2012 Robotics & Automation Special: Interview - Sunil Raibagi

Robotic automation involves use of control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human work in the production of goods and services.

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 17 Sep 2012 Views icon5803 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
2012 Robotics & Automation Special: Interview - Sunil Raibagi
What is Güdel's roadmap for new products in India?

We have developed the function cell for palletising and conveying finished goods materials, which is a new introduction for the market. We are also developing solutions for machine tending robots and gantries for the auto component sector and offering reliable, smart function packages to them. We do not manufacture light weight robots but our robots can handle more payload. This is due to better component design and precision machining of robot parts.

We have also introduced robot movers so that one robot can move and service many locations. We are also developing solutions for the SME segment.

For which applications are Güdel’s robots harnessed?

They are being mainly used for handling and assisting processes. They undertake many jobs in part or tool handling. Robots can do repetitive jobs like machine tending, checking, palletizing, conveying, painting, glewing, welding, cleaning, polishing and deburring.

Can a fewer number of robots perform more work?

Robotic automation involves use of control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human work in the production of goods and services. In industrialisation, automation is a step beyond mechanisation. Whereas in mechanisation, human operators are provided with machinery to assist them with the manual requirements of work, automation greatly decreases the need for human sensory and mental requirements. Automation plays an increasingly important role in the world economy and in daily experience.

One robot is capable of performing the job of five people consistently. Improving the quality of the output in a factory or a manufacturing facility is a key reason to consider automation. By integrating robotics in your manufacturing line you can gain precision that is not possible through manual operators.

How much cost economies ensue from automation?

Automation has had a notable impact in a wide range of industries beyond manufacturing (where it began). Once-ubiquitous telephone operators have been replaced largely by automated telephone switchboards and answering machines. Medical processes such as primary screening in electrocardiography or radiography and laboratory analysis of human genes, sera, cells, and tissues are carried out at much greater speed and accuracy by automated systems. Automated teller machines have reduced the need for bank visits to obtain cash and carry out transactions. In general, automation has been responsible for the shift in the world economy from industrial jobs to service jobs in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The human capital is most important in the entire process chain. Planning, controlling and improvements are the areas where humans can contribute but repetitive jobs should be done by machines. This gives better yield and effective usage of the machineries deployed in production. Building agile production lines is an art and at Güdel we have done several works building them.

In the modern era, one must think per piece cost and automation and process together reduce cost significantly.

What is the scope for further automation in OE factories in India?

There is ample scope for further automation. We offer standard articulated and gantry robots, portal robots, robot transporters, robotic enclosures, and various modules for machine tending, material handling, welding, assembly, thermal cutting, gauging and measurement, forging and hot forming, stamping and cold forming, non-destructive testing, deburring and polishing and surface coating applications.

We can provide solutions to cars, trucks, railways and aerospace and specialise in function packages for handling of power train, gearboxes and body parts. Güdel can also work with auto component makers in the areas of automotive electricals, chassis, bodies, transmissions, fuel injection, engines, windshields, seats, and tyre manufacturing.

There is also scope for automation in engineering goods markets, including engines, motors, pumps, compressors, pneumatics, hydraulics, and generators; domestic and commercial goods markets, including house and office ware, and furniture; and construction markets such as fabrication, cement, fittings, tiles, and doors and windows.

Will the new generation of robots with their high prices make them commercially viable for the Indian automotive industry?

The price of a product and the cost of operations are two different things. This has to be analysed in terms of return on investment. By integrating robotics in your manufacturing line, you can gain precision that is not possible compared to manual human operators and that might give you more profitability. In short, deployment depends upon which problem you have to solve.

One example of a successful custom- automated solution that resulted in increased productivity is one of our clients who used our machine tending robots. The net result was that we combined their existing two machine processes through one gantry, reducing the required factory floor space by 75 percent and decreasing labour minutes used per unit by 50 percent.

Reducing overall manufacturing costs is a positive side-effect. Although upfront costs can be slightly higher in the long-term, industrial automation processes can significantly reduce costs through higher quality, less defective parts, flexibility in the manufacturing line and increased productivity.

Daily human labour cost is increasing while the industry faces skill shortages. The speeds of machine and operation need to address safety issues and hence robotic automation is a better answer to it.

How do you visualise the future of automation here?

The introduction of robots with integrated vision and touch dramatically changes the speed and efficiency of new production and delivery systems. Robots have become so accurate that they can be applied where manual operations are no longer a viable option. The biggest change in industrial robots is that they will evolve into a broader variety of structures and mechanisms. In many cases, configurations that evolve into new automation systems won’t be immediately recognisable as robots. For example, robots that automate semiconductor manufacturing already look quite different from those used in automotive plants.

To implement these directions, demands management and leadership abilities that are different from old, financially-driven models. In the global economy, automation companies have little choice – they must find more ways and means to expand globally. To do this they need to minimise domination of central corporate cultures, and maximise responsiveness to local customer needs.

The companies that can adapt, innovate and utilise global resources will generate significant growth and success. If we look at the new technologies that are coming up in the field of industrial automation, we find a complete shift from traditional practices to more sophisticated and developed technology.

What are the global trends in robotics and automation?

Globally flexible agile lines using robots are becoming more popular and humans are being used for planning and controlling.

Capability improvement is now one of the crucial targets of each manufacturing strategy. This is due to highly competitive environments within industrial institutions. Despite various changes and vast technological automation in production systems, the 'human element’ is still placed at the heart of any successful manufacturing system.

In fact, the strategy for keeping continuous productivity improvement in engineering and technology management has been crucial for enterprises and countries over the last decade. Many attempts have been made to reduce the operating role of the human element within the process of industrial production.

In which areas of the auto industry do you see maximum promise for your products?

We are well known in power train, press automation and transmission and have also supplied lines for automotive glass handling and tyre automation.
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