Why Is Automation Of Utmost Importance Now?
Technical advancements can only take place if there are immense advancements in the automation and digitisation space. Continental employs cobots developed by Universal Robots in various power plants across the globe, from Spain to India
Continental ‘s main objective is the improvement of productivity and transition to a “smarter factory”, and the possibilities that cobots offer are immense. The main reason for the shift to cobots instead of human workers is the lesser chance of faults and errors to happen, a typical human trait that can happen at any time.
In an e-interaction with Gairika Mitra, Sirisha – Head Industrial Engineering, New Product Launch, Bangalore Plant, Continental Automotive India shares some valuable insights.
What do you think is the estimated market size of RPA in India?
Just like for most of the technologies, India is considered a favorite destination for the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) market growth in the near future. According to HfS Research, the global market for RPA Software and Services is expected to grow to $1.2 billion by 2021, and in India, the RPA market is driven by the increasing demand for automated accounting and process management. In India, the RPA market is estimated to grow over a CAGR of above 20.0 percent during the forecast period 2019-2025.
If we speak particularly about the automotive industry, the advent of RPA has always been a key milestone. RPA allows manufacturers to streamline operations and reduce the complexities of managerial processes, thus creating a more agile system. In India, most, if not all, automakers are using RPA in some form or the other. The influence of RPA tends to increase even more in the near future, as more companies look at automation across processes as they resume operations post lockdown.
What is the exclusiveness of Continental, that’s unique from other players in the market?
As a technology company, we have always believed in the power of automated services – be it in the products we manufacture or in-house processes. We are implementing several Industry 4.0 practices at our plants, which includes a certain amount of automation across various levels. For instance, at our plant in Bangalore, Continental has implemented robotic arms to undertake repetitive mechanical tasks, Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) for material movement on the shop floors, and Cobots.
Our plants in India and across the globe deploy Cobots that can perform tasks that tend to be monotonous and repetitive for human workers. Our Cobots complete tasks like the handling and validating printed circuit boards etc without compromising on precision and accuracy. Workers are free to focus on skilled tasks that can contribute to an increase in productivity.
What is the latest mode of technology Continental is abiding by?
We are integrating machine learning in intricate processes like Automated Optical Inspection – Magic AOI, which has a huge impact on quality and time. Another area of significant impact at the production facility is scalable and flexible architecture for MES (Manufacturing Execution System), which enables to scale up or scale down based on demand allowing the hardware resources redistribution dynamically as per need.
How important do you think it is for people to rely on technology? Are there any major follies per se?
Technology is a boon when used in the right manner. It can be and should be used to make our lives easier and safer. Today, various technologies are being deployed across sectors – and all these have the capacity to enrich human lives, make us more environment-friendly, and also help improve safety levels. We need to use technology and all that it offers responsibly and ethically.
What are your immediate and long term milestones like?
We, at Continental, focus on a future that is safe and sustainable. All our R&D in terms of product development is focused on achieving this. Any policies that we adopt are also focused on the same. Compared to the earlier development methodology, now the design is first evaluated not only for a design for lean manufacturing aspects but also for feasibility analysis for the handling of the products by cobots. With this, we are upscaling both the product design and the manufacturing setup simultaneously with the robotic automation. Presently we are focusing on AGV, Cobots, and digitization. In the short term, we are working towards paperless shop floor, for example, digitized Standard operating instructions, change management monitoring, production planning, an expert system for debugging support, etc. In the near future, the production facility will use augmented reality solutions for the complete shop floor. In the long term, we plan to deploy AGV fleet management, which coordinates the multiple AGV’s with standard protocols within the shop floor, etc.
Lastly, any word of advice for the wannapreneurs who want to make their career in Robotics?
Robotics and automation are the new normal, which is not limited to the automotive industry but also helpful to society in a big way in the field of health care etc. Indeed, a career in this field will be promising and will make way for a lot of opportunities.
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