The 14th Edition of Automation Expo 2019 drew greater attention to human-machine collaboration.

Story by:
Deepti Thore and Deven Lad

The 14th Edition of Automation Expo 2019 scaled up significantly. Hosted on a grand scale at Bombay Exhibition Center, Mumbai, in September 2019, the exhibition drew greater attention to human-machine collaboration. Contrary to the opinions floating on job losses due to increasing levels of automation, the exhibition highlighted the scope of human intervention complementing it. Showcasing Asia’s best automation technology under one roof, Automation Expo 2019 witnessed the participation of an estimated 650 exhibitors. Witnessing a footfall of over 50,000 visitors from no less than 25 countries, the exhibition created a pull for business leaders, entrepreneurs, government officials, engineering students and those keen to know the latest in the area of industrial automation. Robots as a key element of industrial automation were found aplenty. Several companies offered a real-world demo of the automation solutions that they developed. Among the companies that specialise in addressing the automation needs of auto ancillaries were ARi, Menzel Vision and Robotics (MVR), Passenger Drone Research Pvt. Ltd (PDRL), Beckhoff India Pvt. Ltd., Griffyn Robotech, LDRA, MCI Robotics and others.

Serving as an effective platform to fund managers and venture capitalists in their bid to collaborate with start-ups and technology companies, the Automation Expo 2019 turned out to be highly successful. Providing an opportunity to those seeking seed funding as well as investment opportunities, the show highlighted the latest developments in the field, including Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A). The four-days of the expo saw the showcasing of existing and new technologies like factory automation, robotics, drives and controls, logistics, hydraulics and pneumatics, IO-Link, pumps and valves, and software solutions. The expo saw experts talk about the latest trends and the deployment of collaborative robots (cobots). They stressed on the need to automate in every industry. Expressed M.Arokiaswamy, Managing Director, IED Communications, “It (Automation) is no longer an emerging trend or a cutting edge technology for the future. It is the reality we need to live with, here and now”. A brainchild of Arokiaswamy, the expo, starting in a small hall in 2002, grew up to create quite a buzz in 2019.

In his inaugural address, Naushad Forbes, Co-Chairperson of Forbes Marshall, emphasised upon the growth of the Indian economy. He drew attention to the measures companies should undertake to improve their standing in the global context. In a keynote address, averred Forbes, “For the right kind of reforms there is a need for greater constructive intervention from the Centre.” “India as an open economy needs to benchmark and compete with the best,” he stated. He added that while the USD five trillion economy goal was achievable, the challenge was to achieve it by 2024 with an annual growth rate of eight per cent. About four per cent faster compared to that of China. Forbes went on to stress how crucial it is to invest in human resources and technology. “When we invest in people, we create a basic foundation for inclusive growth,” he mentioned. Claiming that 60 per cent growth in the economy was a direct outcome of consumption, he emphasised on the need to include millions from the lower strata who have seen a transformation in their earning potential to drive India’s growth story. Forbes also emphasised upon the need to scale up R&D activity in India with investments in technology to match global levels and eventually foray in international markets to mark a new chapter in the history of the country. The stakeholders of the automation industry were urged to seek duty-free structure on imports to ensure greater industry access to the best in automation.

Automation companies including TAL Brabo, Ametek Instruments, Autonics Automation, B&R Industrial Automation, Baumer India, BECKHOFF Automation, Chemtrols Industries, DEHN India, Dynalog India, EPLAN, Eppinger Tooling, FARO Technologies, Forbes Marshall, HMS Industrial Networks, Honeywell – Sensing & Productivity Solutions to low-cost automation companies like igus added to the vibrancy of the overall ambience at the exhibition. InnoVista Sensors, Jaibalaji Controlgears, JUMO India, Lenze Mechatronics, Maxon Precision Motor, PVR Controls, Parker Hannifin (I) Pvt Ltd, Pepperl & Fuchs, Phoenix Contact, Rotork Controls, Rockwin Flowmeter India Pvt Ltd, Sude Engineering Group, SDTork Controls Pvt Ltd, Shavo Norgren (I) Pvt Ltd, Smoothflow Meters, UL Group, VEGA India were the other exhibitors out in full strength with their respective booths buzzing with next-generation instalments of Intelligent Automation solutions.

