#pAutomator: Umesh Sakle, Hilscher India
We recently spoke to Umesh Omprakash Sakle, CEO, Hilscher (India) . As one of the youngest CEOs in the country, Sakle is keen to share the knowledge of Industrial Communication Solutions globally and is inspired to help people in India benefit from the most efficient and commercially feasible hi-tech communication solutions.
In this discussion, he details on the IoT side of the industry and shares his thoughts on the swift adaptation of customer queries.
Excerpts from the interview…
If you have a similar story you’d like to share, write to us and we’ll get in touch!
You started your career as a Project Engineer. Today you head the Indian operations for Hilscher. How do you look back on your journey?
Well, it has really been a long way. I started off as a Project Engineer, where I used to program robots for industrial applications. Here, I realized that there is very little knowledge in the Indian industry about the latest communication technologies available worldwide.
So, then I decided to help the Indian industry use hi-tech industrial communication solutions. I started working as a Product Specialist, where I was handling almost 15 European brands of Industrial Communication.
I got a very good exposure here because of my frequent visits to European manufacturers. As such, I started promoting the world-class products in India. However, India is a very cost-sensitive market. Therefore, Indian customers frequently had no other option than to use low-quality products. As such, they paid more for servicing, replacement etc.
Thus, as a social responsibility and to change India’s inertia, I decided to help Indian customers to use high-quality technologically advanced communication solutions at a lower price. After this, I worked in a different role in a European company as a Technical Manager, BDM, Key Account Manager, APAC Manager etc.
This taught me about the various functions of a company. As a result, this now helps me in my role as CEO to apply certain Lean Management and cost-cutting strategies throughout the organization. Thus, I provide low-cost technologically advanced solutions provided by Hilscher Gmbh.
What is your favourite part of your job? Any milestones or special achievements you wish to share?
In my current job, I enjoy the freedom to decide and implement strategies to run a company and team building.
There were many milestones in my career. As CEO, I have been in a role to increase our turnover by almost 10 times in the past five years. Thus, I am glad that our team has expanded in a very good way.
What’s more, our brand awareness has increased, and our product worth is well known to customers. All big automation giants, from Siemens, Rockwell, Schneider Electric, Emerson, to the big OEMs, end users, etc. use our products for their projects. This gives me an immense pleasure because for me it’s like achieving what I wanted to almost 10 years ago when I started my career. That is, providing high-class global products to Indian industry at a low cost.
What are the market segments you cater to? What are the current challenges you face in your domain?
Communication is a backbone of all the market segments. This applies whether it is factory, process or building automation. We cater to all these segments.
The current challenges are lack of knowledge of IOT solutions in Industry and readiness to adopt new technology.
We require competence in communication products, technologies and service at the edge of industrial communication technology. Because of this, we want to be measured by the success of our customers with their competitive products. So, it’s us who need to inform our customers about these new global technologies. This also includes helping them benefit from using it.
How do you help customers choose the right instrument for the right application? What are the major customer queries you need to cater to for addressing this?
Being a world leader in hi-tech industrial communication, our engineers must have wide and deep product knowledge. For the selection process, they must support customers in using our latest technology available worldwide. For that, we invest a lot in training and educating our engineers. We train our staff from India at our headquarters in Germany to help customers choose the right instrument for the right application, for example.
In this context, what are the main devices in your portfolio? What do you sell the most and on what do you get the most queries about?
Hilscher products range from PC cards, Gateways, or OEM plug-in Modules to Remote Monitoring Solutions, Real Time Ethernet Analysis Products, and Visualization and Programming solutions. Further, they also include IIOT Solutions and powerful ASICs including all main Fieldbus and Real-Time Ethernet protocol stacks.
You have solved multiple customer queries. Can you share an experience in which you addressed a critical or unique customer challenge?
There are many of them. My team and I always solve communication complexities.
Concretely, adaptation to the customer needs with a swift expert response is very important to succeed in India. For example, we communicate to Indian Customers that Hilscher now is a company in your neighbourhood. We did this by providing them local swift sale expert support.
What are your expectations for the performance of the global industrial automation market in the upcoming years? What will be the market drivers?
The Global Industrial Automation market will grow, looking at the current scenario. It’s clear that IIoT will play an eminent role in shaping Automation industry worldwide.
What’s more, hi-tech Industrial Communication is ever-changing. To cater to this changing environment, training is required at all levels. Thus, one has to be up-to-date with advanced technology and usage. Also, this includes what the technology offers. So, one has to be innovative in looking for applications.
Now, many of the plants are being modernized with newer systems. These are faster and can fulfil the new norms for information and safety. For example, we have done our bit to ensure that these transitions are smooth by providing FDT/DTM technology for all our products. FDT/DTM technology provides a single platform to combine many options and achieve a higher level of automation manufacturing.
Multi-network connectivity is an entry ticket into the global automation. The industry is quite open to experimentation.
Going forward, what would you suggest to the next generation of engineers?
We have to make sure that the next generation is better off than we are. Therefore, my advice to the next generation is to create more ways to learn, keep up with change, address society’s greatest needs.
To prepare for the workforce, you have to understand the world. In conclusion, people who have worked in some capacity for the good of society are often well-equipped to meet challenges, think creatively and be innovative.