The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is accelerating the push for Industry 4.0 as the manufacturing world reacts and responds to this crisis. By analyzing their advanced manufacturing strategies and taking corrective action now, manufacturers can emerge from this crisis stronger and better prepared to overcome future challenges.
The world has changed—personally and professionally. While the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic is still being measured and assessed, companies are already discovering new opportunities. Manufacturing companies, in particular, are analyzing their supply chains and exploring new means of risk management.
Before the COVID-19 crisis the world was positioning towards a fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. The fourth industrial revolution will embrace breakthroughs in science and technology across diverse fields, including nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, distributed energy management, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, the internet of things, industrial internet of things, health care for the aged, fifth generation wireless (5G), additive manufacturing, and autonomous transportation.
Early in the first quarter of 2020, companies in the smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0 sectors around the world were anticipating another strong year with an accelerating global economy after more than a decade of rapid growth. In January 2020, market research firm MarketsandMarkets forecasted year-over-year accelerating growth for the smart manufacturing market with a total market value of $214.7 billion in 2020 and continued strong growth through 2025, reaching a projected total market value of $384.8 billion and a 12.4 percent CAGR from 2020 to 2025.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the first quarter of 2020, the impact on the global economy was significant, and the smart manufacturing segment felt it with the loss of 1.3 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. during the month of April. As Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America shut down their economies with governmental stay-at-home orders, MarketsandMarkets and other industry research firms began to publish a post-COVID-19 year-over-year forecast with a revised impact to 2020, predicting a negative growth rate with a drop of 16 percent.
While this is less than one-third of the pre-COVID-19 forecast, it still predicts a healthy recovery starting in 2021. Increased demand for smart manufacturing products and services in response to the public health crisis will drive further growth. This will likely spur continued evolution of digital twin technology – digital replicas of potential and actual physical assets, processes, people, places, systems and devices – in maintaining manufacturing operations across the ecosystem and a rapidly expanding role for collaborative robots in the healthcare and manufacturing sectors.
Here we interviewed some of the leading players in Automation industry to know their views on the crisis in the automation industry and growth opportunities.
What is your reaction to the automation industry post-COVID-19?
@Meenu Singhal – There is no doubt that current industrial automation architectures have served us well until now. But closed proprietary technology makes it difficult to deploy advanced technologies swiftly and efficiently. Not applying open industrial automation standards can be costly in multiple ways. Many automation suppliers speak about ‘open’ without fully undertaking its deployment with code and function portability. As a result, industrial organisations waste unnecessary engineering time in rolling out innovative automation technology. The result is reduced agility and lost business opportunities.
@Subrata Karmakar – We have been hearing from our customers that the need to accelerate adoption of robotics and automation is important not only to protect the health of the employees but to enhance business continuity. Businesses are now also increasing their focus on flexibility and simplicity of installation and use of technology.
Many customers also wish to bring production closer to home, with near shoring. We are constantly discussing with our customers on how technologies can help make products and logistics flexible and keep production running in key segments, especially healthcare, pharmaceuticals, logistics and food & beverage.
@Sameer Gandhi – Automation industry has seen a robust recovery post pandemic. This is in line with the overall manufacturing recovery with the added boost provided by the need for social distancing on the shop floor and digital connect with the customers. We believe that this trend is here to stay even when the situation normalizes.
@Masaya Takeda- Mitsubishi Electric has become an integral part of the Indian Automation Industry. COVID-19 and the lockdowns have pushed the industries to think about the strong need for automation. The scarcity of skilled workforce, requirement of social distancing, and the need for unmanned operations have made industries look for automating the production process. Mitsubishi Electric CNC which is part of production automation helps customers to improve production time, product quality and efficiency with its advanced technologies such as Nano control, Optimum Machine Response – Direct Drive (OMR-DD2) control, Super Smooth Surface 4th Generation (SSS 4G) control, High-Speed and High-Accuracy control, etc.
@Abhishek Shukla – Covid-19 has affected manufacturing and automation industry for certain period of time. Due to virus factories were closed and worker went to their home for safety purpose. It caused big decline in Industrial Production and loss of Jobs. After the lockdown period main hurdle for companies to make their manufacturing place safe from COVID-19.Companies start with a limited man power to start the production which increase the necessity advance automation at manufacturing units to increase the production level with reducing the risk of coronavirus.
Actually Covid-19 has forced manufacturer to explore the automation possibilities and reduce the risk of such crises in Future.
What are the new ways you have adopted to overcome this crisis?
