Micrologic leverages automation for growth
Micrologic has worked with key automotive clients and its automated assembly lines are currently running at Mahindra Electric, TVS Motor, Hyundai Motor India, Continental India, Magneti Marelli, Visteon India, Varroc Group, Faurecia, John Control and Bosch.
From product assembly, inspection, testing and packaging, Bangalore-based Micrologic Integrated Systems’ extensive range of technology and expertise is helping deliver automated solutions for the manufacturing industry.
The smart-technology driven Industry 4.0, which enables connectivity of machines, devices, and people anytime, anywhere and at any place, is today fast becoming a mantra for the manufacturing world. The Bangalore-based Micrologic Integrated Systems designs, develops, manufactures, validates and delivers comprehensive, end-to-end solutions in automating the manufacturing processes in assembly, inspection, test, and packaging.
Jayaram M S, director of Micrologic Integrated Systems, believes that his passion for electronics has made him an entrepreneur, which is what led him to found the company in his residential premises 15 years ago. Today, the company supplies highly electronic and automated assembly lines to the automotive industry which helps them to productionise faster and develop superior products. Micrologic helps manufacturing companies to become future ready by way of adopting automation to produce higher quality products with faster turnaround time.
“I was passionate about electronics as a child. While working for Tata Power, I got to know about business processes and was instrumental in implementing ISO 9000 at the company. This offered me a real insight in the business,” says Jayaram who, along with his team, has grown the firm into a promising automation enterprise over the past decade.
Jayaram, a first-generation entrepreneur, learned the art of doing business along the way, initially starting with embedded product development in early 2000. The company ventured into automation in 2006 by doing PLC base equipment and first developed a vision-based inspection system for instrument clusters for the automotive industry. As a first project, the company built an instrument cluster line for Continental in India for two-wheeler instrument clusters. Earlier, this line used to be imported from Germany but Micrologic help provide the company an import substitute.
This was followed by an automated line for Hyundai Motor India for its i20 hatchback in Chennai, which was producing 180 different variants, handling complex operations. It also supplied an instrument cluster line for Ford’s Tier 1 supplier for the Figo. Micrologic has worked with key automotive clients and its automated assembly lines are currently running at Mahindra Electric, TVS Motor, Hyundai Motor India, Continental India, Magneti Marelli, Visteon India, Varroc Group, Faurecia, John Control and Bosch.
About a decade ago, the electronics content in passenger cars and two-wheelers was minimal but today it has rapidly increased. Also, due to higher emission norms, ECUs are coming into vehicle engines thereby increasing their complexity. At the same time, OEMs are keen on rolling out zero-defect products and it is here that Micrologic helps companies with automated assembly lines to achieve this quality goal.
Understanding its customers need for speed, precision, and flexibility, Micrologic designs, develops, manufactures, validates and delivers comprehensive, end-to-end solutions in automating the manufacturing processes in assembly, inspection, test and packaging. The company approaches every project with a pre-automation consultancy approach, where the requirement is first defined. Its capabilities of system design, mechanical engineering, electronics, embedded engineering, robotics, machine vision, software development, PLC integration, part manufacturing, assembly, integration, test and validation under one roof helps it deliver complete solutions to its customers.
The highlight of these machines is that they are Industry 4.0 enabling, which means they acquire data about whatever they do and send it to the Cloud. This data can be used for analysing productivity, quality, rejection and production outcome, among other things. These machines assemble and inspect parts at each stage and track a particular part by integrating the stores with the manufacturing line. The operator can easily view the entire activity underway, thanks to software call visual factory running in the background. The company designs, develops the software and hardware of the entire line, and sells the completely built assembly-line.
When queried about how the company attained its critical skills for building these complex and automated machines, Jayaram says, “In 2007, we had our team trained in Germany to understand the technologies and concepts of manufacturing, which gave us a lot of exposure. After that, we continue to learn with each project. This has helped us further leverage our capabilities.”
The learnings from the European experience applied in India proved to be instrumental in bagging business from Tier 1 European suppliers in India.
Until a few years ago, most assembly lines were run by people but there are certain applications and processes where machine intervention is necessary due to the sheer scale and complexity involved, which is where automation comes into play. “An electronic part has about 200 parameters at a complete assembly and this is not physically possible to simulate and test. Our machines create vehicle conditions and simulate the vehicle part. Every product comes out of the line in just 20 seconds, completely tested and traced back to its parameters,” says Jayaram.
By manufacturing critical automated assembly lines locally, Micrologic is providing import substitutes and saving foreign exhchange. It also offers high-quality local service support, which is critical for these systems as they produce thousands of parts per hour and simply cannot afford to break down. Micrologic machines have in-built intelligence, offering an alert before any possible maintenance issue props up.
Although the company caters to all automotive segments, it foresees demand coming its way from electric vehicles for its battery assembly, battery testing and battery management systems.
“We have deployed an EV testing system at Mahindra Electric where the vehicle is connected to our system, which is measuring all the voltages through the engine control units. Going forward, battery management is where we will be working closely,” says Jayaram. He believes battery technology is improving rapidly. Battery pack assembly is quite complex and automation is necessary; if a raw battery pack is installed in an EV, it could possibly lead to a safety issue. Thus, the company foresees greater prospects in this area. It is also working on building its own EV charger.
Two years ago, due to capacity constraints, the company moved to a bigger location but even this proved to be insufficient to meet demand. Two months ago, Micrologic has once again moved, this time into an even bigger facility.
The automotive sector contributes nearly 80 percent of Micrologic's total revenue and has been growing consistently. The near-term focus is to grow the Indian business even as it diversifies into other industries. While it has not yet commenced exports, it is is exploring opportunities. The immediate focus is on building capabilities in India and training people with the right skills.
“We are excited about the future with Industry 4.0 – it’s all about software and electronics. EVs are also looking promising for us. Next-gen vehicles will not only be electric but intelligent, which offers us a brighter future,” says Jayaram, brimming with confidence.
(This article was first published in the August 1, 2017 print edition of Autocar Professional)
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