Om­ron to sup­port au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try tran­si­tion to ‘Smart Man­u­fac­tur­ing’

Auto components India - - COVER STORY - Story by: Ashish Bha­tia

Head­quar­tered in Ky­oto, Ja­pan, Om­ron Cor­po­ra­tion is a global leader in ad­vanced au­to­ma­tion, sens­ing and con­trol tech­nol­ogy. Since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1933 as Tateisi Elec­tric Man­u­fac­tur­ing Co., the com­pany is known to of­fer in­no­va­tive solutions and ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies in the realm of au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing, in­dus­trial en­ergy and health­care among other seg­ments.

Hav­ing started op­er­a­tions in In­dia in 1980, Om­ron Au­to­ma­tion, through its port­fo­lio of sens­ing and con­trol tech­nolo­gies, wants to play a key role in In­dia’s tran­si­tion to ‘Smart Man­u­fac­tur­ing’, es­pe­cially in leapfrog­ging the learn­ing curve to re­main com­pet­i­tive in the au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor. Serv­ing a di­verse spec­trum of clients, from brake man­u­fac­tur­ers, to en­gine man­u­fac­tur­ers and HVAC so­lu­tion providers, the com­pany re­cently in­vited the me­dia to reaf­firm its ca­pa­bil­ity, of mak­ing In­dian au­to­mo­tive fac­to­ries smarter by ex­hibit­ing key ‘In­put Logic Out­put Ro­bot­ics plus Safety (ILOR + S)’ port­fo­lio at its Au­to­ma­tion Cen­tre, in Mum­bai.

With a wide port­fo­lio of smart sen­sors, ro­bots, vi­sion, ma­chine safety, PLCs, Ser­vos and driveau­toma­tion solutions, Sameer Gandhi, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Om­ron Au­to­ma­tion, In­dia, em­pha­sised on the com­pany’s com­mit­ment to­wards en­abling In­dian au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers ‘make world-class in In­dia’, and in-line with In­dus­try 4.0 au­to­ma­tion stan­dards.

“The man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try may fall short of achiev­ing the tar­geted con­tri­bu­tion of 25% to­wards GDP, and that of reach­ing USD 1 tril­lion by 2025, if the au­to­ma­tion in­dus­try does not work in tan­dem to help the ma­chine builders make a con­tin­u­ous tran­si­tion to­wards smart man­u­fac­tur­ing. This am­bi­tious tar­get re­quires them to achieve unprecedented lev­els of pro­duc­tiv­ity, ef­fi­ciency, re­li­a­bil­ity, per­fec­tion, uni­for­mity, flex­i­bil­ity and cus­tom-made solutions match­ing global stan­dards,” he said.

Gandhi stated that match­ing global stan­dards would not be fea­si­ble un­less au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers achieved the most op­ti­mum lev­els of in­dus­trial au­to­ma­tion. It was a pre­req­ui­site for man­u­fac­tur­ers to meet the ex­pec­ta­tions of the de­mand­ing cus­tomers, in terms of de­sign and en­ergy op­ti­mi­sa­tion, finest as­set util­i­sa­tion, worker and ma­chine safety apart from ze­rode­fect pro­duc­tion. “A con­nected shop-floor with con­nected sup­ply chains and con­nected cus­tomers are the needs of the hour,” he said.

3-i con­cept

Draw­ing at­ten­tion to the com­pany’s unique ‘3-i’ con­cept (In­tel­li­gent, In­te­grated, and In­ter­ac­tive) for mak­ing fac­to­ries smarter, Gandhi and team demon­strated

com­mer­cially vi­able solutions, on the com­pany’s ex­ist­ing plat­forms, for find­ing ap­pli­ca­tion across big data, trace­abil­ity, ro­bot­ics, mo­tion­con­trol, qual­ity and in­spec­tion, safety and en­gi­neer­ing.

Part of the 3-i con­cept, the ‘In­tel­li­gent’ as­pect is claimed to make man­u­fac­tur­ing smarter by util­is­ing in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. It is said to cre­ate ad­di­tional value at the shop floor by en­abling man­u­fac­tur­ers to col­lect, vi­su­alise and an­a­lyse data.

In ‘In­te­grated’ tech­nol­ogy, the com­pany gave a demo of seam­less in­te­gra­tion of tech­nolo­gies through ad­vanced con­trol to pur­sue max­imi­sa­tion of ma­chine per­for­mance and ac­cu­racy.

The ‘In­ter­ac­tive’ el­e­ment solutions demon­strated were claimed to help man­u­fac­tur­ers achieve the op­ti­mal lev­els of har­mony be­tween hu­mans and ma­chines. In case of the lat­ter, ma­chines are said to adapt to hu­man needs over time and work in sync to en­hance over­all pro­duc­tiv­ity.