With the underlying theme ‘Digitalisation and Industry 4.0’, experts deliberated upon digital disruptions taking place in the auto components industry among other parallel industries. Here, topics such as AI-driven development, digital twins, edge and blockchain found a special mention. The panel discussion on digital disruption highlighted the imperative of contextualising data into valuable information and insight. While speaking on digitalisation in the industry, Arokiaswamy said, “Business models are rapidly changing as the buoyant automotive industry is now realising all of a sudden, technology doesn’t wait for anyone”. Panelists urged companies to look beyond baseline shifts, and instead anticipate and prepare innovative solutions to tackle the disruptive trends looming large on the components industry. As contributors to digital transformation, automated workflow, decision support analytics, mobility, change management and workforce upskilling found a special mention. Busting the myth on rising automation levels proving to be a bane for human resources fearing job loss, opined the Vice President and General Manager of ARC Advisory Group, G. Ganapathiraman, that certain repetitive tasks on a shop floor, for instance, are ought to be automated. Allaying fears of job loss at the hands of industrial automation, Ganapathiraman batted for human resources staying relevant in the future. Automation Expo 2019 drew curtains on yet another buoyant edition with an award ceremony where Griffyn Robotech Pvt. Ltd., won the Platinum award. PDRL and Yokogawa India Ltd. were felicitated with a Gold award.

Chennai based ARi offers engineering solutions to heavy machinery and construction equipment manufacturers. At Automation Expo 2019, the company showcased the Yaskawa robot. Dealing in special-purpose machines, line automation, Industry 4.0 (IIoT), ARi drew attention to the capabilities of Yaskawa HS-150, a robot of Japanese origin as an integrator. The Yaskawa robot is suited to applications like painting, welding line management and for applications in testing and validation of powertrains. With the significant transformation in the auto industry, ARi is looking to assist automakers with its integrated Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) engineering services and solutions. From concept to engineering and final system validation, ARi provides vertically integrated engineering and testing expertise under one roof anchored by disciplines in system, design and controls. The company develops turnkey robotic solutions for complete automotive lines for the stamping, body and general assembly shops. It provides services like core processing, fixture design, robotic simulation (offline and online programming), controls, manufacturing, installation and commissioning. It integrates autonomous solutions into every part of the machining process, from sourcing components to developing the controller software, to the vehicle integration, testing and validation. The company also supports clients through the purchase and aftermarket journey including the provision of sales support and maintenance.

Balluff Automation India Pvt. Ltd
Family-run company Balluff Automation India Pvt. Ltd began as one of the few manufacturers of sensors. Today the company has built on the early mover advantage to establish a presence in Europe, Asia, North and South America taking its overall reach to 68 countries. With products catering to foundries, powertrain, stamping, bodyshop, paintshop, final assembly and new energy vehicles, the company drew attention to IO-Link. Displaying an IO-Link wall, the company demonstrated the ease of installation. It allows for fast changeovers, predictive maintenance, efficient operation besides offering a suitable network. The custom big data delivered by IO-Link can help companies extract valuable business insights. Pegging the market penetration of IO-Link at two per cent, the company aims to get a major share of the 98 per cent market that remains to be tapped. Showcasing sensor technology the company displayed premium sensors including inductive, capacitive, magnetic field, magnetic encoders, photoelectric, ultrasonic, pressure, magnetostrictive and mechanical cam switches.

Passenger Drone Research Pvt. Ltd (PDRL)
Nashik based company Passenger Drone Research Pvt. Ltd (PDRL) won a Gold award at Automation Expo 2019. On a mission to develop a safe and eco-friendly aerial vehicle based on Drone technologies, the underlying objective of the company is to free the world from congestion and pollution. Focused on the development of an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV), popularly referred to as ‘Air Taxi’, PDRL’s drone ‘Pravaas’​ will ferry passengers autonomously on a Point-to-Point (P2P) path. The company is additionally coming up with its flagship product ‘Pravaas G1’​ a transportation solutions​ in two variants: Pravaas G1 rated for 350 Kgs for two passengers and Pravaas G1 rated for 850 Kgs for four passengers. The company is of the firm belief that air transport is also an effective way to deliver cargo. Among key inclusions of the AAV is the high-performance ducted eight contra-rotating blades, redundant systems and electric powered Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL). As per Saurabh Joshi, Chief Marketing Officer at PDRL, drones are eco-friendly given that no fossil fuel is burnt in its operations. Claimed to have designed the drone indigenously, explained Joshi that the complexity levels of the drone are of a much lower degree than anticipated by most. In an early mover advantage, the flight controller and its software requirement have been met in consultation with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The company is also involved in the drafting of the drone policy giving it a definite advantage over competing companies.

