‘Digitilisation can be done in a phase-wise manner as these solutions are scalable’
Sunil Mehta, General Manager, Automotive Business Development, Factory Automation & Industrial Division, Mitsubishi Electric India Private Limited.
What is Digitalisation and its Industry Perspective?
Digitisation in manufacturing context is connecting all processes to access real-time information from shop-floor. From the overall industry perspective, Digitalisation is bringing transparency and improving productivity and quality in the manufacturing process.
As an Exhibitor in Automation 2019 what you would like to showcase on Digitalisation?
As an exhibitor in Automation 2019, we would like to showcase our e-F@ctory solutions for digitisation of the manufacturing industry. We at Mitsubishi Electric have introduced our e-F@ctory concept way back in the year 2003 and first implemented the same at our manufacturing setup in Japan.
e-F@ctory integrates all the processes, equipment to ERP system and database by using strong and robust Industrial Ethernet Network – CC-Link IE. All our FA (Factory Automation) products like PLCs, VFDs, HMIs, Servo Systems, Robot, etc., support e-F@ctory Solutions. To enhance our e-F@ctory Solutions we have already launched our MELIPC (Mitsubishi Electric Industrial Computer) products and Edgecross Software that now we are planning to bring in for the Indian Manufacturing Sector. These latest products from our mother factory at Nagoya Works Japan will be displayed at Automation 2019 Exhibition.
We are also planning to showcase our upcoming Network Technologies that will be integral part of the Digital Transformation of an enterprise.
Automation is driving the industry today. How automated is the average Indian enterprise?
If we look at medium and small enterprises, in my view, Indian enterprises are not very highly automated. Our automotive industry (four-wheelers and two-wheelers) is automated to a large extent as of now. Many Indian enterprises are investing in automation for future needs of the manufacturing sector to ensure productivity and quality. In the last few years, industries have witnessed increased demand of robots for various manufacturing processes. Automation demand has also increased in Pharmaceutical and F&B verticals as these sectors are witnessing massive grow opportunities.
While automation in some form or other is common in most enterprises, has the process of digitalisation of the entire operation started?
The digitalisation of entire operation has started in some of the organisations. Still, many organisations have adopted a wait-n-watch approach. There are many IT start-ups as well as big IT companies that provide digital solutions for manufacturing industries in India. Their main concern is Return on Investment (RoI) from digitalisation process. Another area of concern is many manufacturing setups have old equipment and old controllers that cannot communicate with the outside world, and in many cases, it is required to update these equipment with new controller and new sensors to fetch the necessary data from individual equipment. The process of digitalisation has started in small pieces and there is lot to come.
When we talk of Digital Transformation, the assumption is the entire organisation is involved. But is this happening in reality?
Yes, in Digital Transformation, the assumption is that the entire organisation should be involved in this journey. I believe that we are still away from such a transformation. Basically, it requires the discipline in every operation of the manufacturing process. It is also important to change the mind-set of people involved from the lowest member in the organisation to the top most member in the organisation. In some organisations Digital Transformation has already started and few organisations today did this very successfully (but I believe we have very few such organisations as of now). Our manufacturing industry has big potential for Digital Transformation and hopefully this will happen soon.
Are the necessary resources available in terms of trained manpower and system integrators?
As an automation products and solutions supplier, yes, there is trained manpower available and also the system integrators are available. This Digitisation Process – we call it as e-F@ctory Implementation – it can be done in a phase-wise manner as these solutions are scalable. Depending upon the budgets, digital transformation can be done in stepwise manner, and for the same, we have good skilled manpower and system integrators. Basically e-F@ctory or Digital Transformation is mainly the integration of IT (Information Technology) with OT (Operational Technology). We already have good resources available in both these areas. It is only a matter of working together for Digital Transformation of organisations. For successful adoption of Digital Transformation many different departments like IT department, Engineering Department, Maintenance Department, Manufacturing Department, and Utilities work together seamlessly to achieve the common goal.
As a vendor, what would be your advice to enterprises going for Digital Transformation?
It is very important to know beforehand that what is the objective, what kind of reports need to generated by the system, visualisation of processes, quality improvement objectives, energy management, how the Supply Chain will be a part of this Digital Transformation? All these points need to be discussed internally involving concerned members with-in the organisation. Once it is done, then further steps like assessment of existing equipment and deciding on the system integrators to implement the system needs to be done. It is also important that based upon business size and future growth plans appropriate vendor needs to be selected.
What are the benefits for the Visitors?
There are lots of benefits for the visitors to Automation Expo. There are many companies participating and displaying their latest products and technologies during this exhibition. It also provides a showcase of the latest technologies and trends under one roof. There are some start-ups in the exhibition which will offer Digital Transformation solutions from IT perspective, it is possible to interact with them and have initial level discussions.