Global Innovations

Ballard Power Systems has signed a development agreement with Siemens AG for the development of a zero-emissions fuel cell engine to power Siemens’ Mireo light rail train.

Under the terms of the agreement, which has a contemplated value of approximately $9m to Ballard, the fuel cell specialist will develop a 200kw fuel cell engine for integration into Siemens’ new Mireo train platform. Mireo is a modular commuter train platform designed for speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour (100 miles per hour). Thanks to lightweight design, energy-efficient components and intelligent onboard network management, the Mireo will consume up to 25% less energy than trains with similar passenger capacity. Initial deployments of the fuel cell-powered Mireo train are planned for 2021.

Sabrina Soussan, CEO of the Mobility Division at Siemens, said, “Our cooperation with Ballard is a decisive step towards replacing diesel-powered rail vehicles with emissions-free vehicles in the long term interests of sustainable and climate-friendly mobility. We want to be able to offer our customers flexible train solutions for various suburban routes, which vary according to regional conditions and technical possibilities.”

Ballard’s President and CEO, Randy MacEwen, added, “We are seeing rapid market demand growing for clean energy fuel cell technology in a range of Heavy Duty Motive applications, including trains, trams, transit buses and commercial trucks. This Development Agreement with Siemens, a major industrial conglomerate and leading global train OEM, is a testament to the overall value proposition offered by Ballard’s fuel cell technology in a demanding use case and duty cycle. In this application, fuel cells enable electrification with range, without the need for costly catenary wire infrastructure.”

Ballard Power Systems has signed a development agreement with Siemens AG for the development of a zero-emissions fuel cell engine to power Siemens’ Mireo light rail train.

ABB launches TruONE, the world’s first true ATS for critical power

ABB launches TruONE, an all-new automatic transfer switch (ATS) with connectivity and monitoring functions for critical power applications. TruONE is the world’s first true ATS to package all the necessary sensors and controllers into a single easy-to-install device that helps improve protection and makes installation 80 percent faster.

Critical power applications use an ATS to sense when power is lost and to switch automatically to the backup generator. The ATS is usually a complex installation with various sensors, controllers, switches and operator interfaces all wired together. Putting everything into a single package, including an integrated controller with detachable Human Machine Interface (HMI), the TruONE makes ATS installations faster, simpler and more reliable.

With seven communications protocols, the TruONE ATS is part of the ABB AbilityTM portfolio of software-enabled and connected solutions that help customers to be more productive, with features including predictive maintenance and condition monitoring.

TruONE ATS is the first to integrate everything that critical power applications need into one seamless unit. Designed and tested to exceed industry requirements, the TruONE ATS ensures the reliable delivery of critical power.

The TruONE ATS is simple to install, requiring only a single wire and standard enclosures. Ergonomic studies indicate this will make installation up to 80 percent faster and will cut cabling and commissioning times and costs by up to 90 percent.

The TruONE’s all-in-one design is factory-assembled and fully tested to ABB’s exacting quality standards. Protection during manual operation is increased, even under load, with the elevated handle mounted to the ATS frame so there is no need to open the panel door. TruONE is also setting the new industry standard as dangerous line voltage no longer need to be connected to the door as the detachable HMI is completely isolated from the lines resulting with significantly increased safety of the equipment operators.

TruONE is the first ATS with a built-in predictive maintenance functionality that monitors its own condition as well as its environment with temperature monitoring. This ensures that when operations need to switch to backup power, ABB’s ATS is always ready to perform.

The innovative device shares the same user interface and software environment as the ABB Emax 2 smart air circuit breaker. Its seven communication protocols provide maximum connectivity and together with the ability for cloud-based services via the ABB AbilityTM Electrical Distribution Control System, TruONE, together with other ABB devices, is making remote plant management simple.

TruONE makes critical power a whole lot simpler with less wiring and more intelligence. Hospitals, data centers and telecommunications installations will be among the first to benefit from this technology.