Griffyn Robotech Pvt. Ltd.
Griffyn Robotech Pvt. Ltd., was present at Automation Expo with its product ‘Deepsight’, a 3D machine vision system with deep learning capabilities that is claimed to automatically help detect, analyse and grade the cosmetic defects with accuracy, precision and speed. It has features like fast and accurate detection, measurement and analysis of surface defects ( scratches, dings, dents and cracks on vehicles). Having flexible and adaptive Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning based algorithm, the system works on a cloud-based customised grading logic and configurable and modular solution. The flexible inspection system combines with advanced machine vision and deep learning algorithm to help detect defects on glossy, shiny or rough surfaces and help eliminate subjectivity in inspection and grading. Rapid inspection part programming allows for efficient setup of different part configurations. The company provides a scalable and customisable solution to suit product size and defect specification. The indigenously developed embedded software enables fully automated and remotely configurable software platform that can be easily customised and deployed at a factory network to suit customers requirements. Griffin’s robotic solutions include inspection automation, machine tending, pick and place, glueing/sealant, buffing and polishing. Its range of IoT products includes AIR, an acronym for (As I Recall) which is solution designed specifically for documenting devices and their condition when they are returned to the OEM/Carrier’s facility/warehouse.

Beckhoff India Pvt. Ltd.
Headquartered at Pune, Beckhoff India, focused on the complete range of smart and digital automation at the Automation Expo 2019. With a vision to carry out end-to-end digitisation, the company made sure it took up all aspects of the digitisation, connected production with its presence at the expo. Among the company’s latest products on display were high-end measurement applications and system portfolio of PC- and EtherCAT-based control technology catering to the tyre and rubber industry demanding intelligent and cost-effective automation solutions. The range of products offered by Beckhoff India also included Industrial PCs, I/Os and Fieldbus components for the automotive sector with a uniform, scalable and modular control system. Offering solutions for IoT communication, the company introduced software modules in TwinCAT Vision and TwinCAT Speech, expanding the functions for machine and system control with the capabilities to see, hear and speak. System-integrated safety solutions for a wide range of architectures, from stand-alone to distributed were also exhibited. In the past, the company has supplied the PC- and EtherCAT-based automation platform to Volkswagen Motorsport which is said to have led to the company winning at the Dakar Rally.

LDRA Technology Pvt. Ltd
Headquartered in the United Kingdom with subsidiaries in the United States, India and Germany coupled with an extensive distributor network, LDRA Technology Pvt. Ltd made its presence felt at the Automation Expo 2019. Addressing the concerns of automotive systems developers with the move towards more rigorous process standards raising concerns around higher development cycles and implementation costs, the company showcased the LDRA tool suite which provides complete software verification and validation solution for the development of safety and security-related automotive software. Completely integrated yet open, the extensible solution is claimed to enable customers to build quality into their software from requirements through to deployment, helping to eliminate or reduce their more labour-intensive and error-prone elements. The suite for Automotive enables embedded developers to quickly understand the requirements of the new ISO 26262-6:2018 standard depending on the Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) required for their application, and to help ensure safe and secure automotive application development and deployment. LDRA helps developers of security- and safety-critical automotive systems meet software quality and test requirements like requirements traceability, coding standards compliance, ISO 26262 Objective, Integration with Model-based Design, structural coverage analysis, object code verification and coding standards compliance. LDRA software tools and services are claimed to deliver increased developer productivity and software quality while reducing overall project schedule and cost. TÜV SÜD and SGS-TÜV SAAR have certified the use of the LDRA tool suite for security- and safety-critical development in the automotive industry under ISO 26262-8:2011.

MCI Robotics
Chennai headquartered MCI robotics of Malles Construction designs, manufactures and deploys robotic arms to help automate the production process of auto components. The company presented their robot SR-4-6-550 claimed to have been designed with precision to handle applications such as glueing, inspection, screw tightening, soldering in the automotive industry. The SR series is claimed to have been crafted with the idea of helping manufacturers save time, labour and materials. It has four (synchronous control) degree of freedom (axis) and a rated payload capacity of six kilograms. The robots deliver simplified usability and coupled with future-ready technology is said to be simple to configure and highly adaptable to customer requirements. The Company’s efficient and cost-effective products are designed and developed to guarantee utmost precision and increased productivity in a varied set of industries including automotive.

Meco Instruments Pvt. Ltd
Known for its reliable instruments, Meco Instruments Pvt. Ltd, based in Navi Mumbai from its range of automotive meters and battery capacity testers segment, showcased the battery meter, digital battery meter/vehicle battery system meter, with a printer, multifunction automotive meter and a digital automotive multimeter. Along with these it also showcased digital panel meters and modules, power line transducers, analogue panel and switchboard meters. The testing and measuring instruments range included digital clamp meters/tong testers, solar analysers, environment testing Instruments, Power and harmonics analysers besides calibrating equipment/CT’s. With its wide range of testing equipment and standards as its backbone, the company focuses on product innovation. Inspired by the ‘Make in India’ initiative, MECO has been using state-of-art electronics and infrastructure along with indigenously designed intelligent software/firmware to manufacture products and services for the automotive industry.


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