Even as the disruption caused by the pandemic in the manufacturing and supply chain industries makes companies hold back investment in high technology; leadership teams continue to look for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to address their revenue generation and cost effectiveness concerns.
“A large number of manufacturing companies, and supply chains as a collateral, have had to halt their operations. Many SMEs and large manufacturing plants have halted or postponed any new technology upgrade in their factories in order to recover from the losses caused by the lockdown and economic slowdown,” says Sangram Kadam, Vice President and Head (APAC and META) at Birlasoft.
At the same time, 94% of the 200 chief executives surveyed in India by PwC in August-September 2020, affirmed of either having adapted or planning to adopt AI in their organizations. Talking to industry experts about challenges in adaptation of new technologies in the background of the disruptions caused by pandemic, some issues find common resonance.
Inability or inattention to quantify benefits of adaptation of new technologies in terms of ROI, unavailability of applicable data, shortage of talent, disparate incompatible nature of the data available, inadequate storage facilities and slow response time are some of the issues that find common resonance among industry watcher. Extent and pace of digitization in the country, inadequate availability and training of talents, privacy and security concerns and employee resistance to change are some of the other challenges, it is felt.
Robots have come a long way since their introduction in the 60s. But recently, they have found their exclusive space in the warehouses. Warehousing activities comprise of tasks such as inbound, picking, storage, movement and transfer, packing and outbound, etc. These tasks can be broken down into steps like in an assembly line and the concept of division of labor can be applied on the same. With the evolving technologies and emerging capabilities of mobile robots, the idea of human-robot collaboration has picked up the conversation across the globe. Humans can be divided to operate in the assembly line of a warehouse to carry out the above-mentioned tasks by collaborating with their robotic counterparts. In this case, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are a simple, efficient, and cost-effective way to automate all the tasks related to storage and material movement till the dispatch of items from the warehouse where previously manual operators were required to push carts around the facility.
Some very apt application of mobile robots which has contributed to marking its own place in the warehouse are mentioned below:
Picking: AMRs are incredibly versatile. Not only can they speed up the picking process by handling the tedious task of moving products around, but some collaborative robots can guide operators through tasks by navigating to inventory locations, displaying the items and quantities to pick, directing workflows and keeping associates on task to improve the accuracy and efficiency of order fulfilment operations. AMRs can determine and follow optimised picking routes and are particularly valuable in facilitating zone and pick-and-pass picking methodologies.
We have witnessed a phase-wise and more calibrated lockdown in the second wave compared to the sudden lockdown in the first wave. More than the lockdown, the economy will be hit by the spread of the virus as people have been affected as Covid has spread to rural parts of the country as well. As the cases are receding now and we are seeing positivity rate falling below 5 percent, the lockdowns must be lifted in a phase-wise manner to ensure the number of infections do not rise again. We might see some casualties in businesses which have stressed balance sheets. But we see a very strong revival from Q-2 in the economy. With a good chunk of population in the West being vaccinated, their economy is opening which will fuel the export-oriented sectors and the pent-up demand will drive up consumption in the domestic sector.
The automation market is projected to reach a valuation of $253 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 8% during the forecast period (2021-2026), as per the Global Industrial Automation Market Outlook report.
Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Sangeet Kumar, Co-founder & CEO, Addverb Technologies, to understand the ins and outs of intelligent automation and how the company is supporting its customers in implementing automated workflows.
“Our products are enabled with advanced technologies such as AI, ML and deep learning, thus giving us an edge in comparison to the existing products and players in the market,” said Kumar.
AIM: What is industrial automation? Why is it important?
Sangeet Kumar: Industrial automation uses intelligent machines in operations so that the processes can be carried out with minimal human intervention. It can be achieved through several means, including mechanical, electronic, robotics, AI, ML, deep learning for leaner operation processes that require less energy, less material, and reduced labour waste. In the current era, technological advances have overcome many of the traditional limitations of robotics and automation. A new generation of flexible and versatile robots cost far less than those used in manufacturing environments today. It can be trained by frontline staff to perform tasks previously thought to be too difficult for machines— picking and packing irregularly spaced objects, resolving wiring conflicts in large-scale projects can be taken care of with the help of industrial automation.
