“Humans and robots need to work together for productive future”
The demand for industrial robots in India has accelerated since 2010 considerably, due to the ongoing trend toward automation and continued innovative technical improvements in industrial robots.
The demand for industrial robots in India has accelerated since 2010 considerably, due to the ongoing trend toward automation and continued innovative technical improvements in industrial robots. Even small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are keen to invest in automation and robots. According to Neelesh Chipade, Senior Product Manager – Robotics, Factory Automation & Industrial Division (FAID), Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt Ltd, the market is expanding into new territories with small and medium-sized industries adopting automation, thereby creating demand for robots. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, he highlights the market dynamics of automation in the country and the future of collaborative robots (cobots).
How is the market for automation and robotics in India? What is driving this market?
The robotics market is expected to register a CAGR of 25 per cent over a period of 2019-2024. The need to increase productivity, reduce downtime in industrial facilities and manufacturing activities worldwide are the major factors expected to drive the market for automation globally. The development of advanced cost-effective robotics and increasing demand for industrial robots in different industrial verticals are some of the opportunities impacting the growth of the robotics and automation market.
What are the key challenges faced by Indian companies who want to adopt automation and robotics? How is your company helping them to overcome these challenges?
In the past decade, industrial robots used to be priced high, which used to delay in the time of return on investment (ROI). Mitsubishi Electric has the capability to provide precise plant automation solutions that are tailor-made, with justified costs. By utilising wide range of software function, interface & components of robots, we will realise automation with minimum peripherals. Customer can select the best robot for their layout from an abundant lineup of robots.
Are SMEs also investing in automation and robots? Are you supplying solutions for SMEs in automation and robots’ space?
The demand for industrial robots has accelerated since 2010 considerably, due to the ongoing trend toward automation and continued innovative technical improvements in industrial robots. The market is further expanding into new territories, with small and medium-sized industries adopting automation, thereby creating demand for robots. The availability of small-capacity and cost-effective solutions from Mitsubishi Electric is enabling the penetration of robots into industries. We support our customers to implement the most appropriate automation systems, in partnership with our experienced channel partners.
Job loss due to adoption of automation is viewed a major stumbling block in India (where employment generation rate is falling). How real is this threat?
We all are surrounded with a fear that “robot will replace human”, resulting into wide-spread job losses. AI and robots are the inevitable future and they will play a role in everyone’s future jobs. In order to have a productive future, humans and robots need to work alongside each other. Robots will be required to do jobs that can be automated, and humans will do the jobs that require a personal or creative touch. This has given birth to the idea of collaborative robot (cobot) where human & robot can share a common workspace.
Are you seeing a rise in demand for collaborative robots (cobots) in India? How do you intend to tap the cobots market?
Increasing investments in automation of manufacturing processes is boosting the demand for collaborative robots or cobots, which can work safely alongside humans. As collaborative robots become more capable in tough industrial settings, they will see greater adoption by manufacturers with strict ROI requirements. Mitsubishi Electric is launching its cobot in 5 Kg payload capacity, compliant with the ISO TS15066 and JISB 9711 standards. Our cobots typically have a rounder shape without any pinch points and internalised wires and motors. They also can detect any abnormal force applied to their joints, while in motion. These cobots can be programmed to respond immediately by stopping when they come into any sort of human contact.
What are the emerging trends in automation and robotics?
The most emerging trend is the adoption of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology. Robots will increasingly deploy smart sensors at the edge of production to collect data that was previously inaccessible to manufacturers. This trend is currently underway and will lead to new levels of productivity and efficiency. Mitsubishi Electric proposes the e-F@ctory concept for seamless integration of machines, enabling flexible manufacturing that is tailored to the type of production. This improves productivity and maintainability and can reduce total cost of ownership (TCO).
What are your growth plans?
At Mitsubishi Electric, we continue to evolve with the changing industrial environment and strive to provide cutting-edge solutions to our customers. In keeping with this philosophy, we have concentrated on three key features: “intelligent, integration & safety” for our MELFA-FR Series Industrial Robots. They are capable of handling virtually all your automation needs. We plan to develop more functions in these three areas.
Next-generation intelligent functions make it simple to carry out work that has always defied automation. Safe, collaborative work applications allow robots and people to work together with high levels of safety. Mitsubishi Electric’s e-F@ctory concept helps in integrating factory automation (FA) and IT functions, thus supporting the next generation of smart manufacturing. We offer solutions that use FA technology and IT to reduce total costs in everything - from development, through to production and maintenance, supporting customers to continuously improve their business operations and achieve truly cutting-edge manufacturing.