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Last updated: 23 Mar, 2021  

Atul.9.Thmb.jpg COVID-19 accelerates need to adopt Industry 4.0: Atul Patil

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SME Times News Bureau | 23 Mar, 2021

In an exclusive interview with SME Times, Atul Patil, Asst. General Manager, Marketing Department, Factory Automation & Industrial Division of Mitsubishi Electric India, said that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has in a way accelerated the need to move from exploring to adopting Industry 4.0 more than ever before.

Excerpts of the interview…

Please tell our readers about Mitsubishi Electric and its presence in India?

Atul Patil: Mitsubishi Electric has a widespread presence in India and is a global leader in electric and electronic equipment for residential, commercial, and industrial use. Mitsubishi Electric has a presence across India with a large distribution channel which is expanding to more cities.

Mitsubishi Electric India has a wide range of products and solutions, which include air conditioners, factory automation, and industrial systems, semiconductors & devices, transportation systems, and visual & imaging.

Mitsubishi Electric’s Factory Automation & Industrial Automation Division offers a vast range of automation products including e-Factory -Smart Manufacturing Solutions, Computerised Numerical Controllers (CNCs), Inverter (drive products), Servo Motion Systems (AC Servos), Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs), Industrial Robots including Collaborative Robots, Power Distribution, Monitoring and Control products, Micro Controllers (Micro PLCs), Modular Programmable Controllers (PLCs) and Graphic Operation Controllers (GOCs).

We would like to know how the Starter Package from Mitsubishi Electric’s “e-F@ctory” is set to boost Smart Manufacturing.

Atul Patil: Mitsubishi Electric’s e-F@ctory utilizes cutting-edge control like the iQ-R platform and high-speed networking technologies like CC-Link IE and CC-Link IE TSN (Time Sensitive Network) to visualize information and coordinate with high-level Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to improve productivity while reducing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). In India, Mitsubishi Electric's e-F@ctory provides Smart Manufacturing Solutions through its more than 20 Alliance Partners. Our “Edgecross” platform offers software development flexibility to the partners, to meet exact customer needs. e-F@ctory Alliance addresses the need for smart manufacturing for industries like Automotive, Pharma, F&B, among many others.

The e-F@ctory starter package includes sample projects with pre-programmed functions of MELSEC iQ-R / iQ-F PLCs and GOT2000 Series HMIs for operational monitoring and preventive maintenance, capable of supporting customers with IIoT, that can be implemented with minimal investment.

How the Factory Automation team of Mitsubishi Electric is contributing towards helping society as a whole? How it can help overcome the current challenges?

Atul Patil: In our fight against COVID-19, Mitsubishi Electric India has also initiated a slew of measures that are specifically made in India which can come in handy during these times. For example, we have designed, developed, and manufactured Graphic Operation Controller (GOC), with built-in graphical display, recipe handling function, customized mylar with built-in “i-Keys”, annunciator with three different conditions, (GOC) can be effectively used to automate a manual ventilator, and control various parameters like air pumped to the lungs along with the option for selecting 10% to 100% pressure operation in the health care industry. Not just that, our Factory Automation team globally wanted to contribute towards helping society to overcome the current challenges during pandemic conditions. Therefore, the factory staff and several groups have come together to create a library of basic programs, function blocks, and servo set-ups as sample programs that can be used or adapted to help make a functioning control system for a “disposable face mask” production machine.

Following the uncompromised safety and unmatched convenience, we have started the operations at the Pune manufacturing facility, while closely adhering to the advisory issued by the Central and State Governments and guided by the sole objective of securing the health and safety of all our stakeholders. We are following safety measures like Safety Training to Factory Staff, Health Monitoring of factory Staff, Online service to minimize customer and staff interaction, and measures for all over factory preparedness.

How is Covid-19 affecting Industry 4.0 and what will be the future of innovation?

Atul Patil: Industry 4.0 is a fascinating subject to work for most of the manufacturers be it small, medium or large. The future of innovation is about Industry 5.0 and we gradually working towards it. COVID-19 has in a way accelerated the need to move from Exploring to Adopting Industry 4.0 more than ever before. While most manufacturers are looking inwards to survive the onslaught of COVID-19, those who have adopted technology in their manufacturing environment are more likely to recover faster than the others. As people consciously quarantine, there is a radical shift towards work from home thereby the need to bring the manufacturing environment and data into their workbenches. This would lead to greater adaption of VR/AR Tools, Remote Monitoring, Data Analytics – to have a real-time view of the business. Such necessity and its adaption will lead to innovation of technologies around it.

What is your view on the current situation of the auto industry in India and its post-COVID prospects?

Atul Patil: Having ensured a swift response to the outbreak and lockdown, Indian automotive companies will need to identify where to act quickly and decisively both in the short term and long term. While short term priority would be to maintain liquidity and efficiency, mid-term priority should be to restore profitable steady operations while in the long-term organizations may fundamentally want to review their strategy and operating model.

In the current COVID scenario, the OEMs and suppliers are now becoming aware of creating differentiated capabilities for the future. At this point of time, we need to leverage more on low valuations to acquire or co-create capabilities in the space of digital advanced tools like automation powered by AI and IIoT, mobility platforms, EVs, and advanced safety systems. In the post COVID stage, it becomes pivotal to address the gradually increasing consumer demands that are powered by the recovering economy. The companies that understand and use this as an opportunity to restructure and rewire, will emerge as winners. Knowing this, even with the current levels of somewhat low capacity utilization, the demand for automation systems is still prevalent.

At Mitsubishi Electric, we are providing smart manufacturing solution and we call it ‘e-f@ctory’ that utilizes cutting-edge Factory Automation products based on its high-speed networking technologies like CC-Link IE and CC-Link IE TSN to visualize information and coordinate with high-level Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), to improve productivity, while reducing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). It enables rapid Digital Transformation of the manufacturing industry by integration of IT & FA/OT systems. For this, all our FA Products like PLCs, HMIs, Inverters, AC Servo Systems, CNC Controllers, Industrial Robots, IPCs, and Low Voltage Switchgear are equipped with advanced technologies for communication. We also have pre-engineered software development packages called ‘iQ-Monozukuri’ which are specifically developed for processes like And-On, Packaging, Handling, Converting, etc. These solutions help to reduce the development and deployment of Industrial Automation Solutions to the Industry and enable faster production, reducing the time to market and increase efficiency.

Lastly, the industrial robot and collaborative robot are also fulfilling the requisites of integrating them with the advanced digital systems that are helping to generate higher productivity and quality.

Please share with our readers the future plans of Mitsubishi Electric Factory Automation in India.

Atul Patil: At Mitsubishi Electric, we continue to evolve with the changing industrial environment and strive to provide cutting-edge solutions to our customers. 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 overall total costs - from development to production and maintenance, supporting customers to continuously improve their business operations and achieve truly cutting-edge manufacturing. Apart from our range of Industrial Robot, we have also recently launched Collaborative Robot – MELFA Assista to support a high standard of safety and increased efficiency.
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