Fuji Electric: In pursuit of excellence in automation for a century

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With a legacy spanning over a century, Fuji Electric has gained a formidable presence in multiple sectors. For Fuji Electric, which celebrated its centenary in 2023, the commitment to innovation and advancement has established itself as a preferred factory automation partner. The secret of Fuji Electric’s success lies in its relentless pursuit of excellence and its unwavering dedication to pushing the boundaries of technological innovations. Leveraging its vast expertise and know-how, Fuji Electric has introduced revolutionary methodologies like Tension-Free Rolling, a game-changer in high-performance steel manufacturing. This groundbreaking technology not only stabilises production processes but also enhances product quality, setting new benchmarks in efficiency and precision, reveals Vishalkumar Vadalia, Senior Vice President – Automation, Fuji Electric India Pvt. Ltd. Excerpts from an interview:

Q. Can you describe your experience with factory automation systems? Which specific systems have you worked with in the past, and what was your role in implementing or maintaining them?

With a legacy spanning over a century, Fuji Electric has entrenched itself as a global industrial giant, with a formidable presence in multiple sectors. For Fuji Electric, which celebrated its centenary in 2023, the commitment to innovation and advancement has established itself as a preferred factory automation partner. For instance, our association with one of the leading steel manufacturers from Utter Pradesh (UP) can be best example where we implemented our Factory Automation solutions for the rolling mill successfully.

The secret of Fuji Electric’s success lies in its relentless pursuit of excellence and its unwavering dedication to pushing the boundaries of technological innovations. Leveraging its vast expertise and know-how, Fuji Electric has introduced revolutionary methodologies like Tension-Free Rolling, a game-changer in high-performance steel manufacturing. This groundbreaking technology not only stabilises production processes but also enhances product quality, setting new benchmarks in efficiency and precision.

Fuji Electric’s rolling mill control systems represent the pinnacle of engineering ingenuity, offering unparalleled performance and ease of operation. With superior speed and accuracy, these systems ensure stable manufacturing processes and consistent product quality, empowering steel mills to meet the ever-increasing demands of the construction industry.

Overall, Fuji Electric has established itself as a trusted provider of factory automation systems, leveraging its expertise, technological prowess, and commitment to customer satisfaction to deliver tailored solutions that address the evolving needs of modern industrial applications.

Q. What do you believe are the key benefits of integrating automation into manufacturing processes?

The key benefits of integrating automation into manufacturing processes are multifaceted and impactful. They include increased productivity, improved product quality, reduced operational costs, enhanced safety, faster time to market, and the ability to adapt to changing market demands efficiently. Automation also enables data-driven decision-making, predictive maintenance, and resource optimization, leading to higher business profitability and competitiveness and creates a safer and more conducive working environment for employees, minimizes human errors, and improves overall operational efficiency.

The organization, that embraces automation into gains a competitive edge by improving their operational efficiency, product quality, and responsiveness to customer needs. Automation allows businesses to innovate faster, reduce time-to-market, and differentiate themselves from competitors, positioning them for long-term success in a rapidly evolving market landscape.

Q. Can you provide an example of a project where you could successfully enhance efficiency or quality through automation?

We have executed several automation projects in industries such as Cement plants, Sugar plants and steel plants. However, at one of our collaborations with Ankur Udyog, a leading steel manufacturer in Gorakhpur, we implemented advanced automation solutions powered by our technology to drive efficiency and quality improvements in their operations. The project aimed to enhance production processes, minimize wastage, and optimize overall equipment effectiveness.

Our expertise in Japanese technology and extensive experience in global markets played a pivotal role in delivering impactful results for Ankur Udyog. By leveraging our factory automation solutions, Ankur Udyog could improve production speed, precision, and achieve optimal capacity in record 15 days whereas industry the standard for a rolling mill is 120 to 180 days.

With the help of our control systems we enabled precise motor speed and position control, resulting in optimized energy utilization and reduced wastage. The advanced control algorithms and technology-facilitated high-speed and precise production, contributing to improved operational efficiency and cost savings.

Q. FUJI ELECTRIC emphasizes innovation in its products and services. How do you keep up with the latest trends and technologies in factory automation and process instrumentation?

