Putting Indian industry in the automation mode, Messung Systems
Messung Systems is a globally recognised company in the industrial automation space. In this interview with Huned Contractor, the chairman and managing director of the company, Farook Merchant, elaborates about how the Indian industry’s move towards implementation of Industry 4.0 and the smart cities’ initiative will put the company on a faster growth track
Could you describe the journey of Messung Systems since its inception? What have been the major milestones achieved over the years?
It’s been a long and interesting journey that began with the establishment of Messung Systems in 1981. After my education, it was very clear that I would establish my own business vertical rather than be a cog in another organisation. I utilised the money I earned during my first job to invest in some components. This, along with time and effort, allowed me to develop India’s first Programming Logic Controller (PLC). Over time, Messung has emerged as a pioneer in industrial automation, providing solutions to various sectors such as automotive, pharmaceuticals, plastic, textiles, infrastructure, water and waste water management and printing and packaging. Messung Systems became renowned for its innovative products and problem-solving solutions across industries.
Over three decades, the company grew across India with over 400 employees, 65 distributors, 11 network offices, two manufacturing plants and couple of global partnerships. By 2012, Messung Systems had established a good market share in the factory automation sector in India. At that time, Mitsubishi Electric was looking to establish their India presence and took over our factory automation business. It was then time to look at newer business opportunities. Over the last six years, Messung Systems has established six businesses in three different business sectors.
Under the automation and control division we have:
a) Industrial automation with our NX-ERA line of PLCs
b) Building automation with Distech Controls and
c) Home, office and hotel automation on the KNX protocol with Zennio.
Under the electrical engineering division, we have power distribution systems with Wöhner GmbH. Under the workplace technology division we have:
a) Workplace ergonomics with Wersksitz GmbH
b) Test and measuring equipment with Erfi GmbH.
Messung also operates a couple of NGOs such as Nityaasha that works towards juvenile diabetes and epilepsy and Gyanadab, a centre dedicated to bring masses together through literature and art.
What have been the company’s product or technology contributions in the fields of industrial automation, electrical engineering and workplace technology? Could you provide a case study for each?
Messung developed India’s first indigenous PLC in 1981 and in the last three decades a lot of development has been done in implementing IEC 61131 programming software, developing our own CAN-Open interface, Ethernet interface and all this at a time in the early 2000 era when all of this was new technology. The company developed the first full-fledged solution for CFR Part 11 compliance automation solutions for the pharmaceutical industry. Presently, Messung has a full-fledged technology and research and development department to implement different strategies to beat the competition in the field of building automation or home office and hotel automation. Messung is also working with IOT-based designs both in the automation and in instrumentation sectors.
Messung will soon start its own manufacturing set-up to build low-cost remote i/o to give effective and competitive solutions to customers. It is is now entering the motion control and servo positioning sector, especially for the food and beverages market, and in the pharmaceutical packaging business. Using the knowledge of automation and Scada, Messung is now developing its own EMS to supervise and monitor electrical energy consumption and utilisation in large installations with analytics and algorithms to provide customers with AI-based solutions to save money and provide good return on investment in their energy bills.
Given the global industry’s move towards implementation of Industry 4.0, which are the technologies or products that the company is focusing on?
Messung has always focused on bringing something new and technologically advanced to the Indian market. For India, there is lot to do in terms of implementation of Industry 4.0, specifically in the manufacturing sectors, while other sectors like FMCG, telecom and healthcare have been successful to some extent. In terms of manufacturing, we need to adopt smarter strategies for smarter manufacturing. Our products and technologies are focused on various aspects to integrate the features of Industry 4.0 such as big data, Internet of Things (IOT), robotics and automation, artificial intelligence, advance analytics, etc. Our products and technologies are focused on providing these features to building infrastructure, factory automation, home, office, and hotel automation. At the same time, there will be products focused on power distribution technology and test and measurement technologies.
What kind of research and development is the company engaged in?
We are going to manufacture a large variety of electronic hardware and software products to support industrial automation and building automation needs. Under home, office and hotel automation, we custom-integrate the latest electronic hardware and software in our KNX platform to deliver superior quality automation solutions that enable users to perform complex tasks with ease. Special software visualisation products for energy monitoring, IBMS solutions and industrial Scada will help Messung to give low-cost and efficient solutions to customers.
Could you provide details about the acquisition of distribution rights for the products of Wöhner, Germany for its power distribution and control systems?
With Wöhner products Messung is entering the electrical engineering field. Wöhner is a pioneer company in the field of electrical bus distribution products along with fuse switch units and bus mounting accessories. All products made by Wöhner are based on the IEC 61439 standard, which is the best standard in the world. Wöhner products are new to India and Messung is going to add a lot of technical and marketing effort to promote this business and will soon be adding energy metering and power analysers with good EMS software.
What are the expansion plans for the next two years?
Our first investment is to establish a strong technology centre where we have dedicated engineers to work in the back-end to bring special solutions for building automation, industrial automation and the home office and hotel automation engineers. Special solutions will make the sales and marketing teams to position themselves strongly against competition and provide solutions to the customers in a direct and cost-effective way. Secondly, we want to build a strong research and development department for developing hardware and software products to help expand our market. Further, we want to establish all-India after-sales and service network with spares delivery and a product repair centre. We also want to set up a good manufacturing SMT line with high-end QC products to produce those unique electronic assemblies and products that make the entire product line of Messung cost-effective and unique. Our plan is to invest USD 2 million in plant, machinery, and research and development in the next two years.
Will the government’s campaign of smart cities benefit the company?
Taking into account the long-term vision of the government, it will surely be of benefit. But one also needs to see how this entire mission of smart cities will be implemented. For organisations like us who are providing solutions to smart cities for managing buildings and its infrastructure in HVAC or lighting, it will definitely boost our business. Similarly, our solutions for homes, offices and hotels, which are also major part of smart cities, will drive our business.
What is the size of the industrial automation market in India and what is the company’s market share?
With the Make in India initiative, India’s objective is to be a preferred manufacturing hub and at the same time be globally competitive. It is estimated that the Indian manufacturing sector will touch USD 1 trillion by 2020 and generate 90 million jobs. Creating smart factories is one of the major drivers for the factory automation industry in India and is expected to grow at 12% from 2015 – 2020 and is expected to touch USD 3.5 billion by the end of 2020. Since we have recently restarted our industrial automation business it will be difficult to provide an accurate market share at this moment. But the market holds tremendous promise for Messung and we are dedicated towards steady growth towards re-establishing Messung in the industrial automation market.