[India MSME Summit 2021] How automation is paving the way for ‘industrial revolution 4.0’ in India

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A group of experts from India’s manufacturing sector came together to discuss how automation in India will pave the way for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat at YourStory’s third annual India MSME Summit 2021.
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With the onset of COVID-19, businesses have realised that they cannot go on without leveraging technology. In fact, it has accelerated the pace at which businesses, especially SMBs, are adopting technology. 

This also means that India is ushering in a ‘new industrial revolution’ that will be defined by the use of technologies like IoT, connectivity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, advanced engineering, and much more. 

One of the newest trends to have strongly emerged in the Indian manufacturing industry is factory automation. This market is exhibiting significant growth owing to the growing need for a cost-effective method of production. While automation is the way forward, it also leads to the possibility of machines replacing humans, leading to job losses. 

 

At YourStory’s India MSME Summit 2021, Kanishka Arumugam, Co-CEO of EKKI; Uday Narang, Chairman of Anglian Omega Group; and Pankaj Poddar, CEO of Cosmo Films, came together to discuss all these predicaments along with how automation in the MSME manufacturing will pave the way for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat. 

Innovation in manufacturing

Indian businesses have realised that innovation in manufacturing is as important as innovation in the final product, said Kanishka, who leads a pump manufacturing business based out of Coimbatore. 

Uday and Pankaj further added that automation was already getting incorporated in India but COVID-19 accelerated the pace at which companies were adopting it. 

On why automation’s growing importance, Pankaj said, “Large companies and corporates value convenience and value for money. They are adopting automation really fast because they have seen their hourly production and productivity going up, quality checks enhancing the product, etc.”

Does automation mean job loss?

One of the common fears that automation has created is widespread unemployment since it may lead to machines replacing humans. 

How much are these fears justified?

Kanishka believes that going forward, this is going to be something the ecosystem will have to face and address. “Factories in the coming times will have fewer people. We need to see how we can upskill our current labour or use them more effectively in other value-added jobs.”

Pankaj, however, had a different take. He said that “humankind has been fearing technology” but ignores how many jobs it has created.

He said, “We need to focus on upskilling people and knowledge. The jobs will go down in some areas but it will definitely go up in others.”

Automation is the future

All panellists agreed that Indian small and medium enterprises have been slow in the adoption of technology. Challenges like investment, the impact of the pandemic, lack of knowledge, and more have further made it difficult for small businesses to adopt automation. 

A lot of SMBs also face the challenge of understanding at what scale they should adopt automation. Uday said while huge costs are involved, companies should take a “step-by-step approach.” “Automation has to happen but in a phased manner wherein organisations have to plan their cash flows and invest according to its capabilities.”

He said that in his company, Anglian Omega Group, automation has been taking place in all verticals – from steel to electric vehicles. “In our company, there is a saying that if you don’t change with the times, times will change you.” Pankaj and Kanishka added that Indian businesses need to look at ways to adopt automation because it makes the consumer experience seamless – something all businesses should aspire to achieve to survive and thrive. 

Uday thus concluded that smart factories are the future and automation will pave the way for ‘industrial revolution 4.0’, which will, in turn, help in making India Aatmanirbhar.

Edited by Kanishk Singh