Fuji Electric with over 100 years of expertise is committed to invest heavily in R&D center to ensure that we bring product and solutions that solve customer’s challenges. Thanks to our robust research, development, and market intelligence system. Leveraging Japanese technology and strong R&D capabilities, we continuously innovate to achieve precise control and efficiency in our products and services.

Our R&D Centers in Pune and Chennai are pivotal in driving innovation. With over 30 engineers, the Pune Center focuses on developing UPS, solar inverters, active harmonic filters, and other power electronic technologies. On the other hand, the Chennai Center specializes in embedded firmware for AC drives tailored to the Indian environment and applications. We utilize advanced Hardware-in-the-loop simulators (HILS) to test complex embedded systems under real-life conditions, ensuring performance validation and reducing development time.
Our collaboration with experts from Japan for joint product development and training Indian engineers further enhances our technological capabilities. This strategic approach enables us to stay at the forefront of industry trends and deliver cutting-edge solutions to our customers.

Looking ahead, we have significant growth plans and initiatives to expand our presence in India. We recently established a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chennai with an investment of Rs.150 crore. This investment was part of our larger vision to become a Rs.1,500 crore company by the end of 2024. We plan to further invest in India to strengthen our manufacturing capabilities, cater to the needs of both Indian and global customers, and announce massive expansion plans in due course.

Q. FUJI ELECTRIC’s products often require integration with existing systems in diverse industrial environments. How do you approach integration challenges, especially when dealing with legacy systems or different communication protocols?

Integrating automation solutions, especially with legacy systems or different communication protocols, requires a systematic approach and collaboration with stakeholders. At Fuji Electric, we adopt a structured integration process involving system assessment, compatibility testing, custom interfaces or middleware development, rigorous testing and validation, and ongoing support and maintenance. By leveraging our expertise in automation technologies and communication protocols, we navigate integration challenges seamlessly, ensuring that systems work harmoniously and deliver the desired functionality and performance across diverse industrial environments.

Q. Safety is a top priority in industrial settings. How do you ensure that automation systems you work on comply with safety regulations and standards?

At Fuji Electric, ensuring safety compliance in the automation systems we work on is a fundamental aspect of our approach. We adhere to stringent measures to align with international safety standards such as ISO 12100 for machinery safety and ISO 13849-1 for functional safety, ensuring that every aspect of our automation systems meets or exceeds safety requirements. Our team conducts comprehensive risk assessments, including hazard analysis and risk estimation, to identify potential safety hazards in machinery and systems.

We prioritize designing safety features into equipment from the outset, focusing on preventive safety measures to minimize the likelihood of safety issues during operation. Our products and solutions undergo thorough testing and verification to ensure compliance with relevant safety standards and regulations, including standards for electrical equipment of machines (IEC 60204-1) and safety instrumented systems (IEC 61508, IEC 61511). We also invest in continuous training and certification of our team members involved in safety-related tasks to ensure effective implementation of safety measures. Fuji Electric integrates advanced safety functions into our standard products, enhancing overall system reliability and ensuring safe operation in diverse industrial environments. Overall, our commitment to safety compliance is a key aspect of our automation projects, prioritizing the safety and well-being of all stakeholders while delivering reliable and efficient automation solutions.

Q. FUJI ELECTRIC aims to reduce energy consumption and improve sustainability through its solutions. How can automation and instrumentation contribute to these goals in industrial settings?

Automation and instrumentation are fundamental in Fuji Electric’s efforts to reduce energy consumption and enhance sustainability in industrial settings. These technologies offer multifaceted contributions towards these goals. Firstly, automation optimizes energy usage by efficiently managing lighting, heating, and cooling systems, resulting in cost savings and environmental benefits. Secondly, automation promotes sustainable materials and processes, aligning with Industry 5.0 principles and facilitating product reuse, refurbishment, and recycling. Thirdly, automation enhances worker safety by mitigating risks in hazardous processes through advanced sensors and monitoring systems. Lastly, automation ensures compliance with governance and regulatory requirements by providing real-time data, accurate measurements, and transparent reporting. By leveraging automation and instrumentation, Fuji Electric improves sustainability, boosts operational efficiency, and maintains a competitive edge in the industrial sector.

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