Sajiv Nath, as an MD of Yokogawa India Limited (YIL), is responsible for the entire end-to-end business strategy and all co-dependent strategies and operations, business planning, and thereon in harmony with the global strategy, vision, and philosophy of the Yokogawa Group. He is a member of the International Society of Automation and FF. He has undergone leadership training at IMD Switzerland and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Electronics and a Masters in Finance Management. He is involved with the Akshaya Patra Foundation, the world’s largest NGO run school-meal program. Mayur Sharma talks to him for the ‘Water Dialogue Series’ of Smart Water & Waste World.
Q. Firstly, what makes Yokogawa India Limited (YIL) different than other process automation solution providers?
Sajiv Nath: Our approach of “Co-innovating Tomorrow”, and “Synaptic Business Automation”. Yokogawa’s customer-centric approach and courage to innovate makes Yokogawa stand apart in terms of the sustainable value creation for our customers. We co-innovate with customers to drive agile and adaptive management. We synaptically connect everything in customers’ organization – people, systems, data, services, and supply chain. Yokogawa’s expertise and knowledge in process automation and KBC’s (a Yokogawa company) business and domain knowledge together create solutions to support improved productivity across the plant life-cycle from management level to operations level. Yokogawa’s domain knowledge helps nurture a symbiotic relationship between operational technology and information technology and helps customers achieve true digital transformation.
Q. Tell us about the presence of YIL in Indian cities and other countries.
Sajiv Nath: Yokogawa India is present pan India. We have our customers in every corner of the country and so is our sales and service network. We are always very close to our customers.
Apart from India, Yokogawa is present in 80 countries and some of the regions are Japan, Asia, Europe, North America, Middle East, and others.
Q. What are the key market drivers for the growth of YIL?
Sajiv Nath: New technology, new product and service innovations, diversification into infrastructure segments apart from steady growth in our regularly served segments of Oil & Gas, Power, Water and Wastewater, Life Sciences, Pulp & Paper, Mines & Alloys, etc.
Q. How best you will describe YIL’s innovation in view of profit and productivity requirements to the process automation users?
Sajiv Nath: We spend 8% of our revenue for R&D year after year. We have the expertise and courage to innovate. Yokogawa has brought many firsts to the industry over the last 100+ years – we are the first to innovate Distributed Control System, Vortex Flowmeter, and Digital Sensors for Pressure Transmitters – to name a few. We have nearly 4000 patents in our name.
In the era of digital transformation, we are delivering optimum solutions through our business and domain knowledge and OT/IT solutions to synaptically synthesize people, systems, data, services, and supply chain to create sustainable value for our customers through our synaptic business automation approach.
Q. Performance, profitability, and processes are fundamental to maximize productivity in the process automation industry. Could you please elaborate on bottlenecks in this industry?
Sajiv Nath: Difficult to generalize – the situation varies from segment to segment and within a segment. Many times, optimum uses of automation and adopting the best in class and the latest technology efficiently address the process issues – including safety. If the process is optimized, performance and profitability should be rather easy to achieve, off-course the management vision and external market environment will play major roles.
Q. In the new digital age, many companies feel a little “lost” and don’t know how to deal with their digital transformation. What should be the steps to follow to face this process of digitization successfully?
Sajiv Nath: There is a reason why the industry is keen on digital transformation. This is not a fad but a necessity at least that is what the world is expecting at this point in time. The business environment is now Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (or VUCA environment as we call it). Global competitiveness is ever-increasing and everyone is increasingly pressurized to unlock value through the improvement of operational efficiency with tight compliance norms. Digital technology is believed to have the potential to help users achieve these seemingly contradictory KPIs, unlock values, and remain competitive.
Digital transformation to a connected, networked, and an integrated environment throughout the value chain is the key.
From the organizations’ perspective, additional challenges come from the aging process and impending superannuation of a large number of experts. The existing level of automation and mindset vary from industry to industry and the overall global scenario of digital maturity is not encouraging.
From a technology perspective, the challenge lies in quality and fidelity of data whereas the foundation of a successful digital journey is the quality and fidelity of data that is fed to digital systems. Highly reliable, repeatable, and sustainable measuring device classes suitable for all plant conditions can generate such quality data.
Also, the usage of data is minimal. Companies generate an enormous amount of data from various devices. However, less than 5% of those data are put to efficient use for performance improvement due to information decay and lack of reliable closed-loop infrastructure.
Even before planning for setting out on the digital transformation journey, companies need to Observe, Orient, Decide, and then Act (ODDA cycle).
The technology already in use and planned to be implemented in the future, needs to be seen in convergence than in isolation and that is a major shift of mindset toward digital transformation. The convergence of plant data, cloud analytics, and edge allow the users to experience real-time precise operational control, higher resource utilization, and improved performance. This ultimately helps users to unlock the value.
In the future, the ability of an organization to close the loop between data extraction and value creation in real-time will set it apart from others.
Q. Artificial Intelligence, User Experience…what are the main technological trends that will reign in 2020?
Sajiv Nath: Sense to Sense making is the essence going forward. The industry is facing headwinds of capital efficiency, resource efficiency as well as asset efficiency. Digital technology implementation can address all these challenges by managing capital projects, operations, plant operation life cycles, knowledge capture & transfer, and shift from schedule-based maintenance to data-driven maintenance.
