Wednesday , 16 October 2019

Interview with : Ravi Agarwal, ‘Putting sensors on transport systems is a challenging task’

Pepperl+Fuchs India is well known for its wide range of sensors and RFID products. Ravi Agarwal, its Director (Asia–Pacific) says that the company’s long presence in India is a sign of its commitment and dedication towards the Indian market.

You manufacture many types of industrial sensors for the traffic industry such as proximity sensors, vision sensors and rotary encoders. How do you view the market for these products in India today?

Before we talk of the market as business, I would dwell on the state of automation in the manufacturing and commercial environment in India. The world of hard and manual labour and state-of-the-art automated machinery coexist in India. The differences are phenomenal. Automation in a developing country like ours cannot be wished away. Yet we must find ways to make automation improve the quality of life for all among different social segments.

We need to adopt automation with open arms in a heavily populous country like ours. Even the basics of automation begin with sensing and control equipment. So as a manufacturer of these products, we see immense potential of automation products in India. Automotive applications, railways, doors, elevators and a host of other appliances incorporate automation in some way or the other. A simple lift in commercial and residential spaces itself houses a lot of sensors, encoders and light curtains. Even for safety and security – access control for humans and vehicles, automation is used in a big way.

With many cities in India having plans to go for metro transport systems and hi-technology buses, what role do you see for your sensors in buses and trains? Any plans for new product launches in India in this category?

Putting sensors on moving equipment such as transport systems is a challenging field. Our company already has a range of products for such applications which are certified to ensure reliability and performance of automation products in such an environment. We use a lot of sensors in applications such as on-board mobile equipment, track and trace applications, fleet management and rolling stock positioning. Pepperl+Fuchs India also has a long range of RFID products which are already being used by metro systems in the country, and actively being considered by Indian Railways. The fleet management system of buses during the Commonwealth Games used the technology and our products. So we do have the relevant products needed for this segment and they are under testing before being launched for the Indian market.

What role does Pepperl+Fuchs play in the traffic and transportation industry in the Asia-Pacific region?

The basic of our range of sensor equipment and systems positioned for the traffic and transportation industry starts with inductive and photo sensors for opening and closure of doors in buses and railways. We even have Lloyd’s certified sensors for usage in marine industry – in ships and ferries. Our radar and infrared sensors have been installed in large numbers on the doors of buses. In fact, bus fleets in many Asian countries use our sensors for safety interlock for closure of doors. Our infrared sensors are used a lot in railways, gate management, road toll systems, airport passenger handling and transportation systems.

What is the USP of your products for the transportation industry?

I must say it is the reliability and performance of our products. This is derived from well proven and tested designs that give longevity and consistency to the performance of these sensors. The western countries have specifications and certifications for these. A lot of our products stand up to these specifications and carry the necessary certifications. So having these will, by itself, render the product suitable to these applications. On the other hand, one must know the applications and the necessities of this industry, and the product used must perform with features that make the transportation industry safe and reliable. For example, even a door sensor should have certain features like memorisation of thermal picture and detection of direction of movement. Only with these features can the sensors be used in the transportation industry. And I am glad to say that Pepperl+Fuchs products do have these features.

Where does Pepperl+Fuchs India see itself in the near future?

Pepperl+Fuchs has been in India since 1987 under different formats of collaboration as permitted by the government prior to allowing a 100% owned company by a foreign venture. We operate as a 100% owned subsidiary of Pepperl+Fuchs Germany since 1997-98. We see ourselves as a major player in the Indian market in future with products and applications suited to the industrial and commercial environment of the country. Our long presence is a sign of our commitment and dedication towards the Indian market which is currently reinforced by bringing in more investments for expansion of the Indian subsidiary. We are confident that the Indian arm of our company will be among the core subsidiaries of the group, and stand tall in its product segment in India.

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