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Advanced Collaboration Between People and Machines

As industries continue to grow and mature, companies are increasingly turning to industrial automation to boost productivity in the workplace and address the difficulties they face. A lot of companies have discovered that human-machine collaboration and industrial automation solutions can effectively translate labour-intensive, repetitive and hazardous tasks, keeping human workers fresh and healthy, while also speeding up time it requires to complete those tasks.

Industry 4.0 continues to be in the nascent stage when we go ahead and take industries in India into consideration, however, the acceptability of automation solutions keeps growing nearly every day. People in India also realise the value addition these industrial automation solutions provider to their operations. From pick and put to surgical inspection of the product quality, Industrial automation has been welcomed by the industry with open arms, and when these solutions are coupled with artificial intelligence and machine learning software, the potential of automation grows manifolds.

What follows ahead is an extremely insightful conversation with Sameer Gandhi, MD, Omron Automation, and India. Sameer was well quipped in successfully portraying a discernible landscape of commercial automation scenarios on the planet and India, its key drivers and Omron's most advanced technology offering regarding exactly the same. Excerpts:

with Sameer Gandhi, MD, Omron Automation, India

ELE Times: Please tell our readers concerning the new technologies and solutions that the company has displayed recently at the Automation Expo 2022.

Trying a different method of showcase our strong intent to address the real challenges & problems with manufacturers around the shop floor, this time we displayed more solutions instead of products at our booth in the Automation Expo.

It ranged from Pick-n-place robotic solutions displaying the dexterity of picking up small components – a very relevant offering for that digital industry- to Predictive Maintenance solutions which help to lessen unscheduled downtime. The predictive maintenance solutions aim to answer one of the biggest challenges in the industry the availability of skilled and experienced labour for predictive maintenance.

We also showcased our Cobots solutions for palettizing capabilities and also highlighted its uniqueness to operate together with humans safely without the need for fencing or an enclosure.

Traceability was another solution, displayed by us in the booth. This underlined the utility of OMRON laser markers to mark bar codes or text on components, Omron verifiers to read and verify the code on components, as well as the Flying Trigger technology that allows bar code reading quickly without needing to stop the component and finally the NX PLCs for sending the data to the cloud for post-despatch verification and records.

ELE Times: What is the significant difference between utilizing a cobot along with a traditional robot for end-of-line packaging or palletizing? If yes, then please elaborate for the readers.

Yes, for tasks like palletizing or end-of-line packaging which usually must be performed on the small footprint and where the layout and workflow are so that a persons operator/worker must relocate that area, preventing the incorporation of a fenced robot, it is ideal to utilize a Cobot. Cobots possess a versatile application and could be used across industries and sizes of operations.

ELE Times: We are now standing in the midst from the fourth industrial revolution and today's factory production lines bristle with automated control systems, software, computer panels and robots. What are your views and reaction to the classic hypothesis of manpower requirement getting snow under Industrial Automation?

The 4th Industrial Automation signifies collaboration and harmony between people and machines to enable manufacturing to attain world-class standards. It's really no longer machines replacing humans but it's about humans and machines cooperating to attain newer, better and much more creative methods for doing things.

OMRON aims to build up new manufacturing that allows people to maximize their potential and experience growth and motivation by looking into making people a number one role while advancing the substitution from individuals to machines. Leaving the heavy labour and straightforward repetitive work to robots, machines support human proficiency and aim to realize a manufacturing site where workers can enjoy their work creatively and revel in manufacturing, and also at the same time frame achieve high productivity by embodying the concept of the \”Advanced collaboration between people and machines.

ELE Times: What are your thought on the amount of industrial automation in India in contrast to all of those other world?

In India, bigger manufacturers in the world of industries like automotive, secondary packaging, FMCG, and consumer electronics make considerable progress in adopting automation nevertheless the path remains a little perplexing for the SMEs. There is a dire requirement for better amounts of flexibility, quality, and consistency amidst challenges like little or no scope of extension or modification of the shop floor space, shortage of skilled manpower and more importantly meagre capital infusion capabilities.

One of the key requisites for expanding the penetration of automation within the country's manufacturing sector would be to strengthen the availability of a partner ecosystem. Most automation requirements are unique and want to become run like a small project. These require some mechanical additions or modifications to the customers' existing setup. While larger organisations might be able to run some of these projects by themselves, most of the MSME sector organizations usually not have the required skills to execute such projects. This is where the function of system integrators (SIs) comes into the picture. They marry the robot/cobot using the required mechanical design and carry it out at customer locations. While India has many such SIs, we need a substantial rise in their number. Although, given the technological set of skills availability and an entrepreneurial mindset, it is just dependent on time before this ecosystem also develops rapidly.

ELE Times: How's OMRON leveraging AI and machine learning to strengthen the Automation services?

OMRON continues to be earnestly attempting to integrate AI and machine learning in the portfolio because we feel the integration is needed to generate the very best of human-machine harmony. Recent years happen to be manifesting many notable things that indicate the transformation the manufacturing world is undergoing. With the concept of glocalization replacing globalization, mass customization is giving method to personalized manufacturing mandates. With climate changes and unprecedented situations like Covid, consumption orientation gets substituted for sustenance orientation. Also post-pandemic, the manufacturers are now pondering over social needs, more than ever, rather than only industry and production-based needs. All this demands the I4.0-based>ELE Times: Please tell our readers about Omron's current and future plans for the packaging automation sector in India.

There has been rapid adoption of more advanced automation within the packaging machinery manufacturing industry in India within the last 2 yrs as interest in efficiency and speed has grown post-Covid. OMRON works very closely with some of India's leading packaging machine manufacturers especially in the vertical form fill seal (VFFS) and horizontal form fill seal (HFFS) segments and will continue to make deeper and wider progress in the segment.

The acceptance of robotics in machine manufacturing has also increased within the last few years. Covid made manufacturers realize that individuals are not really available every time. This gave a lift towards the adoption of movements like zero touch. OMRON has done projects involving high-speed pick and place where complete lines happen to be automated by multiple robots and this would also remain one of our prime focus areas later on too.

Looking in the way forward for the per se, Personally i think there has been a move from making slower machines to faster ones as well as from making simpler machines to more complex machines. This evolution continues to occur in the Indian packaging machine manufacturing space.

Mayank Vashisht | Sub Editor | ELE Times