The growth in the Indian economy was seen at 7% for the FY 2016-17 that has grown 2-3% in the past decade. The focus of the government policies have shifted from the primary to the manufacturing sector in the last couple of decades. The growing GDP and population brought India into the limelight and the focus was on how the government would elevate India’s position in the global competitive market, as investors wondered whether the world’s largest democracy was a risk or an opportunity.
The government of India launched the ‘Make in India’ initiative in 2014 to facilitate investment, foster innovation, enhance skill development as well as build a strong manufacturing infrastructure which was seen as an effort to shift the paradigm in order to change the way the government would interact with the industry, in an attempt to refine the Indian economy. The Prime Minister has set an ambitious target for the manufacturing industry to have a contribution of 25% of the GDP and to create 100 million jobs by 2022, and efforts need to be made in order to achieve the same. As of today, the Indian manufacturing industry contributes only a 16 % of the total GDP.
The government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative expects improved production, increased efficiency and productivity and attracts Foreign Direct Investment to the Indian market. To achieve this goal, the heavy industry manufacturers will have to undertake various rapid steps which include embracing new technologies, making industrial automation an indispensible part of the Indian manufacturing industry. The ‘Make in India’ initiative was to boost the economy with increasing the production in India with an expectation of higher quality products.
Industrial automation aims at systematic and continuous mass production of goods which leads to higher output and better productivity in heavy industry manufacturing. The goods produced are of superior quality and in larger quantity, which leads to a greater supply of goods in the market.
Following the ‘Make in India’ initiative, government has also launched ‘Skill India’ programme to increase the labor productivity and ensure the workforce is acquainted with the new and upcoming technological advancements in the IT and automation sector of the manufacturing industry. Automation aims at efficient mass production of goods at a higher quality, which eliminates manual errors but these machines need to be supervised by humans.
Industrial automation, for the longest time was looked upon as operation of heavy machinery that had to be locked in cages, away from the workforce. The new line of light and easy-to-use robots was first introduced by Universal Robots in 2008, known as collaborative robots or cobots. Today Universal Robots have a strong presence in the world market and have recently partnered with 10 Indian distributors. These cobots will be teaming up with the work force in the manufacturing industry to make it more efficient and to increase productivity.
Experts say that the ‘Make in India’ initiative will be a bigger success with the help of cobots as India has great potential in manufacturing and rising to global platform. The Indian manufacturers do have to invest more in industrial automation processes but along with it also need to take care of their workforce. The deployment of these cobots can be a successful venture to the Indian manufacturers as they can be programmed by operators adding tremendous flexibility to meet human problem solving needs and also ensures a safer environment for the employees.
Cobots give manufactures the opportunity to grow in measured steps so they can maintain competitiveness in a global landscape without taking on an undesired undue risk. They can essentially be termed as the ‘third hand’ that helps the workforce in carrying out monotonous tasks.
These cobots were in line with Industrial 4.0 and have managed to fulfill the idea of humans and robots co-existing in a workplace. Thus, the inclusion of collaborative robots in the ‘Make in India’ initiative can be a positive step in the future development of the manufacturing industry and we will see a growth in employment and productivity along with rise in technology, bringing Indian manufacturing sector on a globally competitive platform.
The author is general manager – India & Sri Lanka, Universal Robots