Automation industry sees renewed focus from fresh engineering grads

Written by Rachana Khanzode | Mumbai | Updated: Mar 10 2009, 04:39am hrs
With the recession-hit IT services and BPO companies tightening recruitments and pruning staff salaries, there is a new interest generated amongst fresh engineering graduates to join the automation industry, that includes manufacturing technologies including real-time measurement, analysis and control.

Anup Wadhwa, director, Automation Industry Association (AIA), says, The recession has brought a renewed interest amongst the engineering graduates to look at core industry jobs. The automation industry had a huge dearth of trained manpower. The jobs are being created in the manufacturing, consulting and IT sector. According to industry estimates, core professionals deployed in the automation segment were 50,000. The industry is pegged at about Rs 10,000 crore, growing more than 20% last year.

The core industrial segment had faced a setback in terms of getting trained manpower with the large junk of engineers moving to IT services and BPO sector, driven by large pay packages, almost a decade ago. Automation is used in a major way within manufacturing plants, infrastructure facilities for civilians, space and defence and is applicable to automobiles, medical instrumentation, petrochemical plants, refineries, commercial and military jets, robotic manufacturing systems, precision missile systems, chemical plants and life saving drug plants.

Sunil Khanna, president AIA, & managing director, Emerson Process Management, says, We are increasingly seeing inclination from large engineering institutes including the IIT Madras and Kanpur for campus recruitments. Engineering graduates from these colleges have been offered jobs with large IT services companies like Wipro and Infosys, but the engineers now want to look at other options as well. JP Singh, chief executive, electronics sector II, Larsen & Toubro and the last president of AIA, says, The automation industry in India has grown many fold since the 1990s. Moreover, to push the countrys GDP, India needs to have a strong manufacturing base that will come through integration of universities and industry, especially in the chemical, mechanical, instrumentation, electrical, electronics and software engineering areas.

The AIA is, therefore, currently in talks with various universities to bring training to students through various industry initiatives. We are also in talks with a Pune -based engineering institute to set up a center of excellence that will enable training in web based systems, e-learning systems, supplemented by physical training. The association members would put their assets like specialties in vision controller, motion controller, moisture controller, operator interactive, engineering station, wireless station and micro robots so that it could become a shared facility for universities and companies, adds Wadwa.