Industrial Automation Magazine India



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How industry should cope with the disruption ?

During these trying times when the industry is heavily affected with economical issues came up the pandemic called Covid 19 and disrupted the industry completely. We at Industrial Automation Magazine have taken an initiative to bring the industry together and share their viewpoints so that others reading can take measures accordingly to have minimal damage.

About the industry expert

Disclaimer: The views expressed in interviews are personal, not necessarily of the organisations represented.

Dr Guruprasad Rao is Director & Mentor (Leadership Team) at Imaginarium India Pvt Ltd, Asia's largest 3D printing company. His current focus is on Life and DfAM besides technology mentoring, building Imaginarium Academy and technology partnerships across domains. Dr Rao is a technocrat with over 30 years of experience encompassing Industry & Academia. He holds BE (Mechanical) from Bengalore University, PG in Tool Design from GTTC, Bengaluru, M.Des in Product Design from CPDM, IISc, Bengaluru, PhD from IIT Bombay. For his terminal degree, he worked on Medical applications of 3D Printing. He is also currently pursuing Medical Law at NLSIU. His industrial assignments include Titan, Tanishq, Crompton Greaves and present one with Imaginarium. He joined Imaginarium as CEO and is presently designated as Mentor – Director. He was Professor & Chief co- ordinator of PLMCC at JSSATE Bengaluru, He has taught design at IISc, NIFT, IICD, JSSATE and NTTF. As an accomplished Industrial Designer, he holds, 3 gold medallions, 8 patents and 100 plus design registrations. His research interests include product design, product aesthetics, design management, 3D printing and its applications in the medical domain.

Has the present Corona Virus strain caught the world unaware and unprepared ?

Well, I think nature was always telling us but, we had not the eye to see that. A paper written
in 2007 talks about SARS and the circumstances of how the then pandemic was born. Since
then many more such indications were published by scientific community, but businesses
both in China and across the world turned a blind eye. A new mutant strain of the same virus
is now named has “CORONA New 19” or common name “COVID-19”. China also seems to
have misled WHO on its outbreak leading to this situation what world is in. The delay in
health risk advisory from WHO is very important in view of the pandemic. So, it was a
disaster waiting to happen and world, of course, was unprepared!!!

What are the implications for business in the near, medium and long term ?

As this was not budgeted by anyone, it is going hit world and India and business will suffer.
In near term, it will bring a war like situation if it is not contained by self-control. We need to
prioritise the needs of society at large. There could be stock out of daily necessities due to
panic buying. With all establishments under lockdown, this may lead to rationing of Medical
supplies, Food infra and Fuel.
In medium term, the businesses have to reboot the workforce to quick return and resume.
Supply chains could face bottlenecks due to sudden surge of needs. This could lead to a slow
start and reach normalcy in due course of 2 to 3 months.
In long term, it can impact on profit and investments. The impact on SME and MSMEs
would be more profound. Infra investments and Capex plan may need rethinking. How do we
hedge such situations in future? Automation seems to the best option.

How can governments be better prepared to handle such pandemics in future ?

We need to have a rapid response mechanism that puts up quick infra to handle such
eventualities in future. We can expect more such outbreaks in future too. So, we need a
disaster management plan and designs to support such things. Low cost medical devices,
quick test kits, ventilators and Quarantine infra are few solutions. This lockdown will teach a
lot of lessons for life. Quick supply of paramedics may be needed to the world. India can do
that with proper policies.

High accuracy thermal scanners are available but are not used possible due to high costs. Would they be more effective ?

Well, any tool is as effective as it is used. Non-contact thermal scanners will certainly help.
We need to ingeniously develop these and make it available at affordable costs. We can also
have thermal IR cameras that are more sensitive and screen more people in short time would
be a great help.

Now that businesses are getting used to the Work From Home culture, will this signal a paradigm shift ?

All our developments had their own triggers and compulsions. So, the current situation has
suddenly put us in an unprepared condition. Unlike IT where work from home was always a
norm or a perk, for manufacturing it is a great challenge. This will redefine the way we made
things. Hybrid manufacturing models with CNC-Robots and 3D printing would bring much
needed agility.

Some analysts have suggested this crisis will boost automation and make a case for Lights Out manufacturing. Your comments ?

We very much agree to this hypothesis…use of robotic manufacturing would increase. Just
think, how can we produce working from home?...Automation is the only option. This needs
a lot of capex investment and technologies from developed world. Even the supply chain in
future will have to change. We are offering medical device prototypes to help develop low
cost life-saving medical gears using our 3D printing facility. We need more such digital
manufacturing facilities.

What are the lessons from this crisis ?

We need to answer this question ideally, after fully out of the red zone. Rapid assessment of
crisis should be done at Apex level. This should send advisories to all departments to stop the
chain…we could not manage it this time satisfactorily. This needs to be strengthened
Think given irresponsible governance and late advisory by WHO, we may expect such
occurrence again. This lock down and how we mange will help us cope with the future too.
Clean workplace, clean food habits and respect to world as a society is the need of the hour.
The frugal design and development would be another important area we will get sharp with.
Responsible Media will also help to manage the crisis. The concept of home office, tools
needed beyond laptop and server connectivity will emerge. Self sufficiency in low cost
medical devices and infra would be a very important lesson. The future stores way have a
different layouts to make it safer to buy. Online buying in such crisis needs to be regulated
and make them follow safe methods to make and deliver food, medicine s and daily supplies.
The social gatherings and their risk may lead to a new way of sharing good News of marriage
or such events. An online webcast and gifting may become norms.
Children engagement, livelihood of daily wagers, psychological counselling, self-help groups
are other social aspects we get to learn from this crisis. In a way, it will make us better

#April 2020 Covid Special

To say the world is passing through trying times is to state the obvious. Also evident is the fact that for too long the world has been ignoring the warning signs of environmental degradation fuelled by human excesses and greed. But this is no time for ifs and buts, nor recrimination. Instead, the crisis should be used as an opportunity to make the required course correction to make the world a safer place for all living beings, and the ecological balance, restored. Industrial Automation invited a cross section of industry leaders to offer their views and possible course of action as a way forward from this situation, even as governments across the world and the people are trying to make sense from the still evolving scenario. To read the full cover story Please click here