Automated trays at IGI for swift security check

NEW DELHI: IGI airport is planning to deploy new automated tray return systems (ATRS) at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 to increase efficiency and number of passengers passing through security check every hour. This will allow trays to be taken through security check via automated rollers with minimal human intervention. The trays will return to the starting point once passengers pick up their baggage and items.

The system was successfully tested for a period of one week at T3 for around eight days and it increased efficiency considerably,” said a source.

Sources said the system will increase passengers flow at security checkpoints by over 40%. It will be able to deliver a throughput of 350 passengers per hour, compared to 180 passengers per hour through the manual system.

DIAL CEO I Prabhakara Rao said the technology is a step forward to making IGI a digital and smart airport. “This system will significantly reduce waiting time of commuters at the baggage screening point and also lessen chaos and confusion at the security check. This is a proven technology and has been adopted by several world class airports globally.”

Officials said the machine will have multiple reclaim positions, automated spacing and tracking of trays through RFID tags as well as CCTV cameras. The RFID tags will be attached to the exterior walls of all trays and they can be scanned by tag readers.

Siemens to install state-of-the-art IGBT technology for Indian Railways

Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors are power electronics for the traction system of electric and diesel-electric rail vehicles. The technology reduces the requirement for current, minimizing heat and traction noise while also making the acceleration process efficient.

Indian Railways contributes to the enduring success of the nation’s growth story through its pivotal role in ensuring reliable, safe and secure transportation of people, goods and services. With a focus on modernization, expansion of rail networks and energy efficiency, Siemens has been a trusted partner of the Indian Railways for the last six decades.

Siemens Limited will be designing, supplying and installing Alternating Current (AC) Traction systems for Dual Cab High Horsepower Diesel Engine locomotive for Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW), Indian Railways. The systems have been developed based on the state-of-the-art Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBT) technology. The AC Traction systems will be produced at the Nasik Factory of Siemens Limited.

IGBTs are state-of-the-art power electronics for the traction system of electric and diesel electric rail vehicles. The main benefit of IGBT is that it reduces the requirement for current, minimizing heat and traction noise while also making the acceleration process efficient.

“The advent of IGBTs has yielded strong efficiency gains in electric drive technology. The project showcases Siemens’ partnership with the Indian Railways as it combines innovation with responsibility to bring together the combined expertise of its teams, that is committed to deliver reliable, safe and efficient technologies,” said Tilak Raj Seth, Executive Vice-President and Head, Mobility, Siemens Limited.

Impact of GST on the Automation Industry

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been trending since few days and it is one of the most powerful tax reforms in India. Introduction of CGST and SGST/GST plays a crucial role in the automation industry. It is a landmark in the country’s taxation regime.

Let us have a look on the impact of GST on the automation industry:

Automation industry plays a crucial role as it is one of the major economic drivers for the development of economies across the globe. A complex tax structure, inadequate infrastructure, and bureaucracy have been reducing the capability to perform well on a global scale and is overcoming the automation industry. As per the sources, the GST rate item wise list has been increased and there was an increment of minimum of 3% on all products.

Implementation of GST act can lead to experience a paradigm shift in the automation industry to and manufacture products.

Impact of GST on the Automation Industry:

Reduced Cost of Production

Implementation of GST leads to the reduced cost of production that is anticipated to be spurred by tax reduction. The advantage of GST administration in the automation industry is non-accessibility of union or central tax credit over state taxes and vice versa can be removed. Unrestricted tax credit can be taken into consideration. Even if there is 2% lower tax rate in GST it will increase the profitability of the Manufacturer by 10%.

Hassle free Supply of Goods

The new GST or CGST or SGST model will coalesce the automation industry and assist the smooth flow of goods within the industry.

Restructuring of Supply Chain Management

Three prospects of GST, an additional 1% tax on supply of commodities, the supply of goods and services to oneself and input tax credit on inter-state sale may drive the necessity for supply chain restricting.

Area based Exemptions

The implantation of GST will send out positive signals to the world and the automation industry can be seen as a unified market.

