1-4 April, 2015, BIEC Bangalore, India 
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Automation: Triggering growth

Technologies to improve business efficiencies and competitiveness…
The globalisation of the Indian economy has exposed the domestic companies to the free market dynamics. With no protection from the state, these companies are learning to be more efficient and are re-engineering the business processes to compete with the global businesses. Among other things, deployment of IT has been extensive in the better-managed companies and the one field where it is being successfully deployed is the management of the supply chain. This has brought the focus on the Automatic Identification and Data Capture technologies, which in several companies is integrated with the ERP/ EDI applications.

The entry of MNCs and the retailing shifts have also contributed to a higher use of barcoding and auto id technologies. The killer application for these technologies, however, is expected to be in the field of e-governance with not only the central and state governments adopting the technologies in ID projects and driving licenses etc., but also local administrations like municipal corporations and village panchayats expected to use the technologies to stream line administration.

The AIDC industry that includes Barcodes, smart cards, RFID, biometrics and EAS is probably the fastest growing segments of the economy anywhere in the world. Though the base is still small in our country, the over 40 percent growth that is taking place year on year is increasingly becoming significant. The incremental growth is large enough already to catch the eyes of the largest global players. The factors that drive the domestic requirements all indicate that the demand itself will ensure the present rate of growth in the years to come. If the Indian industry can leverage its IT strengths and grab the opportunities that are coming its way, it is not inconceivable that India can be a major hub to provide the software, integrated solutions and finished products in these fields to the entire world.


Barcodes
The barcode industry is around Rs. 2.5 billion and is growing at over 30- 35 percent every year. The hardware- Printers and scanners contribute equally to the 50% of this turnover while the consumables- tags, labels and ribbons contribute 35% and the services account for the rest. The industry has around 50 players with 5 large players having a turnover of over Rs. 100 million. There are other 10 companies that have turnovers of between 50 - 100 million. The major international suppliers- Symbol , PSC, Metrologic & Unitech for bar code scanners and Zebra, Intermec, Printronix, Sato, Toshiba & Datamax for barcode printers have their presence in India. Ean India, an affiliate of Ean International has played a large role in creating awareness about barcodes while developing and implementing standards across the industry. AIDC Technology Association has helped organize the industry by forming this association of all stakeholders of this technology.

Courier and logistic industries are the active user of barcodes. The auto industry uses barcoding for auto data capture of information about its materials and supplies during receipt, storage, Work in progress (WIP), dispatch and sales operations. In retail sales of auto parts spares and accessories, this is used to facilitate stock control, track and trace, consumption forecasting, etc. Pharma and healthcare are another large user of barcodes. They are used effectively to track distribution of the drugs in the market place and to recall them if necessary. They are also used provide quality service by tracking expiry dates of medical supplies, patient identification and billing, hospital stock management and order replenishment etc. The largest growth segment is however, organised retail. The use of barcodes is already well established in major retail sales institutions. The proliferation of malls and food bazaars is driving the growth in this segment. Logistics contributes around 10% of the barcode industry. Retail contributes around 40% and nearly 50% comes from all other industries like auto, pharma etc.

Smart Cards
Over the last few years, the awareness of smart cards and its applications have gradually increased among the potential users in India. Significant growth has taken place in wireless cellular applications, retail loyalty applications, healthcare applications and driving license and vehicle registration applications. Several pilot projects have also been implemented for multi-application campus cards, banking, ID, automatic fare collection, toll, healthcare, etc. With the smart card market expected to grow from the current base of 40 million cards to 400 million cards in the next few years, both Indian as well as foreign smart card companies are showing keen interest in this market.

Schlumberger, Gemplus, G&D, Obethur, VCT and Orga are the globally recognized card manufacturers who also dominate the Indian market. Shonkh, Rolta, Smartchip, CMS, Siemens (SISI), CA Satyam and E-Cube are the major system integrators. STMicroelectronics, Philips, Infineon, Reneseas and Atmel are the chip manufacturers who are already present in the the country.

Though the SIM card market has driven the growth in the last 5 years, the rate of growth in banking and retail sector is expected to be larger in the coming years. The usage in the transport and health care sectors is also expected to increase. However, the industry is looking at the government usage and the much-touted national ID project for a spiraling growth in the next few years.

Biometrics

As both the private and Government sector organisations search for more secure authentication methods, they increasingly become aware of biometrics as the killer technology for near foolproof security. It may not be long before all password and card based systems currently in vogue get replaced with biometric devices. The little over Rs. 1.5 bn market in India is growing at anywhere between 70- 100%. While there is a growing demand for both physiological and behavioural biometrics devices, fingerprint recognition is the current hot favourite. Lack of infrastructure, standardisation in the industry, high costs and duties are the impediments in the growth of the industry. Most of the biometrics hardware is being imported from USA, Germany, Israel and in recent times from China. Indian manufacturers are also getting into the act with some fingerprint scanners now being made available in the market.

RFID

Worldwide, RFID is being driven by an electric mix of researchers and businessmen of Indian origin and provides an unprecedented opportunity for the country to export services and software. The technology whose applications are limited by ones imagination is primarily finding use in fleet management, inventory and asset management, warehouse automation, asset tracking, quality control, packaging, security and access control, hazardous material management, advertising and promotion, delivery and smart card -based payment systems. The application is happening in many industry segments but still the areas of focus are retail and supply chain management. The technology has got a new impetus with the emergence of Electronic Product Code (EPC), a set of standards that weaves basic RFID technology into a numbering scheme as they move across the business supply chain. As the benefits of the RFID-EPC technology become evident, more industries are investing their research effort into product development to lower the cost of RFID tags and weed out the teething problems. With its highly skilled workforce and strong IT base, India is a natural choice for firms engaged in RFID product development. India is also being used as a center for executing RFID implementations for the entire Asia-Pacific region. The country by itself is also a huge market for RFID solutions. Already, the interest in the technology is evident with the Indian pharmaceutical, defense and export sectors being the early birds in exploring its use. As a part of the supply chain for multinational corporations, the Indian companies are also expected to adopt the RFID-EPC technology.