Plants across the world generate an enormous volume of data and the data traffic is going to increase exponentially and so is the need for quality data. Studies suggest that 60 billion assets will be connected by 2024 and 25% of those assets will be from an industrial environment. It will be impossible to manage this high volume of data manually and make sense of those. Digital technology will be increasingly used to automate data extraction to value creation loop, such as the use of AI or machine learning algorithms.
A general data scientist will get some good sense of these oceans of data by using AI and will provide a good insight into the process and assets. However, complex plant and process will need more insight, and data need to be analyzed based on multi-directional factors such as process characteristics, physical properties of manufactured products, physical phenomena, equipment restrictions, weather, and environmental conditions. A good blend of knowledge of operational technology and information technology will be required to develop such advanced analytics.
With the ODDA approach and selecting the partner with the right kind of knowledge and experience, digital transformation will enable users to address the vital business challenges of efficiency, safety, and reliability.
Q. Despite the new possibilities that AI and robots can offer, the human factor is still crucial in all processes. What is the key to success in uniting technology and people?
Sajiv Nath: Unlearn and learn! Plant managers need to unlearn traditional practices and learn newer ways to operate. There is no shortcut to this. To sustain a plant’s operational performance, it is critical to driving knowledge capture to avoid repeat mistakes, provide continuous education, and effective knowledge transfer from the experienced workforce to digital natives and new hires.
For example, present practices in the industry for fault prevention are ad hoc, episodic, or periodic. Users are comfortable with these procedures but it does not result in timely fault-detection and leads to unplanned shutdowns. Users, even when they adopt digital technology, tend to adopt either generic AI algorithm with coding prowess or pure-play sensor technology, whereas the actual solution lies in the usage of both the technological strengths – the effective solution needs sense-making through machine learning instead of only sensing along with advanced data analytics. Herein lies the importance of human intervention in choosing the right solution which is highly process-specific. Solution providers like Yokogawa continuously work with users and co-innovate such solutions with our deep IT and OT knowledge.
As per industry estimates by labor organizations, 50% of the energy industry value-chain experts are eligible for retirement in the next 5 years. This makes the situation far more serious and makes a case for effective knowledge transfer – human-to-human in the present scenario and better human-machine-human in a digitally transformed environment.
Q. How much does YIL spend in R&D?
Sajiv Nath: Yokogawa plows back more than 8% of its revenue to R&D activities.
Q. Have you planned any acquisitions?
Sajiv Nath: We keep making acquisitions to strengthen our deliverables. Recently, we have acquired Finland-based Sensire Ltd. Sensire offers a full range of temperature control solutions, particularly in the cold chain.
Very recently, we have acquired UK-based RAP International Ltd. The RAP provides digitized solutions that support risk assessment, management of the Permit to Work (PtW) process, and governance of Control of Work (CoW) – for all plant maintenance activities. Integrating RAP’s electronic risk assessment and PtW software solutions with Yokogawa’s real-time plant condition monitoring will drive safety assurance, reduce turnaround times, and support customers in providing enhanced protection for their people, assets, and environment.
We will announce future acquisitions as and when the deals are finalized.
Q. Please share a project example for our readers.
Sajiv Nath: We have many happy customers across the globe and would like to share with you a case study of Rangitata Diversion Race (RDR) management from New Zealand’s South Island. Let me share with you the background of the project. With a growing population and increasing international demand for produce, New Zealand’s Public Works Department initiated a project in 1937 to divert water from the Rangitata River on to the Rakaia River crossing the Canterbury plains. This was a dream come true for the region’s pioneering farmers who had struggled with water management and drought for decades.
When officially opened in 1945, the 67-km long Race (Race meaning an occurrence where a fast-moving tide moves through a constriction) provided water to over 600 farms via a canal network and would improve their production five or six-fold. Taking water from three rivers (Rangitata, Rakaia, and Ashburton), the system is gravity-fed with an average fall of around 200-mm per km across the entire distance of the Race. Although the land from the Rangitata River is fairly flat, there is a mountainous section from the Rakaia river which requires water to be pumped uphill to link into the Race. This is the only non-gravity fed section, with around 28-MW of power provided for pumping and other uses in the region by two hydropower stations which are part of the overall scheme.
The race comprises of over 600 hundred farms and 25 main gates and take-offs, connected via a radio network back to the FAST/TOOLS central monitoring station at Ashburton. Covering an area of over 110,000 square hectares, this is an undertaking of enormous proportions and an area that is prone to extremes of weather (with temperatures dropping as low as -10 in winters).
RDR Management Ltd is a lean and highly-effective organization managing all the operational and maintenance requirements of the Race with a team of only five employees. During a review, the team discussed the future requirements for control and visualization in the late 2000s, and after an extensive and detailed evaluation process, they selected Yokogawa’s FAST/TOOLS SCADA and STARDOM RTU’s implemented by their partner Industrial Controls South Canterbury Ltd.
The system helped RDR in various ways. It provided them with accurate and reliable real-time operational information, ensured continuous operations and technological advantage for wide-area operations. The technology also led RDR to a wireless ethernet networking solution, made possible by the proximity of the RDRs system to the mid-Canterbury foothills. They also engineered mobile-based software solutions to account for the SCADA system not being manned 24/7 with the RDR lean approach, something FAST/TOOLS enabled through its integration API’s.
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