Pepperl+Fuchs: Ahead of time with technology and innovation

Ravi Agarwal, Managing Director, Pepperl+Fuchs Factory Automation Pvt. Ltd.
Ravi Agarwal, Managing Director, Pepperl+Fuchs Factory Automation Pvt. Ltd.

Q. What is the overall outlook of Pepperl+Fuchs, also brief us about company’s global & domestic presence?

Pepperl+Fuchs is a professional German company incepted in 1945 and has been engaged in the business of automation components and intrinsic safety products. Since many decades, it has been at the forefront of technology leading conceptualization of products, their development and marketing globally. It has grown multifold from its extensive worldwide presence in tandem with products and services to its respective local markets. In fact, Pepperl+Fuchs has been known for taking early initiatives, for example, the company already started developing its base in Asia as early as 1976.

Our presence in India dates back to the late eighties as joint venture companies and has been operating as fully owned German subsidiary since last twenty years. So, we can nearly claim to be on board in the journey of the Indian industrial development and era of liberalization.

Today we are operating three companies in India in line with our Factory/discrete automation products, Process Automation/intrinsic safety and a foundry which produces explosion proof boxes which are also exported to locations elsewhere to Pepperl+Fuchs sites.

In fact Pepperl+Fuchs group has considerable market share in India and spans all major industrial towns and hubs in India with its direct and extended distributorship presence.

Q. How about Pepperl+Fuchs’s initiatives in automation segment? Which are your focus areas?

Pepperl+Fuchs always has been and remains to be one of the technology leaders in the development and marketing of components for Industrial automation and intrinsic safety. As manufacturers of reliable components for industrial automation we practically work across the board wherever slightest need for automation gets applied, yet we are more focused in the manufacturing domain. We have been working principally in the area of non-contact sensors and switches, distance scanners, position, guidance and measurement systems, RFID, vision systems and intrinsic safety.

The salient aspect of the Indian manufacturing scenario remains that one can encounter very primal ways of manufacturing to the highest end cutting edge technology being used in same geographical locale. We proudly serve our Indian market with the equal gusto and sincerity. We remain to be very market oriented and play our part in customer education and provision of the right solution towards appropriate automation to all segments within India.

Q. What are the market opportunities for your products in India? How do you plan to position these products?

The best part of the Indian market is that it is always willing to listen, try out and create very unique and local value system. The best part is that apart from some very simple and generic solutions, this market absorbs the very latest solutions being simultaneously launched in the west with equal ease and competency. Our customers are always eager to be able to know and learn more and apply the very latest products for better and more productive automation solutions. The market for our products in India has always been there and is ever expanding and interesting.

Owing to India being an English speaking and rather an open country, it is able to host most of the international companies along with local. So the product positioning becomes highly competitive and demanding. That brings tremendous advantage to the Indian customers who now get the best in the world at their doorsteps at hugely competitive rates and the best of services.

Q. What is your marketing strategy for Indian market?

In tandem with my answer to the last question, the spectrum of demand from the Indian market makes our offering very interesting and keeps us on our tows. Since we deal with engineering products, product reliability and aptness remains to be the key to appeal to our customers.

The very origin of our products and technology being German, it makes our task somewhat easier as each and every of our products is built with reliability as the central thought. To fulfil the other half, we have an army of engineers who ensure that the products are applied properly and land solutions per the desire of our customers.

Pepperl+Fuchs Q. Can you please elucidate the contribution of R&D in the success of the company?

Pepperl+Fuchs has been standing strong through multiple decades out of one very strong reason. We own the technology behind our products and are working on it on continuous basis. In fact a large part of our earnings have always been ploughed back to develop new technology and products to drive the future and improve the customer experience. The company holds many patents and is known for its R&D initiatives for long. In fact all our worldwide experiences and market demands are continuously channeled into our own company R&D forums where there is perpetual churning of ideas and products to be of consequence to our customers and market.

