Is there any industry that is likely to earn a profit during the economic downturn? The answer is automation. As corporate majors try to increase productivity, one way they are likely to achieve this is through automation.

Flexibility and efficiency are going to be the differentiators in order to quickly develop and manufacture an increasing number of products to meet the rapidly changing demands of the market. Moreover, with growing competition, “timing and speed are going to be vital for survival and success of the future organisation. No organisation in today’s age can survive without agility and responsiveness to changing environments. Systemic efficiencies can only be brought in and improved through automation. With companies becoming more and more complex and dispersed, there is need for efficient manpower,” says Sumit Paul, general manager-industrial, Rockwell Automation India.

Is it an accelerator?

While employees of many global companies are bombarded by inflation and job worries, the employees in the automation industry of India by and large continue to enjoy rising salaries and strong demands for their services. Automation plays an increasingly important role in the global economy and in daily experience. Engineers strive to combine automated devices with mathematical and organisational tools to create complex systems for a rapidly expanding range of applications and human activities.

India’s manufacturing sector, which is spurring the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth, is undergoing a major transformation. It is scaling up and beginning to seek global competitiveness through the wider application of automation and IT (information technology). This trend is contributing to the robust growth of the automation industry.

“Automation is a well-established technology, both in the manufacturing sector and infrastructure. India’s hope of emerging as an economic superpower depends a lot on how we groom our engineers to leverage this technology. By transferring global quality learning processes, we can convert a much larger percentage of the emerging manpower into more enriching careers,” said Anup Wadhwa, director, Automation Industry Association.

According to Wadhwa, only 25 per cent of the 600,000 available engineering graduates are ready to be deployed in this industry and efforts to increase the figure need to be made. The automation industry is growing 6-8 per cent globally, whereas in countries like India and China, it is growing at more than 30 per cent.

The five-year forecast shows healthy trends and the industry will be requiring more technical graduates— both from polytechnics and engineering colleges—to join the industry. The industry employs almost 50,000 professionals today. “This demand will be at least double in the next three years. Science and engineering graduates having an aptitude for machine control will find space for a fulfilling professional career here,” adds Wadhwa.

Money matters

Speaking of salary prospects, a fresh engineering passout may start at Rs 300,000-Rs 400,000 per annum. However, the scene is not so encouraging for diploma holders as their starting salary usually ranges from Rs 150,000 to Rs 200,000 per annum.

You could start at a junior level as part of a major project and grow to become a project leader in 10-12 years’ time frame. In most cases, salaries are proportional to the cost of the projects. Even in this time of economic downturn, the automation industry is offering a salary in the range of Rs 500,000 to Rs 1 million per annum for professionals with five to seven years of experience.

Notably, the salary is on the higher side for design section. And if you grab an international opportunity, the minimum salary may be in the range of Rs 2 million per annum within just about five years.

Groom for automation

Now that you have received enough boosters about the opportunities to be grabbed in the automation field, it’s time to explore the power circuit. The automation field is specifically suitable for engineering professionals with multidisciplinary as well as project management interests, such as project engineering. Exciting and technically satisfying careers can be pursued in the field of technical marketing, design engineering, project management, integration and servicing. And if you consider technology, I must say, wherever there is a need for process control to increase productivity, there is automation. It may be a human gene analysis laboratory or a locomotive workshop.

The main metric is grip on control. And as a professional you are expected to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to design practical control loop as per that metric. If you can achieve these, instrumentation and maintenance related solutions will be automatically on your fingertips. To make maximum use of the situation, you need to have expertise to survive in the global-quality working environment of automation.

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