Robots on the Rise: How India Can Become a Leader in Robotics Manufacturing

Published  April 10, 2024   0
Satish Shukla, Co-founder & Head, Addverb Technologies

Nowadays, robotics are extremely popular in mining, packaging, manufacturing, and assembly sectors. Basically, robotics is the branch of technology that is related to the design, construction, operation, structural depositions, manufacture, and application of robots. Industrial robots are gaining a huge traction all over the world, mostly in the automotive industry due to their reliability, speed, intelligence, and accuracy. Although robotics are becoming extremely useful in every industrial sector there are loads of grave challenges that need to be addressed soon. For instance, in India, the expense of adopting this technology is tremendously high as hardware components are imported and training personnel are also costly. In this nation, there are hardly any proper institutes that teach robotics and engineering students don't even have much idea about it. In this regard, we spoke to Satish Shukla, Co-founder & Head, Addverb Technologies about the current challenges of making bots in India, the growth scenario of the robotics manufacturing in India, and how the country is poised to lead the sector in the coming few years.

Q.Currently, what are the various challenges of manufacturing in India? What are the various steps required to ease the impediment?

Robots were once known only for the manufacturing business but today they are very much part of many workplaces. The future is even more promising for this wonder of artificial intelligence. However, there are a few challenges, which are hindering the practicality of professional services of robotics in businesses. One is performance hindrances where some of the ‘processing intensive’ activities such as advanced cognition requires complex processing that needs a lot of improvement in terms of interaction quality and accuracy. Another disadvantage is that Mobile professional service robotics works on batteries, and power often restricts their functioning accomplishments. Also, running on-the-go machine learning algorithms using traditional chips such as GPUs that utilize hundreds or even thousands of watts which sounds impossible for a battery- backed robot leads to a battery capacity limitation. Infrastructure availability - Maintaining strong and reliable connectivity in professional robotics for their constant mobility is often difficult. 

Q. Can you please highlight what are some of the latest technologies that can boost the growth of robotics and how India can adopt these technologies?

Using 4G networks connectivity or inexpensive Wi-Fi systems in robotics doesn’t guarantee their quality of service and constraints robotics quick reactions. In certain cases, the warehouse floor in warehouses, congested navigational areas are also some of the major impediments for the robots to be at their best. Also, another impediment is the mindset of comparing the ROI of human labor vs robotics, where robots turn out expensive in the short-term, especially in India, where the labor costs are very low. One way to overcome these challenges is to adapt an automation strategy keeping in mind the long-term value creation that includes both human capital & business operations. Technologically, we can make use of advances in edge AI chips which can improve the robotics performance and power consumption as these chips are designed to draw much lesser power than GPU chips. Advanced 5G technology in solving connectivity problems which gives a reliability rate of 99.99%. Also, network slicing technology allocates network performance to different tasks based on their priority with enhanced reliability. 5G delivers sub-millisecond latencies which allow much faster reaction times. 

Robots Using in Warehouse

Q. Where do you paint the current picture of the growth and popularity of bots in India? Do you think this nation has the capability to lead this industry in the coming few years?

As per 2019 report of World Robotics, the automotive industry remains the largest customer industry with 30% of total installations, ahead of electrical/electronics (25%), metal and machinery (10%), plastics and chemical products (5%) and food and beverages (3%). In India, the latest development has been the rise of online deliveries for grocery and other personal care and home care items which has been triggered due to Covid-19 pandemic. Companies are also constrained by the manpower availability to manage the warehousing operations as many people have left for their hometowns due to the lockdown. To maintain adequate social distancing and to ensure that the product is not touched by many people during the warehousing operations, the Goods-To-Person technologies like Mobile Robots, Carton Shuttle Robots have been picking up extremely fast. 

Nowadays, the AGVs or Mobile robots have become a common sight across manufacturing & distribution centers, carrying a load of raw materials to feed the production line in manufacturing or carrying a tow truckload of finished goods for storage or the neatly packed pallets of finished goods for shipping, now AGVs are gaining the place they were hyped for once. These Material handling robots have been used for material handling, picking, special applications like disinfectant robots, etc. Therefore, an intelligent mobile robot is required that would travel autonomously in various static and dynamic environments. Several techniques are applied for Mobile robots navigation and obstacle avoidance. There are various options available in the market for Mobile Robots globally. Addverb is one such Mobile Robotic Companies in India which offers world class robotics with reliable services to your facility.

Q. What are the various kinds of bots available in India and what are the unique technologies furnished in the bots?

Autonomous Guided Vehicle (AGV): This AGV requires the external guidance system in the form of magnetic strips to travel. These follow a rigid form of the preset route. Typical AGV applications incorporate transportation of raw materials, work-in-progress, and finished goods in support of manufacturing production lines, and storage/retrieval or other movements in support of picking in warehousing and distribution applications. 

Rail Guided Vehicle/Cart (RGV/RGC): RGV/RGC is a fast, flexible and easily installed material transport system that travels at a predefined path guided by rails or tracks. RGC has separate input/output stations that allow it to perform multiple operations at once. These mobile robots are an efficient, cost-effective and fast option for complex sorting applications.

Guided Fork-lifts: This specific AGV type is inspired by the conventional human manned forklifts. These forklifts are becoming increasingly complex and intelligent, full of autonomy for some applications. These could be manned/unmanned traveling with the help of external devices such as tablets, humans, etc. The forklift AGV is designed to provide both horizontal and vertical movement of the load.

Autonomous Mobile Robots: Autonomous mobile robots (AMR) are just like humans; can make their own decisions and then perform tasks accordingly. Autonomous robots can perceive their environment and remember it. Based on the instruction, they navigate in a controlled environment without any predefined path or electro-magnetic guidance map, that way they offer flexibility to a large extent. AMRs also optimize the travel distance by calculating the shortest path for every mission & drive efficiency in the warehouse. 

Q. In India, how are robots helping in manufacturing of electronics? What is the ratio of bots being deployed in manufacturing facilities in India? 

Technology has always altered the landscape of manufacturing. AI, ML and Robotics etc. are disrupting industries such as Electronics, Automobiles, Healthcare and other manufacturing industries. Indian companies have not really embraced technology for their supply chain and not automated their operations to a large extent. And that is the reason we can still see more blue collared employees in Indian warehouses and factories rather than robots. In reality, automation and use of robots can reduce labour cost and optimize the whole operation better than how it was handled manually. Experts have highlighted the need to adapt these technologies across many spheres, beginning with education towards enabling individuals to move and work higher up the value chain in innovative capacities. Forms of smart manufacturing are also starting to come up in India. As mentioned already, some of the challenges to the incorporation of robots in the manufacturing sector in India include lack of value creation in the industry, discrepancies in needed skills and available skills, infrastructure inadequacies and challenges in access to technologies. 

Addverb Technologies

Q. Where do you see the future and the role of robotics in India in regard to the manufacturing industry in the coming five years?

The most significant impact of robots in the Indian Electronics Manufacturing industry will be in enhancing efficiency and bringing simplicity into the process of production through mechanization of tasks previously performed by humans. This will also improve machine interactions and promote real time decision making in the process of components manufacturing. While a move towards complete automation has its own benefits of accuracy and efficiency, it comes with a lot of socio-economic and ethical concerns & also affordability. Today, in spite of the progress we achieved in robotic automation, India is still low in human robot density. According to 2017 World Robot Statistics, the average robot density in India is 3 out of 10,000 employees and now it could be around 7 out of 10,000 employees. The collaboration of humans and robots opens the door to countless opportunities in manufacturing & we at Addverb are trying relentlessly to achieve that.