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‘Machine learning and Artificial intelligence is the future for automated machines’

Banagalore- based stability testing instruments provider company AMETEK India is investing considerably for the Indian market. It is observing closely the growing demands of the pharma as well as other sectors and chalking out its investment plans accordingly. Sadanand Patil, DVP- Business Development, AMETEK India shares the company's corporates plans with Usha Sharma

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Give us a brief update on AMETEK India’s operation along with the ongoing activities. Also, can you tell us about ATLAS?

AMETEK started its operations in India way back in 2009 with a focus to address the needs of the industry throughout India. We have been expanding our operations every day since then. We started with a sales and service network with a head office in Bangalore and regional offices in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Jamshedpur and Coimbatore. In 2010 AMETEK started R&D Engineering centre at the Bangalore office. Our Engineering centre is involved in product design and development activities of the AMETEK product line here. Our India market focus has grown multifold and caters to automotive, academia, scientific research, aerospace and defense (A&D), pharma, steel markets to name a few.

ATLAS, a business unit of AMETEK, is the leader in providing photo stability exposure testing instruments based on preferred xenon arc lamp technology of the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use. (ICH) Guideline Q1B Stability Testing: Photostability Testing of New Drug Substances and Products. It is also used for testing to ICH Guideline Q5C Stability Testing of Biotechnological/Biological Products, VICH GL5 Stability Testing: Photostability Testing of New Veterinary Drug Substances and Medicinal Products (Revision), and other related standards.

In addition to accelerated weathering testing, ATLAS-India has also set up natural weathering test site at Chennai. The site is characterised by a tropical climate with high levels of sunlight, humidity and temperature. ATLAS’ outdoor exposure sites provide a wide range static exposure testing for a variety of materials and end use conditions.

The company has made an investment of US$ 5.5 million for setting up a new technology solution centre in Bangalore. How will this investment accelerate the company’s growth?

The investment made towards setting up a new technology solutions centre at our Bangalore office is purely to support the application needs of our customers. This centre provides live demonstration of state of the art products and solutions, benefits to customers in various market segments such as pharma, aerospace & defense, academia & research, automotive, steel, etc, and also application support to customer for their most demanding challenges in test, measurement services. This centre is our commitment to Indian market space. We also provide trainings, technical events and knowledge sharing events to our customers at this centre. We have seen a good interest in our customers visiting this centre and leveraging the facilities. We get regular requests from them to visit and see proof of the concept of solution to their critical application.

What all solutions will be manufactured in the upcoming centre and by when is it likely to commence commercial production?

Over a period of the last 10 years in India, we have been expanding our footprint here. We have been into sales, service and engineering product design activities. But, going forward we are exploring the supply chain in the country for global requirements and eventually leading to manufacturing. We do understand that the Indian supply chain has been growing and we do have a plan to leverage this. We do assembly operations for a few of our products in India. At the moment, we are building instruments such as metal analyser and infrared pyrometer for steel and foundry industry. We have engaged with couple of manufacturing contractors to manufacture programmable power supplies and we build system level integrated solutions for aerospace and defense industry. To expand our operations we are looking at building the supply chain and taking it to the next level.

Globally, what trends do you see picking up in the pharma lab equipment segment and how will artificial intelligence (AI) change the market dynamics?

Pharma lab equipment market has been very steady for the past few years. The core focus is on the standards compliance and safety standards requirements. The market is looking at portable and handy solutions, which can provide larger throughput at minimum investments. The key compliance standards are driving this market and all OEMs are focusing on developing solutions around these standards. Manufacturing technologies have also grown over the period and gained much more efficiency in terms of automation. The automation process is driven by the computer-controlled machines and quality mechanism. Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence is the future for automated machines, where these new technologies will help in building stronger, adaptive and efficient manufacturing lines.

Why does pharma R&D need more investment influx for driving the innovation work and creating R&D capabilities?

Pharma sector is very crucial as it deals with human lives directly. Therefore, new developments to tackle new diseases have become essential and also to handle the safety aspect in parallel. WHO and national regulatory bodies are responsible for managing these safety standards and providing norms to the pharma industry. The industry needs to maintain these norms at all times. Therefore, it requires continuous efforts in terms of R&D and quality assurance to manage these requirements. Pharma industry is very vibrant in adding investments to their R&D operations. New breakthroughs in operations and testing methods would enhance the capability of these companies and improve the safety aspects.

Besides Pharma, AMETEK also offers solutions to other industries. Which sector gives you considerable business opportunities and leads against the others? What are the reasons for it?

Our product portfolio is very strong in aerospace and defense (A&D), pharma, automotive (OEM and suppliers), plastics and additives, textiles, paint and coatings etc. Apart from our ATLAS product line, we provide various solutions for the industry like force measurements, tensile strength measurement, temperature and pressure calibrators, in process analysers, spectrometers, viscometers, rheometers, texture analysers etc.

For the pharma market, India is the biggest manufacturer and exporter of generic drugs. Regulatory norms needs to be complied for exports, Atlas, STC, Brookfield provide the solutions here. In Aerospace and defense, the government initiative of ‘Make-in -India’ is helping the industry and also multi-national companies sourcing from India for global requirements. More than 12 Ametek Businesses serving the needs of A&D Industry, air technology, rotron, specialty metals, taylor hobson, precitech, zygo, creaform, prog.power to name a few. We also see a lot of investments happening in renewable energy space that is solar and wind energy. We have PV inverter testing solution from programmable power and CTS.

What the company’s plans for expansion in the pharma sector and what strategies you have outlined for it?
We start with customer education programmes which talk about international standards and compliance requirements. Understanding these aspects are very important especially for export markets and also for getting approvals from international standards & regulatory body. The next step is to highlight the benefits that our products and solutions offer to our customers which help to improve the productivity and /or enhance quality and meet regulatory standards and we demonstrate the solutions in our Technology solution centre. AMETEK understands the importance of after sales support. Our service network is spread across India and we provide installation, user training and annual maintenance contracts to ensure maximum uptime of the equipment and highest return on investment.

We continue to introduce new products on regular intervals to address the rapidly changing technological advancements.

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