Real-time information to boost productivity. Real-time access to information is an essential feature of industrial automation systems as these are meant to execute control commands to the process. Recent developments in the area of ‘real-time’ production control have been captured in the shape of manufacturing execution systems. This is a great management tool in the hands of operational personnel.
Robots. Lighter and smarter robots are dominant in fast-moving consumer goods assembly and specialised packaging. Within the core manufacturing such as automotive, the trend of heavy duty robots is seen, with designs for payloads lower than 100 kg. These require about 25 per cent less space, while being consistently more robust and having significantly lower maintenance requirements.
There are bound to be implications of the global turmoil in India as well but on a mid-term and long-term horizon, things do look good. After all, we are a big country with a lot of potential for automation for want of improvement in quality, manufacturing time or safety. So it is quite encouraging to work in this segment. The concept of a no-man factory is far-fetched; there could be work cells or process zones that are well automated and unmanned, but even these would need human surveillance or intervention for maintenance as mechanical parts are prone to long-term wear.
The author is an executive editor at EFY