VDMA summit: Facilitating industry to be future-ready

The eighth edition of VDMA Mechanical Engineering Summit discussed a host of pertinent issues such as adoption of Industry 4.0 among Indian SMEs, effect of Industry 4.0 on HR practices, impact of GST, electromobility, etc.
VDMA summit: Facilitating industry to be future-ready
The eighth edition of VDMA Mechanical Engineering Summit discussed a host of pertinent issues such as adoption of Industry 4.0 among Indian SMEs, effect of Industry 4.0 on HR practices, impact of GST, electromobility, etc.
 
The German Engineering Federation (VDMA) hosted its 8th VDMA Mechanical Engineering Summit on September 6, 2019 in Bangalore which was attended by around250 people. 
 
In his welcome from Rajesh Nath, Managing Director, VDMA India, spoke about the year 2019 which was eventful in many ways starting from the domestic side where Narendra Modi government was re-elected with a thumping majority leading to beginning of Modi 2.0 era and on the global side the escalating trade war between the US and China is rippling through the global economy, hurting confidence among US small businesses, crippling trade among industrial giants in Asia and hitting export-oriented factories. “The glooming uncertainty of Brexit followed by the slump in the automotive sector in India in the first two quarters of 2019 has already raised a lot of pertinent questions including where the Indian economy is heading for. But this is the ideal time to consolidate and also to have an optimistic view. The monsoon revival followed by a lot of positive steps taken by the Government of India to boost investment and growth will eventually help India to come out of the current situation,” he said. 
 
Inaugural function 
The Guest of Honour Vinay Kumar Katyal, Director, Bangalore Complex, Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), said, “There is a wrong perception that most public sector undertakings in India were not performing well and incurring losses. Contrary to this perception, Bharat Electronics had a turnover of Rs 11,000 crores in 2018. The fundamental reason for success is the transition from a manufacturing organisation to a technological solution provider.”
 
Margit Hellwig-Böette, Consul General, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bangalore gave a special address on innovation, digital workplace & start-ups. She mentioned that the speed of innovation is slowing down globally because of the trade war between the US and China and there is a lookout for a motivated young workforce and in this regard, India is in a comfortable position. 
Speaking about the challenges to global trade, Ulrich Ackermann, Managing Director of Foreign Trade Division, VDMA Frankfurt, said, “There are seven major challenges to global trade and investment now starting with economic warfare. The world is experiencing increased conflicts, major economic powers are seizing influence, financial sanctions are being used as a weapon, and the Internet is breaking into pieces. Therefore, the international flow of money, information, products and services may slow down.”
 
On occasion of the VDMA summit, BDB India Pvt Ltd released a knowledge paper on “Automotive industry: Impact due to electromobility”. The study came out with very interesting inputs with regard to E-mobility. The prices of battery have almost come down by 70 per cent, rent sharing has started getting preferences, and also the subsidy announced by the Government on EV buying would have a positive impact. According to this report, the public transport, two-wheeler and three-wheeler segment are expected to be quicker in adapting to EV in India.
 
Technical sessions
The first technical session commenced with a presentation on “Macroeconomics trade and digitization” by Suvir Davda, Global Market Corporate Sales, HSBC, India, who mentioned that there is a need to watch out for US-China trade tension, RMB move, domestic slowing down of the economy and resultant impact on capital flows. On the positives, lower oil prices and a possible movement of global supply chains to India could give a push to exports. The next presentation on “Foreign trade benefits and GST update” of Prashanth Bhat (Partner Indirect Tax, Deloitte) highlighted the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures permits the host country to provide export linked subsidies when the gross national income per capita is less than $ 1,000. In his presentation, Debabrata Sinha, Chief Financial officer & VP, Rittal India, shared his experience on anti-profiteering in the engineering industry and mentioned that the anti-profiteering framework under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been extended by another two years.
 
HR strategy partner Maier+Vidorno released a report “Industry 4.0 and its impact on the people practices: Within the HR domain” elucidating the key strategies and roadmaps required by HR to successfully restructure the various departments within the company and to pursue the establishment of end-to-end Industry 4.0 technologies. 
 
The theme of second technical session was “Industrial Automation to Industrial Autonomy”. In his presentation on the “Future on automation”, M R Subramanya, Vice President, Siemens Technology and Services Pvt Ltd, said, “Today’s automation systems have excelled in efficiency as well as in quality and reach the market within months of product development. However, the classical automation systems of today are largely data-driven as well as operated under crystal clear instructions from a human being and hence, lack the flexibility that is required to categorise them as ‘Autonomous’. For an automation system to become self-learning, the existing data-based decision making must evolve into a more flexible inference-based system, where the human interaction is confined to a bare minimum.”
 
This was followed by a presentation by Shankar G Rao (GM & Head) and Anuradha Preet (Strategic Consultant) of Robert Bosch Engineering Pvt Ltd. The presentation gave an overview of the salient role played by the employees and their effective re-skilling in the successful realisation of Industry 4.0 throughout the organisation. In his presentation on “Future business and its challenges in the manufacturing sector”, Dr Eric Maiser, Head of VDMA Competence Centre Future Business, focused on the technologies trending in 2030 and the key activities being carried out by the VDMA Start-up Machine in coaching start-ups that build their businesses with futuristic technologies at the core. 
 
Panel discussion 
The summit also witnessed a panel discussion on “India marching towards a 5 trillion dollar economy: Role of manufacturing” moderated by Rajesh Nath. The participants in the discussion were Vivek Bhatia (Managing Director & CEO, Thyssenkrupp Industries India Pvt Ltd); Rashmikant Joshi (Managing Director, Festo India Pvt Ltd); Guruprasad Mudlapur (Managing Director, Bosch Automotive Electronics India Pvt Ltd); Norbert Koenig (VP - Asia Pacific & Managing Director India, Seco Tools India Pvt Ltd) & Satish Sadasivan (Managing Director, Schunk Intec India Pvt Ltd).  The discussions began with Nath, asking each of the panel members to explain the readiness of Indian SMEs in adopting Industry 4.0, followed by the impact of GST in reforming the business game and the importance of re-skilling as well as the industry-academia interaction. 
 
Awards and recognition
After the panel discussion, the stage was set for the 2nd VDMA Manufacturing Excellence Awards aimed at recognising the VDMA members who have implemented methods either in energy efficiency and conservation or improvement in work conditions and work safety in their manufacturing process. KSB Pumps was the winner of the “Energy Efficient and Conservation” award in the large category, while Vulkan Technologies won the award in the small & medium category. Sartorius Stedim India Pvt Ltd emerged as the winner of the “Work Condition and Work Safety” award in the large category and SMS India was the winner in the small & medium category.
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