Q. Brief us about the quality policy for the business?

I guess being a German company, quality isn’t an external virtue or aspect on the top of our products or processes but rather the very DNA of how we work, design produce and be the name behind our products.

We have numerous checks and balances throughout our business processes, documentation and production processes which are under continuous monitoring, improvement and subject to in house and third party audits. In fact since most of our products are supposed to work 24X7 in industrial environment our quality compliance in design and production is the very key to our survival.

Q. Can you brief us more about Pepperl+Fuchs’s top line product range?

Pepperl+Fuchs has patented “Time of Flight” (TOF) based “Pulse ranging Technology” (PRT) solutions. We are able to measure the time taken by a pulsed beam of LASER light to come back after reflection from its destined/circumstantial target. Using this as strength, Pepperl+Fuchs has drawn out an advanced range of scanning system that has become a boon to the industrial measuring, positioning and detection system. This has opened doors to yet another facet in industrial automation technology bringing viability and accuracy which was needed yet elusive to many a solutions. It holds a bright future and we can’t stop thinking and talking about it.

Further, an entire generation of products and technology is coming to the fora through the tenets of Industry 4.0. In fact Pepperl+Fuchs has registered the term Sensorik 4.0 in the same league. Certainly the future holds a lot of excitement as the story unfolds.

Q. What do you think are the strengths of automation industry & How it is positioning itself against the global market?

In the current times of resource crunch, need for optimization, reduction of waste, demand for speed and quality, I guess there is no way around automation. It is a big enabler in all kinds of manufacturing and scenarios.

I would also like to mention that automation is also the one that breaks the intra global barriers, creates markets, and enables uniform production. One can produce the same product with same quality near the point of consumption irrespective of its locale of genesis. It is also a big equalizer.

Q. Please highlight Global perspective of automation industry and what is the differentiating factor?

As articulated earlier, Further to the Automation Industry being a big enabler, equalizer it is perhaps becomes the need of our modern day being. It is no more some external arcane world but automation has imbibed itself deep into our everyday life.

It ensembles safety, security, viability in all things around us. A modern car, modern home, modern classroom – nothing is left untouched. The biggest differentiation it creates is that it again “Enables” where human intervention, material constraints, speeds, volumes become a limiting factor. It gets things done by overcoming these limitations.

Q. What are the key technological trends that are driving automation industry?

The hype and content of what is moving in the automation and the manufacturing industry is IIOT/Industry 4.0 or its any different avatar we may call. Our environment to come or what is already dawning is that our products, processes rather everything we do is going to be interconnected. Then comes the cloud in its different magnitudes, big data and so forth.
So principally, everybody wants to stay abreast and why not because it is going to be a game changer and the very anvil on which future success or shaping up of things would matter.

Q. According to you what is the forecast for the Indian automation industry?

Indian automation industry should and would be a big enabler in India. Given our demography – we can get the fillip within local economy through appropriate automation. We can avoid wastage of food, provide better rates for crops and yield, reduce our energy consumption, better penetration of health and education, resource management, reduce pilferage, reduce pollution, increase safety/security and services, decentralize production and many more.

Further, there exists a tremendous potential of our human capital that can be deployed globally for implementing automation elsewhere. Our young potential manpower can be suitably trained for the same. Past trends have shown that this can be a big win for all.

Q. According you what are the factors affecting to your business?

Since we are a company associated with automation in manufacturing, the state of manufacturing or its growth have tremendous influence on our business. Further, what is the extent of automation, speeds and volumes in manufacturing has a direct impact on automation and therefore involves us.

Q. What are the issues you need to address that are related to automation industry?

Limiting myself to India, as an engineer I would like to stress on implementing appropriate automation with the right and apt equipment to be something that needs to be addressed for providing lasting solutions to manufacturing challenges. Further, proper knowledge, awareness and correct attitude towards upkeep and maintenance of our plant and machinery is something I find as a gap. Lack of diligence or shortcuts on quality of equipment and production process never pays.

Personally speaking – I would like automation to help in creation of a better India with the necessary muscle in manufacturing and be of consequence to our populace.