Against this background, Industrial Products Finder (IPF) hosted a video Roundtable - titled “How to increase machine tools productivity?” - on November 20, 2020 to discuss the current status and future trends in the machine tools industry. Gates Corporation was the Associate Partner for the roundtable.
The Roundtable - moderated by Rakesh Rao, Executive Editor of IPF - saw participations of Indradev Babu, President, Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers' Association (IMTMA), and Founder & MD of UCAM Pvt Ltd; Rajesh Bhandari, Sr Managing Director, India, Gates Corporation; T K Ramesh, CEO, Micromatic Machine Tools Pvt Ltd; and Riddhish Jalnapurkar, Founder of consultancy firm Sales Insight India and formerly Head of Salvagnini Group in India.
According to Indradev Babu, President, IMTMA, and Founder & MD of UCAM Pvt Ltd, machine tools are mother machines used to produce other capital goods, components and consumer products. “Machine tools consumption is considered to be the barometer to measure the country’s manufacturing strength. India ranks 13th in the world from consumption point of view. Countries who are strong in manufacturing have good amount of domestic machine tools production. About 50 per cent of India’s machine tools requirements are met by domestic manufacturers, while rest is accounted for by imports,” he added.
The Government of India aims to increase contribution of manufacturing to 25% of the GDP from present 17% per cent. Machine tools will have to play a considerable role for India to achieve this ambitious target. “The government is encouraging the growth of manufacturing sector through schemes like Aatmanirbhar Bharat, PLI for Make in India, etc. At the same time, the government has committed huge investments in infrastructure development. All these augurs well for growth of the machine tools industry. This industry has been at the forefront of adopting new technologies like Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence, IIoT, etc,” says Rajesh Bhandari, Sr Managing Director, India, Gates Corporation, which provides high-performance and reliable power transmission and fluid power solutions for machine tools industry.
With the world looking at India as an alternate production hub, machine tools are extremely important to take the manufacturing sector to next level. T K Ramesh, CEO, Micromatic Machine Tools Pvt Ltd, said, “Main drivers for machine tools have been large volume production like automotive which requires number of parts and components that are precise and accurate. Demand comes from both original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their suppliers like component/part makers. For the country to be competitive, it is very important for the entire ecosystem - comprising OEMs and component suppliers (many of whom belong to SMEs at Tier 2 & 3 levels) - to be strong and integrated.”
Precision and accuracy of machine tools are very important for producing quality products (i.e components/parts) that go into other machines and devices. Hence, from end-user industry perspective, it is imperative to select the right machine tools for manufacturing process. “Typically, Indian customers focus more on price and less on the efficiency or productivity of the machine tools. For them to become world-class manufacturing companies, they have to invest in high-quality machine tools which can improve the output as well as precision,” opined Riddhish Jalnapurkar, Founder of Sales Insight India.
Hindrances to growth
In the recent past Indian machine tools sector has been under stress to due sluggish performance of automotive industry and Covid 19. “When demand started picking up after the end of first Covid wave, machine manufacturers faced the challenge of shattered supply chain and rising cost of raw materials with steel prices touching the roof and copper prices practically doubling. Machine tools industry typically undergoes a boom-and-bust cycle. During boom, manufacturers scramble to fulfill customer orders. On the other hand, they are not sure about the future when sudden downturn happens. Tactfully managing the boom-and-bust cycle is a big challenge before machine tools industry,” said Indradev Babu.
At present, majority of automotive sold in India use internal combustion engines (ICE). However, electric vehicles, though currently account for miniscule market share, are gaining traction and are likely to see manifold increase in demand in the coming years. Machine tools industry, which is heavily dependent of automotive sector for business, has to prepare for this eventuality.
Rajesh Bhandari elaborates, “Rise in vehicle electrification will pose a challenge to the machine tools industry as electric vehicles (compared to the conventional ICE engines) require very less components/parts. So, the machine tool industry will have to be prepared for this and look at increasing their customer base in other end-user sectors. Machine tools can be a prime mover in making India a manufacturing hub for sectors like aerospace, construction equipment, etc. Being agile and flexible always help in tiding over the testing times in a dynamic market like manufacturing.”
Concurring with him, Ramesh said, “Some segments within automotive will be fast to adopt electrification, but there are others who will continue to depend on the conventional ICE engines in the future. Also, the transition from ICE to electric will be gradual and take many years. Today, we are making components for OEMs that are consumed in India and exported. Integration of Indian manufacturing with the global supply is very important for future growth. Aerospace, tool room, packaging machinery, etc are some of the new areas to explore.”.
Raising the quality bar
Often accuracy of individual components of machine tools has big influence on quality and precision of final product. “While raising productivity is important, precision components are likely to drive the next growth phase for the industry. Components that go into machine tools have to be durable for ensuring uninterrupted production and cost competitiveness. Gates Corporation’s high-quality fluid power and power transmission solutions can help in these areas. Our products fulfil the requirements of high torque, high temperature resistance, low NVH value, light weighting, compact design, etc, which are needed for improving productivity,” explained Rajesh Bhandari.
Gates Corporation's solutions such as linear positioning, complex belt driven actuators belts, precisely indexed timing systems, high power hydraulics, etc help machine tool manufacturers to produce high-performance, highly reliable and low-maintenance machines for their customers. He adds, “Being a global company, we understand the requirements of customers very well and bring to the table world-class products which offer consistency in performance and reliability. Machine tool companies looking to be globally competitive can bank on our products to manufacture high-quality machines with enhanced output.”
There is a rise in demand for automation, better specification and performance. According to Ramesh, in India, rise in demand for automation is driven by the fact to have better productivity and non-availability of people to operate standard machinery. “The demand for incremental innovation with the use of technology (like Industry 4.0, remote monitoring, cloud, etc) for maintenance and enhancing the performance of the machine tools is gaining traction in India. To gain the confidence of customers, it is important to produce quality capital equipment - in terms of effectiveness and efficiency - and offer service support for bettering the productivity of that equipment by improving the process, tools & tooling system, maintenance regime, etc. If we can to this well, then we can sell our machines anywhere in the world,” he adds.
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