Industrial Metrology in Indian manufacturing is going through a transformation, and the pandemic made the adoption of digital technologies faster. Vikram Vilasrao Salunkhe, Managing Director of Accurate Gauging & Instruments Private Limited one of the authorities in the Indian industrial metrology sector talks to Machine Maker about Quality4.0 introduced by his company, and the changing data-driven manufacturing, and automotive industry.
Typically, there was very little application of automation during the pre-COVID times. The customers used to invest in manual or semi-automatic systems. But people have realized the uncertainty of the workforce on the shop floor. The pandemic has been a point of transformation for industrial metrology too. “If one has to run the production units seamlessly then there is a definite need for investing in automation, as a result of that, we are seeing customers opting for fully automatic stations”, shared Vikram Salunkhe.
Pune based Accurate Gauging and Instruments has already delivered automated transmission casings for Jai Hind Industries where about 112 parameters of the casing are checked within 45 seconds. “It is not just automation but connecting the measurement feedback to the machining process which is the IoT part of the automation. The output from the measuring system is very important to understand if any intervention is required to continued quality adherence.”
The measurement systems are looped back to the CNC controller to automatically create tool ware compensation and initiate the corrective protocol without any human intervention. Mr Salunkhe believes that IoT has the biggest impact on metrology because having realistic production data is an important parameter for the entire process; therefore, more integration is expected in the quality systems of the companies.
Quality at the Core
In the past, the production units were like isolated islands. Going forward, the measurement data will play as an integrator among the elements of traceability, preventive and corrective actions. Mr Salunkhe observes, “All these are possible if one has an archive of online data. And there is a significant increase in interest among the companies to implement. Accurate Gauging has tied up with Italian company Blulink and has successfully implemented the quality module software which is a Quality Management System tool. It leads to integrate all the data on the shop floor and generate compliance reports etc. More of such tools will be deployed in various customer organizations.”
Accurate Gauging has also launched a package of solutions called Quality 4.0, an emphasis on Industry 4.0 from a quality aspect. “Automation, IoT and QMS are what we consider as Quality 4.0, the next-generation quality system. It will help one to make fact-based decisions. We are doing a lot of work in this space with foreign and local partners,” Mr Salunkhe adds.
Vikram Salunkhe points out some key changes that have happened on the shop floors. The production capabilities have increased, the tolerances have become tighter and the intention to produce a zero-defect product is now across almost every industry. As a result, that measurement systems have become an integral part of the production process. Now the production person is also responsible for the quality activities and companies are more aware.
India to emerge as a major source for auto components
Another aspect is that the Indian auto component makers being a part of the global supply chain, the risk of components getting rejected due to no compliance of quality is extremely high. Therefore the solutions deployed by Indian companies are comparable to anywhere else in the world. Now automated gauging systems are a part of any manufacturing process. “Today Indian metrology companies are presenting their solutions at international platforms and exhibitions. Earlier they were dominated by companies from the west, then the Chinese began to arrive, and over the last couple of years several good Indian companies are also participating,” adds Mr. Salunkhe.
The automotive segment in India is divided into two parts, the OEMs and the auto component industry. Vikram Salunkhe believes that despite challenges the auto component industry has been holding its forte and India is gradually becoming a major source of auto components. The pandemic has slowed down the OEMs but they will slowly pick up the pace.
“What has changed is the market”, adds Vikram Salunkhe. “Due to restrictions on physical presence, it is more important we work in the areas of Digital Quality Management. The data which are coming from the production machine is transmitted and shared right up to the end of the value chain. This segment is going to be particularly important. We also see a lot of emphasis on virtual audits and also to do system-based audits. Now customers are looking at the data from their suppliers than making physical visits to the companies. This requires a lot of interfacing of the equipment and new systems to be implemented to enable measurement data to flow through in the entire decision-making value chain. So, we are moving towards Digital Quality Management.”
Government Policy & Upskilling Workforce in Metrology
Many of the indigenous metrology products are of higher quality as compared to their foreign counterparts, thanks to the high skills of Indian manufacturing. But especially with government tenders, the challenge is that many of the specifications are asked in the line of foreign companies, though unintentionally. This is more prevalent in the public sector because of the limited exposure.
“This prevailing notion that items coming from abroad are of superior technology needs to be addressed,” Vikram Salunkhe observes. “The policy of the government is a very bold one. But again people try to bypass the policies. Sometimes it takes a long time to justify why an item should be considered as a preferential purchase. The intention is already there but it will take some time to witness the effectiveness of the policy.”
Accurate Gauging has also associated itself with industrial training. Mr Salunkhe says, “Since the pandemic outbreak last year, we realized that there is going to be some off time and given the customers were in the learning mode. We started various initiatives to ensure knowledge is disseminated within the industry. Since April last year, the company held training courses on topics like basics of metrology, a correlation on CMM and understanding Measurement Systems Analysis. In the first session, we trained three thousand customer representatives. The participation was phenomenal, the attendees nominated their colleagues and thus it went on growing. It was very rewarding for us too.”
The indirect effect is that the company’s enquiry flow has also increased subsequently and Accurate Gauging will take this forward. Even before the pandemic, the company had launched the Operators’ Skill Certificate Program in collaboration with a European skill certifying company. Mr Salunkhe says, “Equipment and its features are one part of the story, but the operator knowledge and skill is a bigger part of metrology. The more the organizations invest in training, the greater the benefit they will get. It is an absolute necessity. No IoT solution can take away the knowledge-based well-informed decision-making ability of a person.”
Vikram Salunkhe often takes time to contribute towards the empowerment of the society, as well as the total ecosystem development of the manufacturing sector. He was the Vice President of one of the oldest chambers of commerce in India Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, (MCCIA) – established in the year of 1934. He believes innovation and adoption of technologies can transform India into the global leader in manufacturing, the path he chose for Accurate Gauging & Instruments.