Hatgine of Ifm: Covid-19 has expedited transition to automated systems
Amit Hatgine, Manager-System Business, Ifm electronic, on automation and control solutions offered by the company for construction equipment.
What are the automation and control solutions offered by the company for construction equipment?
The demands on controllers and sensors used in construction machines, municipal vehicles, agricultural and forestry machinery,port facilities and cranes are extremely high. Units and machines are permanently exposed to harsh environments like heat, cold, moisture, mud, dust, shocks and vibrations and often even thunder and lightning.
Ifm has developed the ecomatmobile series controllers and components especially for mobile applications. The most important part of mobile machines is the mobile controller that offers free programmability, configurability of the inputs and outputs and a CAN interface with CANopen and SAE J1939 protocol.
Amit Hatgine, Manager-System Business, Ifm electronic, on automation and control solutions offered by the company for construction equipment. What are the automation and control solutions offered by the company for construction equipment? The demands on controllers and sensors used in construction machines, municipal vehicles, agricultural and forestry machinery,port facilities and cranes are extremely high. Units and machines are permanently exposed to harsh environments like heat, cold, moisture, mud, dust, shocks and vibrations and often even thunder and lightning. Ifm has developed the ecomatmobile series controllers and components especially for mobile applications. The most important part of mobile machines is the mobile controller that offers free programmability, configurability of the inputs and outputs and a CAN interface with CANopen and SAE J1939 protocol. Camera systems for mobile applications reliably monitor operating and rear areas. Camera images and process values are displayed on the user-friendly dialogue units which also support high quality graphics. The product range is completed by mini controllers, decentralised I/O modules, sensors and components for diagnostics and service. All units have robust seals preventing the penetration of moisture. An IP69K system, including connectors and cables, ensures high ingress protection from the controller to the sensor. How do you observe the growth of automation, monitoring and control technologies in construction equipment over the years? Mining, construction equipment industry may grow by 15-20 per centin 2021 but stressed that the economy, in the grip of a pandemic.The first quarter of 2021 is estimated to have reported a strong equipment demand growth of 45-50 per cent. However, the economy in the grip of a pandemic could throw up sudden negative surprises, as witnessed in April 2021, when demand was relatively subdued. While overall equipment demand will be strong in 2021, partly due to the low base of 2020, volatility in demand is likely, with a strong first quarter, a relatively subdued second quarter in the grip of the second wave, and the emission related pre-buy pick-up and post-buy slump in the third and fourth quarter of 2021.Advantage in India are robust demand, attractive opportunity, policy support and increasing investment. In the current pandemic situation, how do you look at the importance of machine control technologies? The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is causing everyone to revisit the global norms. Modern digital based machine control technologies will assist for remote working which is one of necessary measures to prevent spread of virus. Covid-19 has expedited the transition from manual processes to more automated systems, improving efficiencies in accounts receivable, remote work and fraud prevention. There could be three reasons for construction companies need to digitally transform now. 1. Gap between field and office workers is growing. 2. Productivity and effectiveness are key to delivering results. 3. There is increased focus on health and safety. In India, the use of advanced automation and digital technologies in construction equipment is still not there as per the requirement. What are the measures needed to improve the utilisation of automation and control technologies in construction equipment? The world CE is also reshaping In India as well. With growing awareness, end-users are becoming smart and demanding world-class technology for better fuel efficiency, higher productivity and profitability, Further, the entry of global OEMs is also leading to upgradation in technology-driven product features such as remote access devices, automatic controls to manoeuvre machines, more efficient BS4 engines and cabin air-conditioning. These features are gaining popularity among customers As a result, some recent product launches in excavators and backhoe loaders are featuring several additional functionalities, including service enablers such as the capability to send problem logs by SMS to the nearest service point and downloading historical data regarding engine status, hydraulic systems, fuel consumption and the expected life of critical components. Customers are also realising that increased productivity and the reliability of construction equipment ultimately translates into higher profitability from fewer defect-related claims and the avoidance of death penalties. This is also one of the reasons that the end-users are demanding highly productive and technologically advanced machines. How do you look at the demand trend for machine control technologies in the post-Covid scenario? As far Indian market is concern, we gave robust demand, attractiveopportunity, policy support and increasing investment. Robust demand: India is expected to become world’s third largest CE market by 2022. Attractive opportunity: Favorable valuation make sector an attractive opportunity. Only 24 per cent of national highways network is four-lane, therefore presents an immense scope for improvement. Regional connectivity scheme (RCS)gives opportunity for development of airports. Policy support: In Union Budget 2021 to support initiatives such as “Housing for All’ and ‘Smart cities Mission, Government has allocated Funds.In March 2021, bill has passed to set up National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NaBFID)to fund projects in India. Increasing investment: Huge investment in infrastructure (e.g.Reliance Digital Fibre infrastructure Trust) have provided momentum to overall PE/VC investment.CE development and infrastructure received significant FDI inflow. What are the latest automation and control solutions offered for construction equipment? As construction technology reshaping the CE industry in India, ifm offers intelligent machine controls that make inexperienced operators good and good operators better. We are expanding our product portfolio with all new series of ecomat controllers powered with state-of-the-art multi-core 32-bit processor with clock frequency of 300 MHz, interface with extended functionality of CAN, RS232, Ethernet, multi-functional inputs/outputs, SIL2 PLd, and E1 certifications. Ifm is presenting new series of ecomatDisplay, powerful modules for mobile machine. It has LED displays 5, 7 and 12-inch with buttons or touch screen. The special optical bonding prevents penetration of moisture, offers optimum readability and has software driven orientation (portrait/landscape). In the area of fleet management, ifm offers mobile IoT, which enables direct connection from control centre to machine on site. With Ifm mobileIoT suite software solutions, you can keep an eye on machine fleet and operating status. It helps to react to maintenance requirements in good time. This system is also suitable for fleet leasing companies and for OEMs who want to add value to their customer offer by proving high-precision maintenance and after-sales services. What are the cost-effective features in your range of products and solutions? Cost-effective is bit relative term, if any product/solution, which helps to reduce downtime of machine/process and improves efficiency, in real it becomes cost-effective, though initially cost may look higher. Our products and solutions work on similar theme. Ifm offers system solutions for fans, motors, cooling, pumps, compressors, compressed air systems, hydraulic power packs, which covers continuous diagnostics, early diagnostics, maximum efficiency and easy integration. How do you observe the growth of control technologies in construction equipment over the years? The construction equipment market in India is witnessing exponential growth for the last few years. Substantial infrastructure investments in highways, railways, airports, ports, and power will drive higher demand for construction equipment. Government spending on the development of roads, metro rails, flyovers, and commercial complexes will further boost the market demand for construction equipment over the next few years. The new emission norms are becoming key driver to the facelift of construction equipment. In the current pandemic situation, how do you look at the importance of machine control technologies? The pandemic situation may change industry’s mind-set to adopt new technologies. Consumers may demand no-touch products henceforth keeping their safety in mind. Manufacturers need to identify which stations can be clubbed or processes can be automated. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) can be looked at as an option to transport the parts/components within the factory to ensure they are not touched. Industry 4.0 will also contribute for remote and centrally monitoring processes. How do you look at the demand trend for machine control technologies in the post-Covid scenario? We hope that Indian construction market will soon be back on track and we see positive signs from April 2021. Once the industry touches regular production levels, all the pending projects and developments are expected to be accelerated.