Manual work is getting replaced by smart robots. Demand for precise production without compromising on quality, increasing need for digital transformation across sectors – healthcare, transportation, retail and favourable government policies in the manufacturing sector are driving the industrial automation market. As the potential of IoT and interconnectivity is realised, the industry is expected to grow at a fast rate in the future.
There have been some key triggers in the last five years which have changed India’s supply chain and manufacturing sector. The rise and popularity of ecommerce in the country after internet data revolution, the growth of organised retail in major towns and cities, the implementation of GST which led to the consolidation of small warehouses, have all contributed.
These warehouses being the last touch point before the product reaches the customers, play a crucial role in the entire value chain of the business. So, companies must plan their inbound, outbound, storage and picking activities in their distribution centers (DC) to stay nimble yet capable to respond to black swan events such as corona virus.
For many industries, this was a transformative year. In a sink or swim situation, the entrepreneurial spirit truly came through – with many small, medium and big industries finding their own way to pivot and carve a niche.
Healthtech, edtech, fintech, OTT, and foodtech are some of the core sectors to grow at an accelerated pace in the digital startup ecosystem. Whereas travel, tourism, hospitality and related sectors took a direct hit from the chaos that was unleashed globally.
Changes aside, what we did notice was a 360-degree shift in the way entrepreneurs perceived success. From achieving greater maturity and better business models, Indian startups also streamlined revenues and innovations, and as they continue to deal with challenges, Indian startups are playing the role of a catalyst in reviving the country’s economy.
Addverb Technologies inaugurated its Bot-Valley, a robot manufacturing facility in Noida. Spread over 2.5 acres of land, this new manufacturing unit is equipped with the best-in-class electronics and mechanical machines and has a capacity to manufacture more than 50,000 Robots of varied types in a year. This one-in-a-kind manufacturing hub will employ 450 workforce and provide equality and empowerment to both men and women.
Addverb claims it intends to create a self-sustaining ecosystem for the robotics industry in India that can also export innovative products & disruptive technology solutions to the world. Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog facilitated the event as a chief guest and inaugurated Bot-Valley.
Homegrown robotics company Addverb Technologies has inaugurated its Rs 75 crore robots manufacturing facility in Noida (Delhi NCR).
Called the ‘Bot-Valley’, the new manufacturing unit is spread over 2.5 acres of land and can manufacture over 50,000 robots of various types each year, claims the company.
The 5-year old Noida-based firm aims to make India the capital of global robotics in the World-a place where ‘robots build robots’. Led by a vision to ‘pioneer human-robot collaboration.
Global robotics and automation company Addverb, known as a pioneer in implementing state-of-the-art robotic and automation solutions across factories and warehouses. Addverb provides end to end automation solutions using a unique approach of 4D’s (discovery, design, develop and dedicate), i.e., discovering the right automation for a customer’s problem, designing the solution to manufacturing the product and project execution and dedicated after-sales support. During Covid pandemic, they invented a new Micro-Fulfillment Centers specifically dedicated for the e-grocery segment. While talking with Nitisha from Bisinfotech, Sangeet Kumar, CEO & Co-Founder, Addverb Technologies talks about its latest launch and upcoming inventions.
While Covid has proved disastrous for many industries like tourism & “HORECA” due to the outbreak and resulting lockdown, it has also unlocked some new avenues of growth in other sectors especially e-commerce, grocery, f&b, pharma & FMCG industries. Covid has changed the nature of demand and has also changed the way supply chain was handled. It has tested the resilience of the industries and also questioned dependence on contract workforce for critical operations, especially in Warehouses & Distribution Centre. When Moore observed the fact that the number of transistors in an IC doubles approximately after every two years, it was believed to be the basic principle for the survival of any technology. Here we have a look at the tech trends that will disrupt the Industrial automation sector in 2021