@Meenu Singhal – Over the past few years, digitization has influenced nearly every sector. However, with the pandemic as a key trigger, the adoption of digital technologies by businesses and customers has recently accelerated even more.
The answer to address this hurdle is adoption of IEC 61499Global Automation Standards. Its adoption helps alleviate the challenge of interoperability and portability. This standard outlines a high-level design language made for distributed systems. Also, it encourages an open software-component approach to automation applications, making it easy for engineers to pick them up and integrate rapidly.
As the technical foundation of universal automation, IEC 61499 enables automation applications to be built using portable, proven-in-use software components, independent of the underlying automation hardware. Furthermore, it allows users to distribute the application to any system hardware architecture of choice – highly distributed, centralized, or both – all with zero programming effort. Hardware targets can be as small as instruments and actuators, or as large as powerful edge computers. Finally, it supports mainstream software best practices, making it easy to create automation applications that interoperate with IT systems. Such native IT convergence and easy portability will drive a long-term shift from low-value programming of proprietary controllers to high-value plug and produce automation systems using proven-in-use automation software components.
To overcome the crisis, Schneider Electric offers EcoStruxure Automation Expert. This takes an event-driven, decentralized and open approach to automation engineering. EcoStruxure Automation Expert reimagines automation in three keyways: First, the control algorithm is decoupled from the runtime hardware, giving any system unprecedented agility. Combining this revolutionary approach with a network native, event-based, cross-platform runtime means one can rapidly adapt to changing business requirements without incurring significant production downtime or capital cost.
Second, it’s easy to integrate IT applications, tools and technologies for industrial use. This native IT convergence enables one to integrate the incredible advancements in modern information systems seamlessly into control architectures – without incurring significant engineering effort or introducing the technical debt of highly coupled, non-cohesive system designs.
Third, it natively supports asset-centric design methodologies. Applications are created with ready-to-use asset models. This eliminates low-value tasks, making it easy to wrap and reuse portable automation objects for maximum engineering efficiency. That gets one up and running sooner and frees resources to focus on high-value engineering and innovation.
@Subrata Karmakar – Our first response during the pandemic was to help our customers with the best of our abilities. We helped customers quickly repurpose production lines and 3D printing processes to build essential healthcare equipment.
ABB SCARA robots have been used to deliver high-precision performance in COVID-19 testing facilities in Singapore. They have helped in dramatically ramping up the rate of COVID-19 sample testing in order to meet the government’s demand of testing 40,000 samples a day. Apart from the testing targets, ABB SCARA has also helped in avoiding injuries among healthcare staff due to repetitive movements throughout the day.
As part of our support to our customers, we have increased the use of remote service tools and ABB Ability digital solutions. In order to let customers continue production we made sure to provide them with ABB Ability Connected services, RobotStudio and Virtual Technical Support free of charge until the end of 2020, as these services would serve as tools in helping ensure business continuity and bouncing back from the impact, while also helping minimize direct contact on site wherever possible.
@Sameer Gandhi – As employee safety and healthis our top priority, we are making the best use of our robust IT infrastructure to conduct the business virtually. We have brought in changes in the operational processes to ensure continuity of business while ensuring our customers’ convenience and welfare. Strict protocols are also being followed for business meetings and site visits which can’t be held virtually. All this while, our service and engineering team have continued to visit customers to support existing and new installations. Resources are also being spent on learning & development of employees to improve upon our service standards.
@Masaya Takeda- CNC controller being the heart of any CNC metal cutting machine is used in a variety of market segments. We have further reinvented our CNC systems to easily suit various market segments such as Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS), Automotive, Die & Mould, etc. Keeping our prime focus on Drill tap machines and Turning machine, Mitsubishi Electric CNC’s new segment-specific packages helps machine tool builders and end-customers to increase productivity, precision, and efficiency in various manufacturing. Our newly launched packages have now been getting a higher demand and appreciation from the industry.
@Abhishek Shukla – Although Industrial 4.0 is already implemented before Covid-19 but still there are multiple of its segments Like IOT,,AI, Robotics are available which can improve the traditional process of manufacturing.
Now IOT has played very important role here. In IOT, sensor and other devices are used to connect objects of the material, physical world with virtual. It helps to create an autonomous production in which people, machines, plants and products communicate independently with each other. So-called cyber-physical systems make production more flexible and efficient. This makes it possible to implement individual customer wishes at costs that were previously only possible in mass production.
What are the new trends you are looking at?
@Meenu Singhal – The fundamental nature of industrial automation is undergoing a game-changing transformation. Advancements such as machine learning, augmented reality, cyber-physical systems, autonomous assets, real-time analytics and the IIoT promise extraordinary operational achievements.