Samsung Heavy Industries Builds World’s Largest Containership with Intergraph Smart 3D

Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI), one of the world’s leading shipbuilders, has used Intergraph Smart® 3D to design the world’s largest containership for Mitsui O.S.K Lines, Ltd. (MOL), surpassing 20,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU).

With a length of 400 meters, breadth of 58.8 meters and draft of 32.8 meters, the vessel is classified as an Ultra Large Containership that can transport 20,150 containers. It was christened the MOL Triumph and delivered to the owner on March 27, 2017. The MOL Triumph is the first of four 20,150 TEU vessels SHI is building for MOL.

Smart 3D was used to execute the detailed and production design of the Triumph, as well as to produce installation and fabrication drawings, and Bills of Materials for SHI’s procurement team. Smart 3D’s Top-down Planning & Estimation and Assembly Planning & Simulation modules were also employed on this project.

SHI has enjoyed the benefits of Smart 3D since 2004, recording schedule reductions of up to three months on major shipbuilding projects, thanks to the solution’s intelligent early design features.

“Successful construction of the MOL Triumph is further evidence of SHI’s technological excellence and our longstanding partnership with Intergraph PP&M,” said Mun-Keun Ha, vice president at SHI. “Furthermore, we were able to complete construction on-time and with zero incidents, thanks to Smart 3D’s optimized design features.”

Mattias Stenberg, president of Intergraph PP&M, said, “SHI has been leading the market with optimized hull and outfitting design and record-breaking containership size. Intergraph is proud to be a technological partner in this journey.”

Smart 3D is a 3D design solution that lowers risk on today’s tight project schedules by offering high-quality designs to support the fabrication, construction and operational phases. The built-in engineering rules enable project stakeholders to make critical design decisions early on, freeing up time for real engineering work by automating design functions, enforcing design consistency through the different disciplines and all related, automatically produced deliverables. Smart 3D also minimizes costly rework by managing the changes that inevitably occur throughout design.

ABB Introduces the IRB 4600 – The Ultimate Lean Robot for General Industry

The development of the IRB 4600 responds to widespread market demand for an agile and flexible robot, with reduced weight, superior performance and improved cost efficiencies. The new robot features an ultra-wide working range, minimal cycle times and state-of-the-art path performance.

ABB Robotics, a leading supplier of industrial robots, is introducing its newest robot to the North American market – the fastest, most accurate, low-weight, medium-size robot ever developed for general industrial applications. The new IRB 4600 features twice the working range, half the weight and a 25% better cycle time than comparable competitive models and the renowned ABB IRB 4400 model that it succeeds.

The development of the IRB 4600 responds to widespread market demand for an agile and flexible robot, with reduced weight, superior performance and improved cost efficiencies. The new robot features an ultra-wide working range, minimal cycle times and state-of-the-art path performance. It can be floor- or shelf-mounted, tilted and even inverted. At a weight of just above 880 lbs (400 kg) it is the lightest general-purpose robot ever offered on the market.

The IRB 4600 is ideal for numerous manufacturing and material handling applications, including machine tending, arc welding, cutting, dispensing, assembly, palletizing and packing, measuring, deburring and polishing.

It comes in four versions: two short-arm versions (2.05 m) for 60 or 45 kg payload and two long-arm (2.50 & 2.55 m) versions for 40 or 20 kg. With its semi-shelf capability, it also has a very good reach below the base of the robot, the widest vertical reach on the market in its class, and can be placed on top of the machines.

“The IRB 4600 happens to be the most efficient robot on the market. If you are looking for a robot with the best performance, the IRB 4600 is simply the best choice. You cannot find anything similar on the market,” said Kirk Goins.

The IRB 4600 offers numerous performance advantages to comparable competitor robots:

Shorter Cycle Times: 10-25% shorter cycle times deliver increased production capacity.
Greater Path Performance: up to 50% better path accuracy delivering higher quality at greater speeds, reduced scrap and improved productivity.

