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Industrial automation and assembly of products is inevitable



India is among the top 15 countries in terms of production and consumption of machine tools. The increase in production of machine tools has been driven by the automotive sector. The metal cutting sector plays a major role in the automotive industry and the manufacture of precision components. Again, low import duties have facilitated the import of CNC machines. K Jagannathan, Executive Director, Sales and Marketing, GMT (Guindy Machine Tools), explains how, as a result of this, small players can benefit from the boom in the automobile sector.
 
Kindly brief us about your company and products and services offered by it.
 
GMT, India’s leading chuck manufacturer was founded by P Venkat Raman in 1959 for manufacture of engineering products of high quality. His aim was to provide solutions to various import substitution problems. His collaborative work with senior professors at IIT Madras, resulted in the first Indian Standards for surface plate calibration. Six decades later, GMT continues to maintain its focus on manufacture of innovative products. GMT has a wide range of manual chucks, and power chucks for conventional and CNC Lathes, and special chucks to suit specific requirements. GMT also manufactures metrology equipment such as surface plates and master squares, both in cast iron and granite, as well as machine tools like lapping machines and belt grinders.
 
Share your opinion regarding the Indian machine tools industry, keeping in mind the metal cutting sector in particular.
 
The Indian machine tools industry has been growing steadily for the past 10 years and is among the top 15 countries globally in terms of production and consumption of machine tools. This growth, driven by the automotive sector in particular, has fuelled a large increase in machine tool production which, in turn, is reflected in substantially increased demand for GMT chucks, particularly in the OEM (lathe manufacturers) sector. This growth, further fuelled by the ‘Make in India’ initiative, is expected to make India a key player in the global machine tools industry. The metal cutting sector plays a major role in the automotive industry and the manufacture of precision components. Although there has been a substantial progress in the manufacture of CNC machines, a large percentage of the higher technology machines are still being imported. This is due to the fact that the industry has not invested in R&D to the extent that the West did in earlier decades for the basic precision parts of CNC machines. Obviously R&D investment will be undertaken only based on market demands. Currently, we have the technology required for automobile component manufacture. However, the factor that hits the small machine tool manufacturers hardest is the fact that all high precision components and electronics such as ball screws, feedback devices and control systems have to be imported.
 
How do you serve the metal cutting sector in India?
 
GMT serves the market with dedication and very diligent focus on product quality. As a result, the company has earned the trust of its customers and a premier place in the market. Our brand is now synonymous with workholding (refers to any device that is used to secure a workpiece against the forces of machining) devices in India. Our foray into the machine tool sector in the 1960s to provide solutions to various import substitution problems resulted in the development of a wide range of workholding devices. Efficient workholding is very critical 
to the metal cutting sector and GMT aims to provide solutions for all workholding problems for all types of components, cylindrical or 
non-cylindrical.
 
What are the factors that drive the demand for your products?
 
Guindy Machine Tools (GMT) has been the choice as an OEM supplier to several machine tool manufacturers for several decades now. We have supplied almost 26,000 chucks to OEMs in the last 10 years. Our OEM-supplier relations have been excellent, one of mutual trust and confidence. We endeavour to supply chucks of world-class quality. As a result of being the first choice of original equipment manufacturers, we have several thousand customers all over India. Chucks being a consumable, the demand is continuous, and we are upgrading our processes and manufacturing to meet this requirement.
 
Do you serve automotive and auto component industry? If yes, then how do you intend to tap this industry?
 
We serve the automotive and auto component industry, primarily, for they contribute to about 90 per cent of our non OEM sales. We have earned the trust of this sector by developing innovative workholding solutions. In fact, many of our customers get in touch whenever they develop a new product. GMT has been improving its manufacturing process continually to meet the demand for higher accuracies and close tolerances. Also, GMT believes in building lasting relationships with its customers through its customer education programmes. These programmes ensure optimal use of our products and also increase the life of our chucks, thereby reducing operating costs.
 
What are the emerging trends that are being observed in the metal cutting and machine tool accessories segments?
 
In terms of the market, there is a phenomenal increase in offtake of standard machines this year, with tier 1 and tier 2 companies placing bulk orders. Machine tool industry has been traditionally concentrated in regions around Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru, and has now started to grow in other regions, viz. Punjab and Gujarat. There has also been an increase in the import of CNC machines due to lower import duties. As a result, small players could benefit from the boom in the automobile sector. Small-scale engineering firms can now manufacture automotive components that demand accuracy, repeatability and large scale production.
 
How is the industry preparing itself for Industry 4.0?
 
The whole concept of IoT and off-line process control can result in better revenue and efficiency but as far as India is concerned, we still have a long way to go in this respect. Industry 4.0, which integrates processes from end to end, is essential for very large and distributed manufacturing operations, which does not apply to the Indian machine tool industry currently. IoT security is an issue and can cause costly production outages. Workers will require a different set of skills to work in this environment and for this reason there will be some resistance to change to industry 4.0. Having said that, industrial automation and machine assembly of products is inevitable. The advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. However, we are likely to commence implementation only if we attain economy of scale, or else our major customers require us to implement it.
 
Inform us about the products/technologies/services that GMT will showcase at IMTEX/ ToolTech 2019.
 
Our focus for IMTEX 2019 is going to be special application workholding. The list includes pull down chuck, auto indexing chuck, semi auto indexing chuck, expanding mandrel, collet chuck, quick change collet chuck and friction welding chuck. We will also be showcasing a lapping machine and metrology dimensional reference products like surface plates, master squares, etc.
 
What are your past experiences of IMTEX and what are you expecting from IMTEX/ToolTech 2019?
 
GMT has participated in IMTEX since 1975. It has been an extremely organised show at all times. Our experiences at IMTEX have always been enjoyable and beneficial to us. It is a good opportunity to showcase our special application chucks and interact with customers from India and abroad, opportunities to establish collaborations and study industry trends and competition. As always, our team looks forward to IMTEX with eager anticipation and we expect at least an equally good experience this year, if not better.
 
What are your future plans for the company?
 
Our product focus will remain on specials, both in metrology and in workholding. We are currently engaged in enhancing productivity with increased automation and processes.


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