IIoT is one of the driving forces behind Industry 4.0

Schneider Electric automation and control products and solutions cover the breadth of the industrial, infrastructure and building sectors — from programmable relays to motion controllers and interface modules, for applications from simple machines to complex process systems. In an interview with Mr. Meenu Singhal, Vice President, Industry Business, Schneider Electric India shares his views on Industrial automation market growth, trends and Schneider Electric product advancements.

Meenu Singhal Vice President Industry Business Schneider Electric India
Meenu Singhal Vice President Industry Business Schneider Electric India

What are the key products/applications that comes under your Industrial Automation and Control business?

Schneider Electric is a leader in digital transformation of industrial automation markets. The company’s automation and control products and solutions cover the breadth of the industrial, infrastructure and building sectors — from programmable relays to motion controllers and interface modules, for applications from simple machines to complex process systems.

Delivered through our EcoStruxure architecture, our IIoT technologies—including integrated software—are ready for smart manufacturing and can generate new business opportunities for plants and machine builders, increasing profitability and productivity. Our EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor puts real-time information at fingertips, whenever and wherever it is needed. This custom application improves operational efficiency with augmented reality — enabling operators to superimpose the current data and virtual objects onto a cabinet, machine, or plant.

How do you see the market evolving for Industrial Automation technologies?

The industrial automation industry in India is estimated to grow to almost $7 billion by 2030. The market is still evolving and its prospects look good due rise in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and sustained growth of the manufacturing sector. The country is expected to strengthen its manufacturing sector from its current share of 16.57% of the GDP in FY2017 to 25%-30% of the GDP by FY2030.

Which are the new trends you can see in Industrial Automation industry?

In the last few years, technology has transformed the way industries used to work – from a manual form to automatic form. Today, most companies are using automated production technique in order to attain reliability, feasibility, efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, etc. While the concept has been here for a while, there are various trends that are going to come in the Industrial Automation industry:

  1. a) 3D Printing: This technology has the potential to shrink and disrupt existing supply chains and logistics. However, costly equipment and lack of talent are some factors that are restricting businesses to go full throttle with this technology. As and when the volumes grow, adoption in emerging markets will increase significantly over the next 3-5 years.
  2. b) Robotic Process Automation (RPA):RPA is changing the world of operations across multiple industries. It is expected to provide substantial efficiency thereby leading to cost savings. This technology is picking up traction in areas such as finance back-office operations, supply chain management, accounting and customer service in repetitive tasks such as data entry and purchase order issuing among others.
  3. c) Hardware Robotics: Rapid advancement in AI and ML supported by increased computing power has improved the quality of robots, which continues to replace redundant and hazardous work activities once performed by humans.
  4. d) Augmented/ Virtual Reality: AR/VR market in India is still in its infancy but is expected to grow due to positive impetus from the government, industry bodies and investors.These technologies have been touted as a technology that will transform how we interact with the world, but the adoption of this technology has been underwhelming. However, in the coming years, the adoption of AR/VR in industries is expected to grow rapidly, especially across use-cases related to advertising, retail, healthcare and education/ training.

What are the technological advantages of your solutions?

The solutions offered by Schneider Electric are aimed at bridging the gap between IT and OT, allowing customers to maximise the value of their businesses. They have the ability to connect with data and translate it into actionable intelligence and better business decisions. The solutions also help maximise energy efficiency and sustainability through smarter systems and real-time, data-driven decisions. Furthermore, it optimises asset availability and performance through predictive analytics and proactive maintenance.

Explain the role of IIoT in Industrial Automation Advancements and which are your platforms for IIoT?

IIoT is one of the driving forces behind Industry 4.0 as it enables enhanced automation, data collection, and analytics, in addition to optimizing workflows and processes. With the intelligence enabled by IIoT, devices can be programmed to work in harmony. It collects data on the status of the environment and equipment which allows fail-safes and smart technologies.

As a company, Schneider Electric believes there is an urgent need for cyber security measures to protect your equipment from possible threats and attacks. Modicon M580, a programmable logic controller, delivers enhanced capabilities for better performance and availability to help you maximize your total cost of ownership. It has a layer of processors which is highly advanced and offers connectivity capabilities to help react faster to information demands in a safe and cyber secure environment.

The company also offers industrial augmented reality solutions that improves operational efficiency with augmented reality, enabling operators to superimpose the current data and virtual objects onto a cabinet, machine, or plant. Through this, the customers have the advantage to control and know more.

Likewise, Schneider Electric has also partnered with AVEVA to provide industrial software and are the enabler of IIoT platforms for the company. They are helping Schneider Electric gain tech advantage as compared to the competition.

What’s driving your growth in India?

For Schneider Electric, the growth is largely driven from segments such as Water and Wastewater, Mining, Metals and Minerals and Consumer and Pharma. Today, a lot of industries require automation and IIoT platforms. This has given a boost to our business in the country. Also, the government’s push towards smart cities is another growth factor for Schneider Electric in India. With the help of AVEVA, our ability to cater to smart cities has gone up. Furthermore, with the advent of technological disruption, the manufacturing sector, especially OEMS are getting smarter.

Can you highlight your 2019 growth rate and expectations from 2020?

Our growth in 2019 has been robust. We experienced a double digit growth i.e. 1.5-2 times to that of 2018. As a company, Schneider Electric believes in delivering value and quality services to the customers and aim to live up to their expectations through our unique solutions.  We are now focussing on segment wise approach and are diversifying and expanding our reach across varied industries.

While we are not sure about the growth story in Q1 and Q2 of FY2020, we are optimistic that the coming years will see some stability in the market which will be beneficial for our business.

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