However, the challenge of integrating third-party components into closed propriety systems limits innovation and obstructs access to best-in-breed technologies. Closed systems are also expensive to upgrade and maintain. As a result, industrial enterprises are accelerating their demand for open, standards-based automation systems that are portable, interoperable and intrinsically cyber secure.
Therefore, the trend towards universal automation will eliminate technology barriers. Unbound by historical constraints, universal automation systems will be driven by asset-centric architectures fuelled by data. Digital-first industrial enterprises and Smart Factories using universal automation will attain step-change increases in efficiency, reliability, productivity and sustainability from safe and secure operations that easily adapt to market changes and customer demands.
There will be other emerging trends playing out in 2021 due to the rise of digital acceleration and automation such as heavy adoption of edge computing, Wi-Fi 6 and 5G in Industry 4.0 manufacturing. Also, we will witness the emergence of a contactless, touch-free world.
Moreover, during the pandemic companies have realised they had limited or no visibility into data centre operations due to the stay-at-home scenario. Accordingly, companies will upgrade their DCIM and ITIMsystems to give adequate levels of visibility. Secondly, companies will design and deploy systems where they can perform maintenance and upgrade functions remotely or via automation. A growing number of maintenance upgrade functions are already being undertaken by robots.
@Subrata Karmakar – Cobots have been seen as a growing trend and we’re expanding our product offering in this space to keep up with our customers’ needs. Robots are becoming easier to install and use, helping remove many entry barriers for businesses. This has provided an inroad for cobots to work with humans without the need for safety fences and perform a multitude of varied tasks. The total number of cobot installations worldwide grew 11 per cent between 2017 and 2019, with 11,107 cobots installed in 2017, growing to 18,049 in 2019 (Source: 2020 World Robotics Report (International Federation of Robotics). We see this growth trend continuing in 2021.
@Sameer Gandhi – One of the key changes brought in by the pandemicis the enhanced desire & need to produce quality products locally- the products that match not only India standards but the world-class standards. We are now making a transition to not only produce for India but also for the whole world.
So in order to realize the goal of making world-class in India, the makers need to come up with an optimum product scoring high on quality, consistency, reliability and hygiene. And this requires them to take a relook at their automation set-up. Other trends which are quite noticeable are they need agility and flexibility in order to deal with varied scenarios introduced by the pandemic like the social distancing on the shop floors, unreliability in the availability of skilled and sufficient manpower, the need to achieve high-mix-low-volume (HMLV) operations and most importantly realignment of global supply chains.
@ Masaya Takeda – Automation and digitization are the buzz words in the industries. Mitsubishi Electric has developed its IoT concepts called e-F@ctory, to drive industries and factories to the 4th generation industrial revolution. Visualization and connected machines are the future of factories. e-F@ctory creates Smart Factories by leveraging advanced digital technologies to achieve digital transformation in the manufacturing environment. Thus, it not only enhances the operational efficiency but also gives a better shop-floor visibility by enabling seamless integration of plant operations with business management systems. It collects, analyses, and diagnoses the data to improve manufacturing in real-time for a better quality. While e-F@ctory is placed as the Next Generation Solution that reduces computing burden with compact AI and enables deployment of artificial intelligence for a higher productivity, it also ensures sustainability by promoting an “Open” Shift to accelerate collaboration and innovation in manufacturing.
@Abhishek Shukla – Industrial automation can and will generate explosive growth with technology related to new inflection points: nanotechnology and nanoscale assembly systems; MEMS and nanotech sensors (tiny, low-power, low-cost sensors) which can measure everything and anything; and the pervasive Internet, machine to machine (M2M) networking.Real-time systems will give way to complex adaptive systems and multi-processing. The future belongs to nanotech, wireless everything, and complex adaptive systems.Major new software applications will be in wireless sensors and distributed peer-to-peer networks – tiny operating systems in wireless sensor nodes, and the software that allows nodes to communicate with each other as a larger complex adaptive system. That is the wave of the future.
@Meenu Singhal – Rushing to replace old equipment with new ones will not be economical for many. We believe that digitalization need not necessarily be in-built in the equipment. Our IoT-enabled EcoStruxure architecture enables the adaptation of existing infrastructure. Retrofitting/augmentation can be a good option to ensure maximum return on investment and will help keep a check on capital expenditure.