Wide Working Range: with a maximum reach of up to 4.6 m and smaller wrists, the IRB 4600 has the flexibility to do the job of larger robots with the accessibility into machines typically confined to smaller robots.
Flexible Mounting: floor, tilted, semi-shelf and inverted mounting for optimum robot placement and cell design.

Compact Size: the small foot print allows placement of the robot closer to the served machines, saving space and increasing productivity.

Cost Savings: less waste, less energy and better cycle times all equate to significant cost savings over the life of the robot.
The IRB 4600 is designed to withstand harsh environments, and all models are protected according to the IP 67 standard. A Foundry Plus model is also available.


Roads that honk themselves: Smart roads by HP Lubricants and Leo Burnett India

The number of accidents significantly reduced after installation of the SmartLife poles on NH1, according to local police.


While Indian truck drivers urge others to honk, with their ‘Horn OK Please’ message at the back of their trucks, honking is usually considered ill mannered, although most Indians choose not to consider that. However, not all kinds of honking is bad, especially on a blind turn. In a quest to improve safety on highways, HP Lubricants and Leo Burnett India have come together to develop a system that involves roads that would honk. The first prototype of the system is currently being tested on NH1, the highway connecting Jammu and Srinagar, which is known for being one of the most dangerous roads in the world.

The system uses SmartLife poles just before sharp turns and hairpin bends. These poles wirelessly communicate with each other, and exchange data on incoming traffic. They gauge the speed of the vehicles and alert the drivers of approaching traffic by sounding a horn.

The number of accidents significantly reduced after installation of the SmartLife poles, according to local police. The companies are observing the system and plan to install it at other locations across the country in near future.

India ranks high in the list of countries with the largest number of road fatalities, especially driving conditions in mountain roads are very risky as there are no traffic rules followed. According to reports published by the government, more than 140,000 people were killed in road accidents in 2015.

Automakers are constantly working on making their vehicles safer for the occupants and pedestrians, SmartLife poles may be one step forwards towards safer roads. When all is said and done, a very important factor that would help in improving roads in India is by educating road users of rules, that have been placed for the safety of themselves and others.

Getting through in the age of automation and Artificial Intelligence

NASSCOM’s flagship event India Leadership Forum in Mumbai in February this year brought together global leaders on the theme, ‘Re-imagine, not re-engineer’. This clearly suggested that the future lies in our ability to innovate and automate. During the event I interacted with award winners of the NASSCOM Digital India contest and came across innovations addressing the biggest challenges the country faces in healthcare and education.

A team from Phillips demonstrated a low cost device which could transmit ECGs from rural locations to specialized health care hospitals for expert review. In pilots conducted with KMC Manipal, 380 ECGs were read, and cardiologists found 86 ECGs (22.6%) with abnormal findings. Amongst these patients, 59 were advised cardiac echo, and on further examination of 13 patients (15%), three were identified with STEMI and subject to immediate reperfusion. All three STEMI patients were treated with primary PCI with hospital door-to-balloon timing of 30, 23 and 18 minutes and their lives were saved

Chandigarh based Advenio focuses on AI (Artificial Intelligence) and CAD (Computer Assisted Diagnostics) on clinical images with conventional IoT (Internet of Things) devices to detect two of the major diseases in India, diabetes and TB (Tuberculosis). Their award winning platforms, integrate AI based diagnostic software, for diabetic retinopathy screening, and early detection of TB in order to deliver affordable diagnostics in remote locations.

SAP Labs are experimenting with voice recognition techniques to help blind students take exams. These students seek help from human scribes. They face challenges like shortage of volunteers, reliability of scribes, understanding the accent, poor handwriting. The app available provides interactive commands on a mobile device to the student who can voice out the answers to generate the answer sheet.

Innovation is critical for accelerated growth and sustainability to keep people gainfully engaged. The nature of engagement would however change with increased automation. Using machines helps in bolstering the areas where we thrive. We could witness a new renaissance where automation unlocks creativity in humans as people are freed from repetitive tasks.

