In this interview, Rajesh C Bhandari, Sr MD Commercials, India, Gates Corporation, highlights on changing customer needs and how Gates is fulfilling them
Gates is a global leader in power transmission and fluid power products and services serving a variety of industrial and automotive customers. In India, it has two entities. One is wholly-owned subsidiary of Gates Corporation, USA, and the other is a JV with Nitta Corporation - called Gates Unitta. While fully owned subsidiary makes fluid power products and Gates Unitta produces power transmission products like belts, tensioner pulley, etc. It has four plants in India at Punjab, Faridabad (Haryana), Pune (Maharashtra) and Chennai (Tamil Nadu).
In conversion with Rakesh Rao, Rajesh C Bhandari, Sr Managing Director Commercials, India, Gates Corporation, highlights on emerging trends in the industry and how Gates is supporting its customers to fulfil their needs.
Of the 2 categories of products - power transmission and fluid power - which is experiencing better demand?
Both contribute equally to the growth of Gates in India - it may vary few per centage points depending upon which customer/segment is doing better at that point of time.
Facilities in Pune and Faridabad are assembly plants and they supply finished products to OEMs. While mother plant makes the bulk hose, which are then converted into finished products in the assembly plant. They are more engaged in OEM activities. Though tensioners and belts are made in Chennai, we have warehouses near OEMs to fulfil their JIT needs.
How has been the demand for your products from automotive (including off-road vehicles) and non-automotive segments in the last two years?
We have seen strong demand for products from both the categories in the past couple of years. We have launched and will continue to launch a number of products across both segments that differentiate us from our competitors. We have a growing pipeline of opportunities, which we expect to benefit once the market opens up after the lockdown is lifted.
Today the market is little dull due to Covid 19 pandemic. But, once the market starts opening up in second half of 2020, we will show better performance. Our sales team has done a very good job in terms of selling value proposition across the categories to meet customer demand.
We participate in a lot of segments. While we serve automobiles, trucks and buses and two-wheeler, we contribute a lot to the growth of construction equipment. We also supply our products to machinery builders like textile machinery, machine tools, injection moulding machines, etc.
How is the demand from construction equipment (CE) industry?
The government has been talking about huge investment in infrastructure. It will benefit us as well because this is one of the key industries which we serve. Our performance in this market has been very good despite the fact that last year was a little slow for construction equipment industry. We could improve our performance by adding new customers to our list.
What do you bring to the table for CE manufacturers?
In construction equipment industry, the need for light weighting is very important today. Carbon emission norms are coming even in this industry as they have to adhere to BS IV norms.
Gates’ new products, which we have launched, weigh 33 per cent less than earlier one. Second is we offer flexibility to customers. The engine sizes are reducing, machines are becoming compact, so you require flexible products. We offer that flexibility.
OEMs are looking for system supplier with a repute and Gates is one of them. We do entire system and we assure guaranteed performance; hence OEMs prefer to deal with us. Every year we are adding one or two big OEMs to our customer list.
What is driving power transmission products business?
Power transmission business is a very similar story. Automotive industry had to switch from BS IV to BS VI in a very short period.
Last two years, we were very busy developing products which qualify OEMs’ BS VI requirements. We brought in a lot of technologically advanced products from Gates. Due to BS VI norms, OEMs have to bring down carbon emission, which in turn means improving fuel efficiency. Our products support OEMs in achieving these objectives. So that's how we bring in technological advancement in India.
Indian customers are today quickly adopting advanced technologies and skipping generation. Given the fact that Indian customers are price sensitive, we are very competitive.
What are the key challenges faced by the user industries? And how is Gates India helping them overcome those challenges?
Technological needs of today’s customers are light weighting, carbon emission controls and flexibility in products.
We continuously add innovative products in our range with the help of our in-depth understanding of material science and engineering technologies. We constantly bringing in products which help OEMs to not just meet the regulatory requirements, but also surpass their performance needs. These help OEMs to differentiate themselves from their competitors. This is how we engage with all the key industry players today.
Has the Covid 19 affected your business?
Countrywide lockdown is affecting all industries right now. When industries reopen our operation teams will be ready to start and serve the customers immediately. Even now our commercial team have been finding creative ways to stay connected with our customers digitally. The team is fully engaged with all our customers and we are geared up to serve the customers’ need.
Our all the plants are operational with due approvals from the authorities.
How is Gates’ global headquarter in the US viewing situation in India?
Gates is fully committed to India. Gates’ headquarter has been very supportive of India as they believe in the country’s growth story which offers huge opportunity. Events like this (Covid 19) are temporary and will come and go. We have been investing in India year on year to boost local business and that story will continue.
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