Today, we live in a VUCA world. To achieve promised benefits of the next-gen industrial environment, underlying technology infrastructure designs will need to incorporate and support three important attributes: data-driven software-based automation; truly open systems; and integration of energy and automation. Open and collaborative universal automation, based on standards, introduces users to a world of “plug-and-produce” applications (much like the IT app store concept). It enables “à la carte” automation where cost and performance are optimized by assembling components without regard to the vendor. We believe all of these will facilitate the transition to an AI-enabled world.
@Subrata Karmakar – In the long term, the pandemic is a clear catalyst for change in the industry. While the pandemic has not started any new trends of its own, we have seen an acceleration of existing trends such as nearshoring to help improve supply chain resilience. Healthcare is going to be a key segment for robotics with a number of our robots supporting laboratory workers with COVID testing.
@Sameer Gandhi – We believe that the manufacturing in India is likely to grow rapidly in the coming years as well. Accordingly, we’re preparing ourselves for supporting this growth. OMRON’s solutions are valuable in helping the factories turn smarter and connected by helping them cope up with their biggest challenges like reducing downtime, decreasing frequency of sudden failures, improving changeover efficiency and real-time data based predictive maintenance.
@Masaya Takeda – In the area of digitization and automated operations, there is going to be a lot of investments by most of the companies. Keeping a healthy, yet competitive growth in this area, Mitsubishi Electric CNC is coming up with its new features and developments such as Remote Diagnosis and Direct Robot Control.
The ‘Remote Diagnosis – Remote service – iQ Care Remote4U’ is a tool that supports remote servicing of machine tools with our CNCs. The service previously supported our Electrical Discharge Machining (EDMs) and laser processing machines only. The Company is also ready to provide remote support for end-user’s’ machine tools. The Company will also be working closely with machine makers with the implementation of their remote service.
In the ‘Direct Robot Control’, the robot can be controlled via CNC. These are also available to be programmed with ‘G’ codes. In addition, a robot dedicated screen to the CNC screen allows an operation without a teaching box, which only requires an ethernet connection between CNC and the robot controller. Thus, the future of CNC market will be not only looking at the product but also its value addition in its day-to-day operations.
Saison’s offering for Industrial 4.0.
We are developing of product range according to new requirements coming from market. Now many design houses are developing new products under IOT segments to improve the work function of manufacturing site more convenient.
Supercapacitor, could be what ends up powering the Internet of Things (IoT). The devices that make up the IoT will likely depend on some kind of energy-harvesting mechanism that will make the incorporation of small but powerful energy storage devices like supercapacitors a critical element of these devices. Super capacitors have increased the number of applications they are used in as they resolve the limitations in batteries. From being used in the solar tracking application for powering motors to providing power back-up via Diesel generator in Telecom towers. Super capacitors are also in solar inverters to enhance battery life. In smart/energy meters, supercapacitors are used for power back-up in case of outage.
Lithium Ion Batteries, as part of environmental commitment, Fanso Primary batteries use raw material that reduce consumption of fossil energy & pollution. Mainly applied to commercial market, military field, aerospace, GPS and various force stations.
The Internet of Things (IoT) relies on the use of autonomous, wirelessly connected sensors to relay data about changing environmental conditions at often remote, difficult-to-reach locations. As a result, IoT sensor nodes need to be able to provide their own power over many years.
Although IoT sensor nodes may make use of energy harvesting to provide electrical power, the amounts of energy available are small and often unreliable. The sensor node generally needs some way of storing energy temporarily so that it is ready when a reading has to be taken or a message sent wirelessly. One option is to provide a small rechargeable battery or storage capacitor. However, these storage mechanisms have their own drawbacks that can limit their usefulness: rechargeable batteries wear out after a few hundred charge-discharge cycles and need to be replaced, and capacitors will not just change their characteristics over time but will self-discharge rapidly. The self-discharge can be as much as 20 percent per day, causing much of the converted energy to be wasted.
To ensure that power can be supplied over the lifetime of the IoT product, a primary battery may be needed although it could be supplemented by the combination of an energy harvesting and storage subsystem. Through the use of harvesting, it is possible to extend the usable lifetime of the sensor node before its primary battery is exhausted and needs to be replaced or the node itself is disposed.
Sensor , we have wide range of sensors like proximity sensor, motion sensor, Temperature sensor, pressure sensors. In n the industrial automation, sensors play a vital part to make the products intellectual and exceptionally automatic. These permit one to detect, analyze, measure and process a variety of transformations like alteration in position, length, height, exterior and dislocation that occurs in the Industrial manufacture sites.
These sensors also play a pivotal role in predicting and preventing numerous potential proceedings, thus, catering to the requirements of many sensing applications.