With the In­dus­trial In­ter­net of Things (IIoT)-based solutions, said to cre­ate a seam­less in­ter­face be­tween all ma­chine lay­ers and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, sup­ply chains are claimed to turn trans­par­ent, based on real-time data-based pro­duc­tion man­age­ment. It is said to en­able man­u­fac­tur­ers cope up with chal­lenges like re­duc­ing down­time, de­creas­ing fre­quency of ad hoc fail­ures be­sides al­low­ing for im­proved changeover ef­fi­ciency.

Flex­i­ble ro­bot­ics

Demon­strat­ing a shift from ‘hard­tooled ro­botic cell’ to ‘flex­i­ble in­te­grated cell’, and from ‘hard coded con­ven­tional Au­to­matic Guided Ve­hi­cles (AGV) with limited flex­i­bil­ity’ to ‘flex­i­ble AIV Au­ton­o­mous Nav­i­ga­tion’, Om­ron Au­to­ma­tion, ac­cord­ing to Gandhi, has been mak­ing rapid strides in ro­bot­ics. Ex­perts at the con­fer­ence drew at­ten­tion to the vi­sion-guided ro­bots that are claimed to re­duce de­vel­op­ment time with a less foot­print. Apart from in­spec­tion, the vi­sion-guided ro­bots are also said to be aided in record­ing data and im­ages for anal­y­sis in the fu­ture.

It was the Au­ton­o­mous In­tel­li­gent Ve­hi­cles (AIVs) mo­bile ro­bots that caught every­one’s at­ten­tion at the con­fer­ence. Built to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity in shopfloor and ware­houses, the USP of these ro­bots was their ease of op­er­a­tion which elim­i­nates the need for com­plex assem­bly lan­guage pro­gram­ming. Adding re­li­a­bil­ity, scal­a­bil­ity apart from its light­weight build, the ca­pa­bil­ity to be cus­tomised for var­ied shop-floor lay­outs, for mun­dane, high-pre­ci­sion and haz­ardous tasks, make them an at­trac­tive propo­si­tion for au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers. Equipped with Om­ron’s patented ‘Acu­ity’ tech­nol­ogy, it is the ro­bust self­nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem of the ro­bots that the com­pany is par­tic­u­larly bank­ing on.

Acu­ity equips the ro­bots to op­er­ate seam­lessly and ne­go­ti­ate the con­stant move­ment of peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with shop-floors. It can also ne­go­ti­ate pal­lets, carts, and fork­lifts across the shop-floor. The ro­bots fur­ther have the ca­pa­bil­ity of dock­ing and un­dock­ing the carts in­de­pen­dently with the help of ad­vanced sen­sors fit­ted on to them. More than 100 ro­bots can work at a time col­lab­o­ra­tively, in a sin­gle ware­house lay­out, Gandhi said.

Fo­cus­ing on the solutions busi­ness, in­clud­ing Ro­bot­ics and IIoT, where the com­pany is look­ing to be a one-stop shop for the re­quire­ments of di­verse pro­duc­tion sites and it is sup­port­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing in­no­va­tion world­wide. Bank­ing on its global lead­er­ship and prod­uct port­fo­lio, the com­pany is build­ing its ca­pa­bil­ity by way of ac­qui­si­tions, and by in­creas­ing in­vest­ments pe­ri­od­i­cally. The com­pany last year (2017) com­pleted the ac­qui­si­tion of in­dus­trial code read­ing and ma­chine vi­sion, com­pany, the US-based Mi­croscan Sys­tems, Inc., and Sen­tech Co., Ltd., man­u­fac­turer of in­dus­trial cam­eras.

In In­dia

On a global scale, the com­pany spends close to 6% of its over­all rev­enue an­nu­ally on R&D ac­tiv­i­ties. In In­dia, the com­pany is mak­ing its pres­ence felt across the coun­try with its strong net­work of of­fices, au­to­ma­tion cen­tre, train­ing cen­tre, ap­pli­ca­tion teams and res­i­dent engi­neers along with chan­nel part­ners of Om­ron Au­to­ma­tion. With au­to­ma­tion lev­els known to be at a nascent stage in the coun­try, as a re­sult of be­ing looked upon as a cap­i­tal-in­ten­sive propo­si­tion over de­ploy­ing abun­dant cheap labour in the coun­try, ex­plained Gandhi, that growth is cer­tain al­beit more so in case of com­po­nent sup­pli­ers in­creas­ingly look­ing to up­grade as they com­pete in qual­ity with their global coun­ter­parts.

“We see a higher uptick with com­po­nent sup­pli­ers among other stake­hold­ers of the au­to­mo­tive ecosys­tem given that smart man­u­fac­tur­ing is their best bet to com­pete on qual­ity with their global coun­ter­parts. It is no longer a choice. The big­ger ques­tion is sus­tain­abil­ity over the longterm,” he said. With adop­tion of smart tech­nol­ogy, a clear growth area, the chal­lenge for Om­ron Au­to­ma­tion, is to be able to get the in­dus­try to adopt the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy apart from bridg­ing the gap of skilled man­power that ex­ists to­day.

OM­RON Smart Man­u­fac­tur­ing Solutions at the Au­to­ma­tion Cen­tre.

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