Factory Automation is becoming more and more digital with the advent of smart manufacturing and the fact that India is a preferred manufacturing hub, it becomes imperative to increase competitiveness and build an efficient value chain. Hisahiro Nishimoto, Director, Division Manager-Factory Automation & Industrial Division, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt. Ltd. in an exclusive interaction with Niloy from BIS, underlines the leadership and expertise of MEI in the growing Industry 4.0 and Factory automation segment, their solution and offerings, trends and also harps about the overall market scenario. Edited Nub below.
- What are the offerings of Mitsubishi Electric in the growing Industry 4.0 and factory automation segment?
IIoT or Industry 4.0 is changing the landscape of the manufacturing industry in India. While technologies such as robotics, AI, ML, cloud computing and big data analytics exist in the manufacturing sector, their integration with one another will transform the way we do business. In India, IIoT is still in the early stages, but it is already transforming the manufacturing sector in terms of responsiveness to customer needs, better transparency, agility, and cost savings. At Mitsubishi Electric, we call it e-F@ctory – it enables Digital Transformation of the manufacturing industry. The key to digitalisation is the integration of IT & FA/OT systems. For this, all our FA Products like PLCs, HMIs, Inverters, AC Servo Systems, NC Controllers, Industrial Robots, IPCs and Low Voltage Switchgear are equipped with advanced technologies for communication. e-F@ctory offers greater visibility of the production processes. Factory Automation is becoming more and more digital with the advent of smart manufacturing and the fact that India is a preferred manufacturing hub, it becomes imperative to increase competitiveness and build an efficient value chain.
- SMEs and Start-ups are helming towards automating their processes. How do Mitsubishi Electric’s offerings and solutions simplify their journey?
The market is expanding into new territories with SMEs and start-ups adopting automation, thereby, creating demands for industrial robots. The availability of high-precision and cost-effective Robotic solutions from Mitsubishi Electric is enabling the penetration of robots into industries. We support our customers to implement the most appropriate automation systems, well supported by our experienced Channel Partners.
Most SMEs and start-ups in India have good technical capabilities, however, they need to implement and improve their processes of Design and Quality Measurement. This will help them to expand their horizons and help them explore markets in Asian countries, other than India. Apart from helping them with technological assistance, we also partner with our customers to help build a sustainable solution for issues related to modern industry floors.
- How does better connectivity help manufacturers keep up with their global operations?
Connectivity within the manufacturing process is not new. Yet, recent trends such as the rise of IIoT, and the convergence of the digital and physical worlds including Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT), have made the transformation of the supply chain increasingly possible. Shifting from linear, sequential supply chain operations to an interconnected, open system of supply operations known as the digital supply network, could lay the foundation for how companies compete in the future. The smart factory represents a leap forward from more traditional automation to a fully connected and flexible system, one that can use a constant stream of data from connected operations and production systems to learn and adapt to new demands. A true smart factory can integrate data from system-wide physical, operational, and human assets to drive manufacturing, maintenance, inventory tracking, digitization of operations, and other types of activities across the entire manufacturing network. The result can be a more efficient and agile system, less production downtime, and a greater ability to predict and adjust to changes in the facility or broader network, possibly leading to better positioning in the competitive marketplace.
- Which markets are of your pivotal focus in the Indian market?
Mitsubishi Electric offers a vast range of automation solutions and technologies, using its extensive range of products, including: Controllers, Drives, Industrial Robots, Visualization products like HMIs and SCADA, LVS, CNCs etc. These solutions are capable of catering to sectors like Pharmaceutical, Textile, Water and Wastewater treatment, Automotive Solutions, Food & Beverage etc. All these sectors play a major role in boosting the economy and fulfilling the societal needs. That is why, our e-F@ctory solution is instrumental in empowering smart manufacturing for these sectors through IoT based data utilization. They help achieve greater Productivity, Quality, Sustainability, Safety and Security at the shop floor. We are also helping in data processing, analysis and handling for these shop floors, which results in smarter production management and execution instructions.
- Auto Industry is on the slump, what strains does it put to your business?
All vehicle segments have been reporting de-growth due to weak consumer sentiments and economic slowdown. In addition to this, the global automotive outlook has also turned negative with a decline in sales across geographies and due to the severe conditions developed due to COVID-19. Due to this, factory automation players like us are also witnessing challenging times. However, looking at the flipside; it has now become even more imperative that the automobile industry should use this time to look at innovative ways to eliminate manual errors and use advanced IIoT based technologies such as e-F@ctory to bring greater efficiencies and connectivity at their shop floors. This will enable a quick start when the industry is ready to boot up again and eventually compete and excel in these challenging times.
- Your focus into the growing EV, HEV segment?
Mitsubishi Electric India’s Factory Automation and Industrial Division has solutions catering to the manufacturing industries associated factory floors. We are consistently working towards bringing greater efficiencies to the shop-floors through our smart manufacturing concept – e-F@ctory – it connects and brings transparency in all manufacturing operations, irrespective of the technology used in the vehicle segments. EV/HEV concept caters more towards the automotive/auto component manufacturing companies in the market. Semiconductors & Devices – one of our other Business Divisions, and our Mitsubishi Electric Group company – Mitsubishi Electric Automotive India Pvt. Ltd. are offering solutions for the EV/HEV segment. Solutions like eMotor Drive Systems, CSTBTTM, etc. are helping the Automotive manufacturers reduce their power consumption and ensuring a comfortable space in the car.
- Initial hiccups in this industry and the way forward?
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 believe that advances in Industrial Robotics and Smart Manufacturing solutions like e-F@ctory will drive the factories of tomorrow, which is why we have concentrated on three key features: “Intelligence, Integration & Safety” for our MELFA-FR Series Industrial Robots. They are capable of handling virtually all the automation needs. We plan to develop more functions in these three areas. Also, 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 along with an IT interface, it helps 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.
- Currently, what other industries are open to the upfront investment cost and to adopt new technologies?
Witnessing the current conditions, we think Pharmaceutical is a crucial sector and, in order to handle the demands of emergent challenging situations, it needs to be open to adopting new technologies. We are focusing on the Pharma related segments, where we are partnering through our solutions and technologies. The automation systems can support industries in PPE manufacturing and enables flexible manufacturing to develop and ramp up production of sanitizers and allied products, relevant in today’s tough conditions. Mitsubishi Electric also brings innovative products like Graphic Operation Controller (GOC) which can be useful in India’s quest to quickly develop Ventilators, that are crucial today in our fight against Corona.
9.The post-COVID-2019 epidemic, what transformations you reckon in the whole industrial industry?
The global supply chain is experiencing a level of disruption that has never been seen before. Some manufacturers have ceased production completely, some have seen greatly reduced demand and others have seen a huge increase in demand. Every manufacturer is impacted by this crisis in some way and for many this poses an existential threat. The priorities for most manufacturers today fall into three distinct phases: Phase 1 – Survival; Phase 2 – Recovery; Phase 3 – Business as Usual in the new post-crisis paradigm.
The goal for all manufacturers will be to get to Phase 3 as soon as possible and at the lowest cost. In defining the operating model for Phase 3 they will factor in lessons learned from the crisis and try to build a more resilient and agile business.
It’s too early to say for certain, but it seems clear from events unfolding before us that one of the major weaknesses is a lack of real-time visibility across the business. The visibility is essential to support critical business decisions. e-F@ctory from Mitsubishi Electric can certainly help in improving visibility, connectivity and transparency of the new age enterprises.