Indian manufacturing space has witnessed an accelerated integration of technology and automation

Sridhar Dharmarajan, Executive Vice President & Managing Director of Hexagon India, shares his views with Telematics Wire about the role of Hexagon in automotive sector and connected vehicle ecosystem in India

Q: Can you briefly share about Hexagon’s business activities in India?

The Indian manufacturing space has witnessed an accelerated integration of technology and automation and Hexagon has dived in headfirst to try and provide intelligent ‘phygital’ (physical + digital) solutions to enable this. Our solutions span industries such as Ground vehicles, aerospace, Systems Dynamics and ADAS, Acoustics, CFD, Machinery, Manufacturing and Education.

As a global leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions, our focus has been on putting data to work to boost efficiency, productivity, and quality across industrial, manufacturing, infrastructure, safety, and mobility applications. Our technologies are shaping urban and production ecosystems to become increasingly connected and autonomous ensuring a scalable, sustainable future.

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence provides technologies that enable manufacturers to improve quality and productivity. Its solutions for design and engineering, production and metrology allow customers to work with speed and confidence, shaping smart change in manufacturing to create agile, data-driven processes and enable smart factories.

Last year, we announced our collaboration with CMTI for a Smart Manufacturing Centre for innovation and incubation. MSMEs can use the facility to explore smart manufacturing, thereby giving them the confidence to go back and use these technologies in their factories. This is certainly a game-changer for us since it allows us to play a role in furthering India’s goal of increasing GDP contribution from manufacturing. In addition, our ‘Your challenge, our solution’ campaign was a successful one where we solved challenges thrown to us by our customers to show them how our technology can resolve their challenges. We have also taken some active steps to help shore up indigenous R&D in India’s defence sector.

Q: Where do you see Hexagon in the automotive sector in India?

Hexagon is working closely with the automotive OEMs and component manufacturers in India to help them get the product right the first time and reduce the time to market by making the manufacturing process intelligent. Hexagon plays across the breadth of the automotive lifecycle right from design, production, quality, and measurement. Also, we have been able to bring our experiences from leading global automotive companies to Indian automotive companies by providing consultancy right from the design to the prototyping stage.

With traditional manufacturing, automotive companies typically produce 50 to 100 prototypes of a particular vehicle, before commercializing one of them. Smart manufacturing can reduce this number to 10% or less. Through technology, manufacturers can simulate the entire process digitally, rectify the problem areas and then replicate it in the physical world. Not only does this reduce the margin of error and improve overall operational efficiency, but it can also save on expenses, considering that the cost of prototypes is huge. This is especially crucial for EV development given the fast pace of EV technology evolution and the fact that it is a relatively new industry.

Q: What is your view about the connected vehicle ecosystem in India? What are your views about autonomous vehicles running on roads in India?

There is a perception that autonomous vehicles may not be feasible in India given the unpredictability and chaos often associated with Indian roads. However, given India’s massive scale, complexity and breadth of use cases, cracking the autonomous vehicle puzzle in India means cracking it for the world.

The diverse automotive ecosystem in India spans various automotive OEMs that play in the passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle, and off-road segments and tier 1 and tier 2 automotive suppliers. It also includes technology providers such as engineering service providers, disruptive start-ups, homologation agencies, HD map providers, and semiconductor companies. India is already a hub for R&D in autonomous vehicles and ADAS. All major automotive players have their largest centres here in India. India also has perhaps the largest volume of trained engineers in the world.

Hexagon has been working closely with the Indian automotive ecosystem including government bodies and regulators to help shape the future of autonomous vehicles in India. In addition to automobiles, there is considerable opportunity for autonomous vehicles to be used in more predictable environments such as agriculture, logistics etc.

Q: Do you think connected and autonomous vehicles could help reduce the cost of logistics and transport in India from its current level?

There is potential for autonomous vehicles to be used in the logistics industry in India. They can bring several advantages such as 360-degree visibility which could help reduce accidents and improve traffic efficiency.

Also, self-driving transport vehicles can be built not just to transport goods but also to combine other process steps such as loading and unloading to increase the overall efficiency of an entire process.

Q: What are your views about start-ups in automotive? Any specific area where you think startups could look into?

The Indian automotive start-up ecosystem has been buzzing with activity to leverage the immense opportunities at play. So, there is tremendous scope in areas such as two-wheelers, transport and logistics etc. The popularity of EVs throws up several allied opportunities such as EV batteries, charging ecosystems etc. to name a few.

Views shared by: Sridhar Dharmarajan, Executive Vice President & Managing Director of Hexagon India

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