue arises. IoT functionality can track and analyse production quotas, consolidate control rooms and create models of predictive maintenance. Data from augmented and virtual reality, as well as increased customer feedback, will have a significant impact on research and development, giving consumers more of what they want, getting it to them faster and cutting down on costs - a system that ultimately will drive innovation.
 
Robots on the rise managed by humans: The bulk of automation are used for work that would be considered unsafe or impossible for humans. This makes robots a complement to, not a replacement for, human workers. Because of robots, we’ll be able to increase our output. While there are still some significant challenges ahead, the outlook are strong despite the obvious concern of robots 
displacing jobs.
 
The production process will still need people who can manage new operations, manage the robotics, program them and maintain them. Just as there was a shift from farm work to factory work in the early 20th century, almost every sector will need new kinds of workers: those who can build hardware, software and firmware; those who can design automation and robotics; and those who can adapt and maintain new equipment. 
 
What’s trending?
 
According to the World Robotics Report 2016, the annual sales of robots are set to touch an average of 13% from 2017 to 2019, in the world markets. This development will actually put humans and robots on an ‘at-par’ level enabling them to work side by side, while production efficiency and quality.
 
The major predictions in robotic trends are set to present opportunities and challenges to IT leaders in the coming years. In the coming years, the world will see a revolutionary set up in manufacturing along with innovative use of robots in various applications, not only in manufacturing but for other tasks as well which include:
 
  • ‘Robot as a Service’ business model, reducing costs for robot deployment
  • Leading organisations implementing a chief robotics officer role and define a robotics-specific function within the business
  • All new robotic deployments will be smart collaborative robots that operate three times faster and are safe for work around humans
  • By 2018, 45% of the 200 leading global ecommerce and omni-channel commerce companies will deploy robotics systems in their order fulfillment warehousing and delivery operations
  • By 2019, the government will begin implementing robotics-specific regulations to preserve jobs and to address concerns of security, safety and privacy. Leading organisations in logistics, health, utilities and resources will explore the use of robots to automate operations
  • By 2020, 40% of commercial robots will become connected to a mesh of shared intelligence, resulting in a 200% improvement in overall robotic operational efficiency
  • By 2020, companies will have a greater choice of vendors as new players enter the $ 80-billion information and communication technology market to support robotics deployment. Robotics growth will accelerate the talent race, leaving 35% of robotics-related jobs vacant while the average salary increases by at least 60%
  • By 2020, 60% of robots will depend on cloud-based software to define new skills, cognitive capabilities and application programs, leading to the formation of a robotics cloud marketplace
 
It is necessary to assess the Industry 4.0 readiness of industrial enterprises as manufacturing sector is currently facing substantial challenges. These challenges are in regard to disruptive concepts such as the IoT, cyber physical systems or cloud-based manufacturing. 
 
Subsequently, increasing complexity on all firm levels creates uncertainty about respective organisational and technological capabilities and adequate strategies to develop them.
 
A shift to smart manufacturing will save the multinationals money and translate into greater profits, more jobs and healthier economies. As machines move into a more complex age, so do our workers and products, symbiotically ushering in a new era of production.
 
The current macro-economic scenario is deeply different and businesses must now strategically pursue a series of changes, both from an organisational productivity point of view as well as from a technological support point of view. The game is now played on the basis of agility, responsiveness and innovation, with the fundamental support of technology and people skills. Workers who are prepared and informed will be at the center of the businesses of the future. They will provide the level of flexibility needed to meet the increasing demand for customised products.
 
SMEs: The backbone of Indian economy
 
According to IBEF, the Government of India has set an ambitious target of increasing the contribution of manufacturing output to 25% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025, from 16% currently. 
 
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) may be gunning for the global markets. The reality of getting their systems in place before making this quantum leap is posing its own set of challenges and for these businesses to make the leap to international markets, digitisation via information technology is the business need of the hour. The growing importance of SMEs, which account for about one-sixth of India’s total GDP, is manifesting itself in various quarters of the economy. The Government is trying to push it forward with a number of plans to foster technology, innovation and quality in SMEs.
 
Indian SMEs are increasingly organising themselves in clusters, which improve their access to business associations are technical assistance providers. It also helps in building inter-firm cooperation that adds to productivity and innovation. India’s manufacturing SME sector is well equipped to grow, and the fundamental drivers are in the right place. Continued empowerment of SMEs, along with incorporation of automation and managing to keep up with the latest technological advancements, will enable them to attain high and sustainable growth in the long-run.
 
Need a policy for robotics
 
IoT, being one of the most important aspects of Industry 4.0 for India, is expected to capture close to 20% share in global IoT market in the next five years. According to IBEF forecast, the IoT market in India is projected to grow at a CAGR of more than 28% during 2015-2020. Government of India has taken initiatives such as Make in India and Skill India which will be a step ahead to increase manufacturing and employment.
 
While countries across Asia and around the world have national or regional policies for adopting and advancing with robotics, India does not have a unified policy for commercial robotics. Instead, robotics in India is developing through entrepreneurship and startups. There is no specific fund or subsidy for robotics. All of the money invested in robotics is self-funded, angel money, private equity, or venture capital.
 
Pradeep David is the General Manager, Universal Robots, South Asia. Based out of Bangalore, he is one of the strong pillars of the company responsible for setting up & running the operations of Denmark based Universal Robots in South Asia. Prior to joining Universal Robots, Pradeep was with Rockwell Automation Inc  for over 25 years.



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