There are many examples of successful collaborations between man and machine. City Union bank has introduced India’s first humanoid robot in Chennai. The AI powered robot answers customer queries on various parameters. Robot-advisors are now being deployed by investment firms to offer advice. Automated fraud detection systems use machine learning to identify behavior patterns that could indicate fraudulent payment activities. Personal money management applications deliver personal finance predictions.

     Creativity would always remain in the realm of human beings, only the repetitive tasks may get automated. Rapidly evolving pervasive connectivity and ability to crunch volumes of data enables intelligent automation.

McCann Erickson Japan announced the addition of a unique member to its team: AI-CD an artificially intelligent creative director. The robot was pitted against its human counterpart. Both were given a spot to communicate a brand message which was opened to a nationwide poll. 54% voted for the human while 46% for the robot and the human emerged superior. Amateur artists can download Pikazo, an app, which is ‘a collaboration between human, machine and art.


  As machines get integrated with humans it has serious implications in preparing society for the future. The education system will need to focus on creativity and digital skills will be imperative. Due to fast changing technology, humans will need to continuously learn new skills and embrace lifelong learning. Humans will add value by their ability to accumulate knowledge and deliver creative solutions.

British economist John Meynard Keynes in an attempt to understand the great depression had predicted a world with a better future but was concerned about ‘technological unemployment’. Automation economizes on the use of labor, generates demand for new products and services. Industrialization has not eliminated labor but created opportunities. This has been possible due to the creative abilities of humans who along with machines are innovating continuously to create a new world order.

Tech Mahindra sets lab to showcase futuristic manufacturing tech

Tech Mahindra announced on Tuesday that it had set up a state-of-the-art lab that would showcase technologies and their use to improve productivity on factory shop floors.

         The future is clearly digital. Companies will increasingly have to rely on digital tools to remain relevant and profitable. Tech Mahindra announced on Tuesday that it had set up a state-of-the-art lab that would showcase technologies and their use to improve productivity on factory shop floors.

        Known as the “Factory of the Future” lab, the new centre will showcase assets and solutions in the areas of digital manufacturing, connected machines, additive manufacturing, robotics & automation, artificial intelligence & analytics, and augmented reality & virtual reality. These technologies have the ability to amplify productivity with minimal human intervention. Tech Mahindra believes that identification and implementation of right technology solutions would be critical for the industries globally.

     “Industries world-over are going through a massive transformation, a transformation that is driven by advances in newer technologies, especially things like IoT and Robotics. As a trusted Digital Transformation partner for client organisations, we have taken the lead in these areas and have invested in building capabilities to harness the opportunities,” said L Ravichandran, President and Chief Operating Officer at Tech Mahindra.

      The lab will demonstrate solutions and products built in association with many leading software and hardware vendors. It is built in a modular form to showcase industry 4.0 concepts that are central to be able to help building the digital backbone of client organisations.

      Manufacturing or industrial segment is the one, where the impact of technology is much more visible than others. From being a mostly people or labour-intensive model in the late 80s, to adopting automation tools, software and platforms, manufacturing at presently is a greatly transformed segment. The industry is now at a cusp of embracing the next generation of automation wherein robots will work alongside humans in a connected factory floor that is powered by technologies such as AI, robotic & automation, machine learning amplified by increasing use of big data and analytics in decision-making.

      “We believe that we have the unique skills and technology depth to help our clients to be ready for Industry 4.0 with minimal disruption,” said Aloke Palsikar, Senior VP and Global Head of Manufacturing at Tech Mahindra. “The infrastructure and the assets in the lab are already being monetised to create customer-centric solutions and we already have some references while some of the customer use cases are being tested.”

        In the newer phase, technology will be the main backbone of the manufacturing industry which is expected to shed around 50 million jobs globally while at the same time improving the efficiency and productivity significantly, because of the investment in new automation capabilities.

“Advances in robotics are more than just capabilities and cost,” according to research and advisory firm IDC. “They are becoming more collaborative with an ability to be programmed on the fly and work with humans rather than sitting behind a fence doing a single task programmed for it,” IDC said in a report on Industry 4.0 commissioned by Tech Mahindra.