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The makings of a smart factory — a touch of tech and retrofitting

India
Typography

Homes, commercial buildings, metros and cities are going green, with energy efficiency. Now it is the turn of factories to make a buzz.

For factories, going smart and efficient is no longer a one-time effort but a constantly changing goalpost where energy efficiency and automation are set to...


Homes, commercial buildings, metros and cities are going green, with energy efficiency. Now it is the turn of factories to make a buzz.

For factories, going smart and efficient is no longer a one-time effort but a constantly changing goalpost where energy efficiency and automation are set to make a difference to the way we produce and work.

Schneider Electric, the diversified energy management and automation major, has transformed one such establishment into a green factory by retrofitting and upgrading its existing facilities with new, tech-powered solutions.

Located about an hour’s drive from Hyderabad, this is one of the 200 factories the global multinational corporation operates. Here, more than two-thirds of employees on the shop floor and assembly lines are women.

Set up over a decade ago to deliver medium and low voltage distribution products, it is a beautiful sight of a green campus with trees where women dressed in green are seen assembling electrical switches and other items. Significantly, more than 50 per cent of the items made in the facility are exported to other markets.

During a recent visit to the smart factory, Shrinivas Chebbi, President, Buildings Business, Schneider Electric, explained how the factory will serve as a showpiece for hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises who can visit the premises and see for themselves how systems work in a smart factory.

The demo zones at the facility help visitors experience how automation and internet of things function in an industrial environment, and how the entire process could be remotely controlled and managed through a hand-held tab or device. In a typical smart factory, various technologies, including artificial intelligence, robotics, analytics, big data and internet of things, are all laced together as a single connected entity and facilitate automation. Schneider Electric expects to convert more than half its factories into smart ones by 2020. And while doing so, the company is looking at facilitating other factories to do the same and hopes to showcase how to bring about the transformation with its range of products and solutions.

What powers the transformation

The company seeks to facilitate digital transformation of industrial automation markets through what it calls EcoStruxure architecture, IoT technologies and integration software. The software is integrated with the machine components that carry out the manufacturing process, making it possible for new businesses to automate, improve efficiencies and improve profitability. Schneider, which entered India is 1963, now has 24 manufacturing facilities and employs over 20,000 people. Apart from smart factories, it is also looking to engage with Smart Cities projects as it had worked with Naya Raipur (Atal Nagar).

Javed Ahmad, Senior Vice-President, GSC, Schneider Electric-India, says, “Schneider Electric’s Hyderabad facility is the first ‘Smart Factory’ in India, and is amongst the 10 chosen factories for the Smart Factory showcase across countries. The initiative is in line with our global commitment to develop over 100 Smart Factories by 2020. The Smart Manufacturing solutions are powered by EcoStruxure for Industry, to optimise production and operation processes, and improve energy efficiency at all levels. The Hyderabad plant manufactures products like low voltage masterpact, CCBs and others. Masterpact MTZ is produced in only three facilities worldwide, including in Hyderabad. The plant was established in 2007 and has a direct employment of 1,000 people.

“The facility reinforces Schneider Electric’s values of diversity and inclusion with 67 per cent of the workforce being women and over 1 per cent of differently abled people,” he adds.


Read full article on Hindu Business Line CleanTech



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