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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019

Startup Saturday: At MCCIA’s Innovation Conclave Gadkari cites power, logistics, capital as prime factors for Industry 4.0

The second Innovation Conclave, organised by MCCIA, in collaboration with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fürInternationale Zusammenarbeit), laid bare the challenges and the demands Industry 4.0 is set to face in India, Maharashtra and Pune

pune Updated: Nov 16, 2019 15:22 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
Nitin Gadkari, Union minister of road transport and highways, and MSMEs, at the Innovation Conclave at the Hyatt on Friday.
Nitin Gadkari, Union minister of road transport and highways, and MSMEs, at the Innovation Conclave at the Hyatt on Friday. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
         

The second Innovation Conclave, organised by MCCIA, in collaboration with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fürInternationale Zusammenarbeit), laid bare the challenges and the demands Industry 4.0 is set to face in India, Maharashtra and Pune. Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for road transport and highways, and SMEs, held the government view, while a cross-section of top management, founders and startup evangelists took the stage to offer the overview. Excerpts

In response to the question, There is a lot of talk about the economy and what the governnment should do, but what can we (MCCIA) do, to give more traction to the economy?” Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for road transport and highways, and SMEs, replied:

“The MSME sector contributes 29% to GDP and we want to take this to 50%. Exports from this sector are at 50% and we want it to grow to more than 60%. The government has discussed this with the finance ministry and we have zeroed in on three areas: Logistics, Capital and Power. If we provide better infrastructure, our belief is that this will boost growth in all sectors.”

Power

Gadkari said, “If we put solar panels on factory rooftops that get connected to the grid, then that can vastly help reduce the cost of power, as well as reduce pollution.”

Logistics

Explaining that roadway transportation costs Rs 10 per km, while railways costs Rs 6 and waterways cost Re 1, the government is working on several initiatives to create a water transport network. “We have built 40 river ports and have started work on the Varanasi to Haldia waterway, and from Chennai via Kochi to Mumbai. In addition to this we have also been looking at using alternative fuel, like methanol kits, for barges.”

Building the roadways network is a huge part of the government’s plan to reduce the cost of logistics.

Gadkari says: “One truck travels 200 km per day, we want to increase that capacity to 400-500 per day. We are in the process of building 22 green highways and cutting the distance from Delhi to Mumbai by 220 km. This will help increase the number of trips a truck driver will make on this highway. All these initiatives will take about two years to have an impact.”

Capital

With regards to improving access to capital, Gadkari cited the example of the leather industry.

“The leather industry produces goods worth 1,35,000 crore per annum, of which Rs 45,000 crore is exported. Exports can get better if there is access to better technology and skills. Interest on loans for this purpose can eat away at the business, so to work around that we have decided to provide loans in dollars, so that the interest cost can come down and boost exports,” he said, adding, “The government has a good digital database with the online GST and tax filings. It aims use this digital database to provide credit ratings to companies that can further improve access to capital.”

Innovation is not just about ideas

Dr Anil Kakodkar, chairman, Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Centre, said “Ideas are aplenty. What is needed is to know how to sift from different ideas, identify the potential and have the wherewithal to bring them to reality.”

Kakodkar observed that technology may be developed in the lab, but how to convert it for market use is a different story.

He felt that organisations such as the MCCIA should act as facilitators to the conversion of such technologies.

The other issue he has seen is that, “People who work on innovations are sometimes entrepreneurs themselves or need to engage with entrepreneurs to take their innovation forward. There is a dearth of confidence that both parties have and building such confidence in both the entrepreneur and the innovator is what’s needed to take technologies forward.

Anil Kakodkar, chairman, Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Centre at the Innovation Conclave on Friday.
Anil Kakodkar, chairman, Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Centre at the Innovation Conclave on Friday. ( Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO )

Medical product innovation

Dr Anil Kakodkar’s example of innovation

“India imports Rs 40 crore worth of medical devices every year. More than a decade ago when I visited the Tata Memorial Hospital I saw that the teletherapy machine they used was imported. In addition to that it’s cost increased by more than seven times in two years. So we took it upon ourselves to find ways to make that machine.

“And it resulted in the BhabhaThron - India’s own teletherapy machine that operates at a fraction of the cost. In fact, not only has t brought down the prices of the treatment, but is widely used in the country and is also being exported. It is important that indigenous innovation work towards bringing down import burden on the country.”

“Shared infrastructure like labs, testing etc and an industry academia connect will go a long way to boos innovation in the country.”

Industry 4.0 - smart manufacturing

While the world is agog with the prospect of Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing the MSME sector has a few reservations about it. Chief among them being the aspect of cost it will add to operations, talent it will need and the displacement of labour. Here is what industry innovators have to say:

Arvind Chinchure, CEO QLeap Academy

“Maharahstra aims to become a $1 trillion economy in five years. Manufacturing contributes 16% to 17% to the GDP while in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia it is 20-30%. If we do not invest in smart manufacturing practices we will simply not be able to compete on the global platform.”

Yogesh Zope of Bharat Forge

“It is a myth smart manufacturing needs a lot of investment. What it needs is a mindset. As an SME you should not worry that you will not be able to solve Industry 4.0. What you need to get right is the reskilling of people which is what we did at Bharat Forge.”

Amit Bhingurde, CEO Brabo Robotics (Tatas)

“In 1999 we had 200 robots on our Indica line that could produce a car in 105 seconds. But, the car developed problems and we realised that it was on account of the components we got from MSMEs suppliers. They could not afford a robot. So in 2001 we thought of building an Indian robot that people could use rather than have a robot that would do away with people’s jobs. The jobs they were designed to do were “3D”, i.e. dull, dangerous and dirty. We, along with Jain Robtics from Kerala, have already built a robot that can clean manholes that kill more people every year than even our borders do. Up to 2017, there are more than a 100 Brabos working in Indian factories.”