Sharada Prahladrao captures the spirit of Automation Expo 2017 in a nutshell, as reveled at two important concurrent events.

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    Automation Expo

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    Conferences and Exhibitions

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For the third year in a row, ARC Advisory Group was a logo sponsor at the Automation Expo 2017 (August 9-12) in Mumbai, India. IED Communications hosted the event. Organised by Mr M Arokiaswamy, Managing Director, IED Communications, this event is touted to rank among the largest automation & instrumentation exhibitions in Southeast Asia; its objective is to fuel innovation and growth. This began as a biennial event in 2002; but from 2011 it has been hosted as an annual event. Today, it has emerged as a platform for all stakeholders in the automation industry to network and showcase cutting-edge technologies and solutions.

Mr G Ganapathiraman, Country Manager, ARC Advisory Group India was invited to participate in both the CEO Summit and IIoT Conference (a first for ARC) at which he made a well-received presentation. CEO Summit The speakers at the CEO Summit were highly respected industry leaders representing suppliers and end users. On the dais were: Dr B R Mehta – Reliance; K Nandakumar – Chemtrols; Anil Bhatia – Emerson; Gurumurthy Santhanakrishnan – GE Oil & Gas; Alok Verma – Haldar Topsoe India; and Ganapathiraman – ARC Advisory Group. Topics discussed ranged from adopting smart processes for energy efficiency, to asset monitoring, continuous innovation, and cybersecurity. “Integration” formed the backbone of the discussions.

Key takeaways from the presentations included:

• No longer can companies work in silos, horizontal and vertical integration of plants is necessary to achieve operational excellence

• Integrated product development is essential for better cost control, and

• In a connected world, there has to be integration between people, processes, partnerships, and technology tools.

In this context, the emphasis was on equipment/machines that must have self-diagnostic and self-healing properties. This led to further discussion on deploying cloud technologies to improve productivity, lower cost, and improve time-to-market. Modern day control rooms are centralized and smaller, and due to increased connectivity “controls are on the move.” Industry-academia partnership emerged as an important factor to nurture innovation and fuel industrial growth. This is very relevant because the “baby boomers” are retiring and those graduating from colleges are not yet “industry ready.” The experienced employees now retiring also take away critical knowledge with them. Hence it is vital to capture and retain that knowledge for a company’s long-term growth.

IIoT Conference

This session too had an impressive speaker line-up representing industry and business consultants; and predictably all the presentations were about the IIoT imperative. Convergence of IT/OT, robotics, digital twin, cybersecurity, etc., is how organisations think and operate the world over. In his keynote address, Raman spoke about how modern business pressures are driving manufacturers to become real-time, integrated enterprises and achieve operational excellence. Most industrial IoT blocks are already in place, he said; the top drivers for adoption of IIoT (based on ARC’s survey) are: reduced downtime and faster service. Answering the what, how, and why of “digital,” the speakers said that in the business world everything is becoming digital – from hiring to gauging skillsets; teams that network across geographies; and technology becoming a routine aspect of our professional and social lives. One of the speakers made a hard-to-forget statement: “Digital is becoming the third eye.” This can be interpreted in two ways – new and disruptive technologies have given us a different vision and future direction. (A more thought provoking interpretation would be from Hindu mythology: Lord Shiva’s two eyes represent his activities in the physical world, while his third eye in the middle of his forehead, symbolises his spiritual wisdom and power.) This conference provided valuable information about the IIoT journey – how it began, the different stages, where we are now, and where we are heading.

A few things that we learned:

• The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) provides support for creation of test beds and unifying platforms

• Several Government initiatives like Make in India, Smart City, Skill India drive digitalisation

• Next-gen manufacturing is needed for efficiency and enhanced productivity

• Organisational structures are changing – now there is vertical integration and machine-to-machine horizontal integration, and

• In a connected world, cybersecurity is extremely important.

Conferences such as this one create building blocks of learning – brick by brick we understand new technologies, collaborate, innovate and grow in a digital environment.

(Sharada Prahladrao is editor and public relations manager at ARC India. ARC Advisory Group is the leading technology research and advisory firm for industry, infrastructure, and cities.)