The adoption of Industry 4.0 has been comparatively slower in India. But nonetheless, the advancements in electronics, IoT and correlated technologies indicates a soon-to-be mainstream automated factory ecosystem. Hwai Lin Khor, Head of Sales and Business Development for Digital Security Solutions, Infineon Asia-Pacific in interaction with Baishakhi Dutta of the Electronicsforu.com Network speaks about the technical upgrades and corresponding design improvements that the industry is following to embrace Industry 4.0.
Q. Talking about the evolving designs, security, and services, how are you coming up with effective designs to make the solutions much better?
A. Infineon has been in the security domain for more than 30 years. We started with the smartcard industry where we sold our security controller to various applications, such as government, payment, transportation. We have been in this high-security applications for a long time and now we are seeing a lot of Internet of Things applications that also require high security. They are also looking at how to secure their network and devices so as to avoid any attackers.
We saw strong demand for security for various IoT applications, from smart home, smart car to smart factory. So, we used our smartcard industry knowledge and applied that into embedded systems so that it is easy for engineers to build secure IoT devices These devices can be simple devices such as a connected lamp or a more complex system like a router or a car.
Q. How are players like you improving the software and hardware integrations to optimize embedded systems for your users? Any software products for electronics design from your end?
A. We offer solutions that combine hardware with software to enable easy integration and ease of use. Our security solutions are designed to reduce integration effort and support a fast time-to-market.
For example, you will find an open source project on how to integrate our HW-based security products to connect to AWS cloud more secure. You will also find source codes on how to integrate TPM2.0 into Linux operating system. This reduces the effort for the users to design-in our products while at the same time do it in the right way.
Q. What general industrial trend in the surveillance sector is going to rule the market in the coming days? How do you think Infineon’s range of products is going to impact it?
A. Talking about the industrial application, in the Industry 4.0 a lot of automation is happening and so less of human and more of machines are offering auto self-regulating systems. For that kind of systems, you need an intelligent controller to help to process the information. At the same time, the information is being transferred from point to point. So you need the security level to be top-notch.
I see Infineon contributing in many parts from powering a factory with energy efficient solutions, to the motor drives that drive the equipment and robots, sensors that allow machines to be intelligent up to the security part to enable devices to communicate securely with one another.
Q. Do you think ‘Design in India’ is yet at the pinnacle or there are more grounds to be covered? What are the extra doable?
A. Design in India can be for both local and global markets. As mentioned, many MNCs have established their R&D operations in India for a long time. Many local engineers have gained the skills and knowledge to make design decisions locally. If the India team within the MNCs continue to be empowered and gain projects from their global counterparts, there will be increased importance of India in design.
Q. What would be your top suggestions to the design engineers so they can come up with more innovative solutions and improve at their end?
A. First thing is that you don’t take too long to make your solution perfect. Sometimes you would need to quickly prototype and try it out in the market.
Secondly, it is good to work with big companies (like us). We like to encourage startups to come and work with us since we may know some industry knowledge which they do not know of and therefore link them to customers that may need their solutions. We also get to learn from them (startups) about the actual needs of the market. And that can help us in improving our product development.
Thirdly, when working on IoT, you need to design security from the beginning so that you don’t have to re-design. Since you already have your concept ready, this system is going to be out there for many years.
Q. Do you think the R&D system is well developed in India?
A. Most of the MNCs have established their R&D in India in the last 20 years. Most of these people are trained and they know what to do. Local engineers can now come up and set up their own companies, give a solution with their own brain and then you will have a lot more decision making taking place in India and they also have the power to innovate.
Q. How do you think IoT is affecting the ESDM business in general?
A. IoT is a very broad term, in fact, many applications are part of the IoT and more will join in the years to come. So there will be a lot of explorations, and different applications will have different requirements. There will not be a single winner in a sense because each application will have its own champion. Moreover, interoperability is a challenge as every company has its own proprietary standards at this moment. I foresee that this is still a challenge for the whole IoT industry.
Q) Talking about Industry 4.0, do you think India is ready for an unmanned working floor? Where exactly is India and Industry 4.0 balance standing?
A. Even in India, it is possible to have a dark factory. It is so because currently, one doesn’t need to go through all the previous stages. Now, some of the innovative players who have started a new factory with Industry 4.0 capability need expertise from other countries who have implemented it to come and look at the Indian ecosystem. One needs a big manufacturer committed to doing that. For example, let’s say that the manufacturers in India who are very committed to producing say smart TV, want to have a production line that is fully automated and with no manpower. They could already start planning on the implementation of Industry 4.0, by working on the SCADA systems.
It’s not about being not ready but it’s about being a champion who would take help of the expertise outside India. Once that know-how is here, then that can be used to proliferate others.
Q. How do you see the Indian market, especially talking about the demand for your products?
A. Talking about India, we have seen the Make In India move due to which there are a lot of factories that are coming up. This includes not just for manufacturing, but also for R&D for the local market. The R&D taking place in the Indian market is good for Infineon because we can work together with companies, look into product designs, and we can sell our components to them and develop solutions for the Indian market and neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka etc who import Indian technologies.
As the innovation spirit in India is very vibrant, a lot of different startups are coming up and various innovative business models are being tried. It is a very dynamic change. There are a lot of opportunities in this country. There is a big market in India and the potential is huge.
Q. Are you planning to tie up with academia in order to train the engineers or to make them aware of the Industry 4.0?
A. We have a university relation group, including one in our Indian organization, which gets in touch with the professors and the schools to look into their curriculum and decides where we can work with them. The curriculum is more for the training of the future generation.
Together with the university faculty, Infineon co-organizes competitions like Hackathon, and topic-specific workshops with the students, such as e-mobility and security on IoT. Through this process, they learn about embedded system design, security know-how, Industry 4.0 infrastructure and so forth. We are certainly hoping to train a group of people who are skilled in Industry 4.0, security, power drives, robotics – things that we are already working with our customers.