Monday, April 22, 2024

Careers in Automation Offer You A Level Playing Field

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If you are straight out of college having completed your engineering, and desirous of beginning your working career in fields other than programming and software development, then career experts believe that Automation should be the right choice considering its scope and the offered growth.  A big advantage that Automation offers is the fact that the domain is multi-disciplinary.

Both technical experts and their career counterparts now believe that machines have started turning intelligent. This statement stands vindicated when we consider the penetration of smart technology such as Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Neural Networks, and even the Internet of Things (IoT). There has also been a boom in the research associated with making machines intelligent, this sector is now creating jobs that has started to attract engineers from across India.

In fact, even the biggies viz. Intel, IBM, Flipkart, Microsoft have seemingly realised the potential of Automation in Machine Learning; these companies have also begun an investment trend with respect to Automation.

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The Make in India buzz seems custom made for Automation Research

With the Government of India having announced the ‘Make in India’ initiative as an ambitious one, career experts believe that this is the right time for fresh engineers to take the plunge.

“When you take the case of the manufacturing sector, the first thing that the industry requires is Automation. This is required in sensing, variable monitoring & control. Automation off-loads manual work and makes life easier for workers to manage things & processes,” states Ajay Godara, director at Chandigarh-based Enovation Lab LLP that does its bit in empowering the youth of today through training and innovation.

Ajay believes that with Make in India now gathering more steam than before, careers in Automation would make complete sense considering its potential societal impact.

“ For engineers preferring to work in factories, automation would be applicable to multiple critical aspects such as system engineering in tandem with process automation. This, in turn, results in factory automation,” adds Ajay.

Here, it is worth remembering that the demand for ‘factory automation’ is almost evergreen, as this is a common requirement for industries starting from, the small & medium enterprises (SMEs), to the large-scale manufacturers. Therefore, automation engineers would potentially face constant demand throughout the year.

“Industry 4.0 is definitely exciting. The key component here is automation and smart concepts. Remember that Industry 3.0 talked about automation and a robotics at a basic level. Now, Industry 4.0 promises an advanced level of automation,” states Gaur Dattatreya who is vice-president and head of business unit at Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions, Bengaluru.

Gaur’s statement adds substance to current trends in which startups focussing on enhanced automation have sprung up in cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad including a host of other regions. Gauging these trends, it is only imminent there would be smartness in our lives through automation.

Automation is both multi-disciplinary as well as inter-disciplinary

As stated above, the multi-disciplinary nature of automation is definitely a plus for fresh engineers (across branches) to begin research. Experts believe that qualified and skilled fresh engineering graduates from across sectors would find it easy to adapt to automation albeit with the right training.

“Instrumentation engineers have an edge here,” states Ajay Godara. Skill-sets like Distributed Control System (DCS), Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) along with virtual instrumentation would offer that extra edge to Instrumentation engineering graduates.

In tandem with this, we have also covered scope for instrumentation engineering as a whole topic; click here to check out now.

“Automation has penetrated even unconventional sectors such as fire detection & monitoring, lighting, energy management, and even entertainment. These sectors have also witnessed the rise of several companies such as Rockwell Automation, Siemens, and Schneider; which are now world leaders,” stated a product manager at a reputed Maharashtra-based Instrumentation firm.

Going into the specifics of this inter-disciplinary field, automation offers you good exposure in terms of both hardware and software along with a hold in electronics, electrical, and control domains. Once properly mastered, these skills should make you a ‘master of more than one trade’ along with obviously being the ‘jack of all’.

Scope beyond Instrumentation

By its virtue of being multi-disciplinary, automation offers opportunities to take part in research work across varied sectors, according to experts having taken up careers in automation. “Some of the multi-disciplinary areas are Aerospace, Biomedicine, and even Nuclear research,” adds Ajay.

These sectors require fresh engineers to work as control and automation engineers to offer thought leadership with respect to product development and control.

At this instant, it is vital for you to understand that automation also has wide societal impact with its applications. Instances here include automation of traffic signals to automatically create green corridors for ambulances to pass through from one city to another. Another societal instance is the healthcare scenario in which automation can potentially be used in tandem with technology like AI and ML to off-load burden on doctors and thereby make them more available to the needy.

Healthcare in India is one sector that has rapidly taken to automation to create robots to assist during surgeries.

“If applied properly, automation would solve most of the existing societal issues at the physical level,” states Dr Krishna Bhat, a professor at a reputed engineering college in Karnataka.

Therefore, working as automation engineers would enable you to make an impact, and thereby a difference, to society.

Employment prospects, career growth as an Automation Engineer

At this instant in time, career experts debunk a popular myth associated with automation “Making machines smart would lead to job losses for humans.” However, one aspect worth understanding is that automation would lead to creation of jobs that are a notch above than the ones that are lost to machines. The latter category would require advanced skillsets, thereby leading to overall enrichment of life and quality living.

With myths debunked, let us look at certain sectors that employ automation engineers:

  • You could choose to work with companies that develop and deliver automation software, along with equipment to external industries.
  • You could work exactly with big industries involved in domains like oil & gas, and automotives. These require the bets automation products and services.
  • Opportunities also exist with companies offering consultancy to clients who look at integrating products with their manufacturing processes via smart technology.

As far as career growth is concerned, automation engineers would typically start out as electro-mechanical technicians, or even plain automation engineer.

“The field is expected to grow – as rapidly as by 14% percent over the next five years,” believes Ajay. With rising opportunities, designations would naturally be fancier. These include Engineers, Process Experts, Technicians, and go on up to Managers.

Do remember that experience level is a big influencer as far as pay packages are concerned.

Skill Sets and pay packages

Experts’ advise for automation engineers is to acquire skillsets such as Distributed Control Systems, Engineering Design, Embedded Systems, mastery in programmable logic controllers (PLCs), protocols, signal types and levels, and application programming or product solutions on PCs. and more. These are to be used in tandem with problem-solving skills, effective design, and deployment skillsets to create automation solutions.

“An instrumentation engineer can expect sub Rs 4L per annum packages. Pay packages in automation are directly proportional to skillsets,” adds Ajay.

Another surprising trend indicated by experts is the scenario wherein automation professionals with more than a decade of experience starting their own startup ventures to solve real-world problems through smart technology.

“I have witnessed professionals move on from high-paying jobs to establishing startups that are now fledging. This is a recent trend,” states a chief-executive officer at a Bengaluru-based innovation startup that provides automated solutions to factories.

All in all, Automation offers a level playing field

With everything being said and done, automation still creates a ‘level-ambience’ and is a an example of survival of the fittest theory. Once you are a proper fit in the industry, you can expect enrichment of life that is in equal measure with that of your industry counterparts.

“Automation is skill enhancement and application. So, once you begin solving problems, you are in line and can expect the best just like the rest,” signs-off Dr Krishna Bhat.

Experts Consulted:

Ajay Godara Director at Chandigarh-based Enovation Lab LLP
Gaur Dattatreya Vice-President and Head of Business unit at Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions, Bengaluru
Annonymous Project Manager at a Maharashtra-based Instrumentation company
Bengaluru-based automation engineers

Written by Rahul R, Senior Technical Journalist at EFY

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi,I am six year experienced senior service engineer,I know more about machinery’s ,function,programming,update process,installation,commissioning, If i will join automation training is useful for my career growth.

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