India is not behind any other nation in terms of industrial technology, says Siemens

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January 30, 2020 5:00 PM

Siemens India, a solution service provider, believes India is not behind any other nation when it comes to using industrial and commercial technologies.

India needs to bridge the skill gap within and across companies: Bhaskar Mandal

Siemens India, a solution service provider, believes India is not behind any other nation when it comes to using industrial and commercial technologies. The multi-year gap between available technology between India and other countries has ended. In an interview with Financial Express Online, Bhaskar Mandal, Head- Digital Industries, Siemens Limited says India, however, needs to bridge the skill gap within and across companies. Edited Excerpts:

In which sector do you see the digital trend picking up the most in India?

I think pretty much everywhere. If you look at any industry today, including SMEs, they want to go all the way up to large-scale. They want more efficiency, more productivity, they want reduced costs, they want to reach their customers faster in a very safe, secure and reliable way. Therefore, the demand for efficiency improvement and quality is there across whether it’s chemical, whether it’s pharma, whether it’s glass or it’s food or beverage or automobiles. I’m sure you’ve heard of Industry 4.0, which is nothing but saying that whether you make something, whether you produce something, whether you serve something, data is always there. How do you best use the data to make your product and service more efficient? Our interpretation and our execution of Industry 4.0 in practice is this digital twin. In short, the demand is across pretty much all industries.

Digitalisation is at a nascent stage in India. Do you see any change in some trends here and how quick is the adoption of technology?

I’m very happy to see that there is adoption or the openness to new technology amongst the companies. let me speak specifically about the Indian companies. If you take Indian companies, they are very open to new things. The receptiveness of new technology is relatively very high. They’re always willing to learn, experiment and do things in a way where they see the benefit of the investment that they’ve made. And more often than not, almost every customer of ours who’ve gotten into digitalization, they’ve realized that the return on investment on digitalization has been beyond their expectation, which means that it has been faster. As Indians, we’re very ambitious in our business areas. We want to go out and conquer the world and explore and whatnot, and then given for that is the quality has to be of those levels. You have to be able to compete globally. And therefore, I think without adopting the latest technologies, unless and until the Indian companies adopt these technologies, their global competitiveness will not be aged.

How do you see automation in the automotive sector?

Automation always makes a lot of sense the more numbers you produce. Today, the life of a car has also gone up. So, the auto industry is definitely benefiting from automation and digitalization. And in my opinion, will continue to do so. But overall, I don’t think the future of automated manufacturing, be it normal gasoline engines or internal combustion engines or electric vehicles is threatened by automation. It can only help. Automation will only help improve the quality and the deliverability and last but not least, the time to market. That’s very crucial. It’s pointless if you say I’m going to produce this and a competitor beats you to it and already shows something else which is celebrated than your car.

 What are the hindrances you, as a solution provider, have to face? 

It’s a rather open question. Let me put it this way. I think the main bridge that we – when I say we I mean us and the concerned customer or the OEM, that we need to cross together is how to approach automation or digitalization. And more often than not, the discussion is a little bit under faith as to if I invest, how much will I get it back and when will I get it back. But prima facie, it depends on the pain points that a customer has and how quickly we, as industry suppliers, understand those pain points. As far as consulting is conserved, I need to be able to consult you, I need to be able to implement and after implementation, I need to be able to optimize. That’s what we call the CIO – Consult, Implement and Optimize. And that’s the capability that we’re having today and working forward. And more and more, we’re getting into newer verticals, newer business areas are coming in. So, it is our endeavour to work together with the customer in his or her industry consumer journey. And that’s the digital enterprise we’re talking about.

Coming back to the digital aspect, with the advent of technology, is there a gap that you need to fill when it comes to skill sets?

For sure, there is a skill gap that needs to be bridged. Within an organization itself, you’ll have various levels of knowledge among employees. Some are advanced and some need to learn more and the technology is changing very quickly outside. So, how quickly we assimilate even internally, communicate and build that skill set is very important.

The customers are pretty much very comfortable with their own specific domain knowledge. Acquisition of skill, imparting skill is a very critical process and it’s continuous learning. It can’t be that I train you on something or I train myself on something today and it’s going to last me for 5 years. I would probably need to get a refresher every 6 months. All of us, irrespective of age, functional domain, we always have to relearn.

The key thing to understand here is – the different domains are getting all interconnected. All these various domains are coming together because, at the end of the day, it’s becoming a very symbiotic system and inter-related. We need to invest in these emerging areas, we need to train them, we need to constantly speak to our customers. And it’s two-way learning. To put it all simply, unless we all put our heads together from different specialities, we cannot solve the particular problem. And that’s why it’s very important to have the right skill-up.

How do you see the Indian market in terms of digitalisation compared to international markets? Are companies more technologically advance in markets like Europe?

That is a bit of a myth now. Today, if there’s something new –  for example, we have something called the Neural Processing Unit. It has built-in artificial intelligence algorithm topics and it can do machine-learning. Now, such technology/ product launches are happening simultaneously. When it gets launched in Europe, it’s also getting launched here. The accessibility of technology has become much faster. Earlier, typically you had sometimes a multiple-year gap between what was available as a technology in a developed world, a western world and India. Today, those boundaries are disappearing. There is nothing that stops an Indian entrepreneur from using technology and competing with the rest of the world. That is our role as technology providers and solution providers.

Nowadays, one cannot simply say that they don’t have access to a particular technology. I’m not talking about military or defence sectors but for day-to-day commercial and industrial usage, there is no gap between the availability of technology.

What are the investments you have put in the new products/technology this year?

I cannot disclose the number for this year but we do invest a substantial per cent of revenue in RnD. We take pride in the fact that we invest significantly in RnD. To add some related information here, India plays a key role in the global mark of Siemens. So, we have large RnD centres in India. There are PhD students, engineers, working for making global products out of India. Siemens considers India as a source of innovation for the rest of the world.

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