Rockwell Automation looks to acquire more Indian firms

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November 23, 2019 1:02 AM

Automation companies often come under fire in developing countries for taking away jobs that involve repetitive tasks but serve the lowest levels of society.

The company has some manufacturing presence in India though any plan to expand it to a larger scale is still at a nebulous stageThe company has some manufacturing presence in India though any plan to expand it to a larger scale is still at a nebulous stage

Betting big on the India story, global industrial automation major Rockwell Automation is looking to acquire more companies in the country after buying Pune-based manufacturing technology consulting firm MESTECH Services last month.

“We plan to acquire more companies in India. Besides, we are partnering companies like Infosys, Tech Mahindra and Wipro. We believe India will remain a strong growth area for us for several years to come,” said Rockwell Automation president (Asia Pacific) Joe Sousa at a media briefing.

The companies that Rockwell is looking to acquire fall in the three primary areas of IoT, platform expansion and process. “We are looking for one point or more of growth per year from inorganic investments. In India, we continue to look to bolster our IoT capabilities, either from a development perspective or delivery perspective.

“We are making significant investments in our process space, expecting tremendous growth here in the years to come. We continue to look for new technologies as well as delivery capabilities, besides expanding our offerings in the markets we serve around the world,” added Sousa.

Rockwell Automation has been present in India for around 35 years. Managing director (India) Dilip Sawhney said his company was one of the earliest in the sector to set up a base in India, a presence that was further strengthened with the formation of a wholly-owned subsidiary.

The company has some manufacturing presence in India though any plan to expand it to a larger scale is still at a nebulous stage. “We continue to make investments in India.

“We opened a new engineering centre last year in Bengaluru. We are doing some manufacturing in India today, especially around drive system capability for the Indian market, as well as building panels in Pune,” said Sousa.

Automation companies often come under fire in developing countries for taking away jobs that involve repetitive tasks but serve the lowest levels of society. However, Rockwell Automation views this issue in a different light.

According to vice-president (enterprise software sales) Berry M Johnson, earlier it was cheap labour that prevented companies in many emerging countries from going in for base level of automation.

But now automation is essential for moving to the next phase of digitisation, which in turn makes a company globally competitive.

“For any given time, 1%-2% of jobs will be at risk due to automation while another 1%-2% will be coming from the other end of very highly skilled segment. But this shift would be slow. It is not that an operator will become a data scientist tomorrow,” said Johnson.

Sousa said: “We have seen a shift in the type of labour. So, it is more skilled labour that is being hired for the automation and information platforms. It is productivity and competitiveness that will drive growth and lead to expansion. You need to look at it (automation) in a different light.

“It is a more skilled labour force where humans and human innovation are interacting with automation to improve productivity, reduce cost and drive growth.”
(Travel for this report was sponsored by Rockwell Automation)

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