Tech convergence key to manufacturing in future


As manufacturing goes digital, it will allow things to be made more economically, in much smaller numbers, more flexibly and with less labour.

Sensible, intelligent automation is possible in manufacturing, said B. Santhanam, Managing Director, Saint-Gobain Glass India Ltd.

“Future factories may look more like those of weavers’ cottages than Ford assembly lines,” he said in his address on business leadership, manufacturing excellence and automation at a CII conference on industrial automation — ‘Achieving manufacturing excellence and increased return on investment through industrial automation’.

Santhanam said that convergence of technologies will be key to manufacturing in future. These will be innovative materials like nano materials, 3D printing processes to print solid components, flexible robots and Web-based services. Flexible robots will understand and work with human beings.

Online services will make collaborative manufacturing very interesting. With the manufacturing sector moving from mass production to customisation, a lot of ideas will emerge from the Web. For instance, there could be ‘crowd sourcing’ of ideas and innovation wherein companies can use the services of thousands of scientists on a particular area, he said. 

K. Nandakumar, President, Automation Industry Association, said that for a $2 trillion GDP economy, the share of manufacturing sector was only 16 per cent and contributing 12 per cent of total employment. In comparison, China’s manufacturing sector contributes to nearly 35 per cent of that country’s GDP and in Thailand it is nearly 40 per cent. “If we do not bring employment generation from manufacturing sector to nearly 20 per cent in the next decade, it will create social problems,” he said.

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