Increased imports of welding equipment has negative impact

Welding today is applied to a wide variety of materials and products, using advanced technologies such as lasers and plasma arcs.
Increased imports of welding equipment has negative impact
Welding today is applied to a wide variety of materials and products, using advanced technologies such as lasers and plasma arcs. The future of welding holds even greater promise as methods are devised for joining dissimilar and non-metallic materials, and for creating products of innovative shapes and designs. Welding operation is most critical operation of any manufacturing process, and quality of welding has direct impact on quality of final product. Joining technology is an integral part of the manufacturing process and effort has been spent to develop and demonstrate the suitability of various processes for application into both design and structural fabrication. This article closely looks at and current welding industry challenges and skill development trends in India. 
 
The Indian welding industry accounts to a share of around Rs 4000 crore and contributes significantly to the GDP in several ways, such as welding intensive industries, auxiliary products, complementary goods, employment, and user industries. The Indian welding industry was dominated by low technology and very rare technological innovation. However, in recent years, the demand of automatic and semi automatic welding production systems are rising. Simultaneously, low budgets and recession have marked the ongoing popularity of manual, economical techniques. Increased FDI equity inflow in India has contributed to the rise in projects in automotive, offshore activities, oil and gas sector, ship building and heavy machinery industries. Many foreign automobile companies have set up their manufacturing units in India. This has positively affected the rise of consumables and welding equipment. However, economic crisis has impacted the flow of FDI in India which may result in decline in demand of welding equipment over the short period.
 
One of the big challenges faced by the local manufacturers of equipment in India is the considerable import of welding equipment. “The increased imports have negative impact on the market share of local participant in various industries such as shipbuilding, automotive and transportation and white appliances. Another challenge faced by welding electrode plant is the unorganised sector that presently occupies nearly 50-55 per cent of the market. Lack of standard specification and tedious approval process is resulting in the growth of unorganised sector,” states Manish Kulkarni, Director - Strategy & Business Development, BDB India Private Limited.
 
Indian welding consumables and equipment manufacturers need to produce high quality and unique goods in order to stay competitive in Indian and international markets. With increasing competition and lower profit margins, manufacturers need to improve their service, performance and delivery
 
Challenges:
 
Due to lack of knowledge of its application and cost economies, to a large extent, higher productivity welding consumables like CO2 continuous welding wires and flux cored wires fail to find higher demand. In view of this it is pertinent to start vigorous marketing efforts by existing leading manufacturers of consumables and equipment to educate the users.
 
Majority of organised sector units have quite low installed capacities to enable them to use modern machinery set up like computerised batching plant, X-ray florescent tester, etc. The welding consumable manufacturers should arrange these technologies and try to adopt it for lower capacity plants if possible.
 
“Testing facilities and quality assurance systems are inadequate in India. Approval of inspection agencies, Indian and foreign, is for limited specific types of consumables. Quality and reliability of other varieties are dependent on Quality Assurance Systems of the manufacturer. The manufacturers need to be exposed to international practices in quality assurance systems like ISO 9000, which are desirable, in order to face international competition,“ states Ashok Malage, Secretary- Mumbai Branch, Indian Institute of Welding.
 
“R & D effort in India for welding electrodes is fragmented among few leading manufacturers and WRI, Tiruchy. Very frequently research effort is being spent on already developed products. Majority of the manufacturers cannot offer to carry out research on their own,” adds Kulkarni.
 
Skill development initiatives
 
India’s working-age population will rise by 12.5 crore over the coming decade, and by a further 10.3 crore over the following decade. It is almost a cliché to say India is sitting on a demographic dividend. That is, with its growing young workforce, it can look forward to decades of high productivity, economic growth and upward social mobility. By 2022, it is estimated that unless action is taken, there will be a gap of 10.3 crore skilled labourers in the infrastructure sector, 3.5 crore in auto and 1.3 crore in healthcare, to name a few. Indian government has given a major impetus to skilling over the last few years.
 
A National Skills Development Agency has been set up to coordinate various piecemeal training efforts of different ministries, state governments and industry.
 
Industry has been engaged in designing the training curriculum and certification of trainees, so that trainees are taught the things they need for getting a job (a major weakness of previous government training efforts was a weak linkage to jobmarket needs). Twenty-eight sector skill councils, with industry in the lead, have been set up for this. 
 
Incentives for youth to get trained and certified are being put in place. The Standard Training Assessment and Reward (STAR) Scheme has been launched, under which each trainee gets approximately Rs 10,000 upon completion and certification of training. More than 2,30,000 young people have been enrolled under the STAR incentive programme already. 
 
Technology is beginning to be deployed to transform the training landscape. Various innovative models have emerged. As the example of “Velu the Welder” (and similar simulators, such as for driving) has shown, technology is being leveraged to make training safer, more cost-effective and more scalable. With highspeed broadband connectivity to every panchayat likely to become a reality in the next two years, technology-based skilling models will only become more valuable in scale and impact.
 
Existing government programmes are being adapted to make the youth jobready. The National Service Scheme has been adapted to prepare youth for entrepreneurship opportunities by enhancing their IT literacy, financial literacy, English communication and other soft skills. This is already being implemented across 40 colleges. Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) are being upgraded, many through public-private partnerships. For example, a world-class skilling centre has been established by the Delhi government in partnership with the Singapore government, adapting from the successful training models of Singapore, to train 10,000 youths per year. 
 
Existing government programmes are being adapted to make the youth jobready. The National Service Scheme has been adapted to prepare youth for entrepreneurship opportunities by enhancing their IT literacy, financial literacy, English communication and other soft skills. This is already being implemented across 40 colleges. Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) are being upgraded, many through public-private partnerships. For example, a world-class skilling centre has been established by the Delhi government in partnership with the Singapore government, adapting from the successful training models of Singapore, to train 10,000 youths per year. 
 
New state-specific programmes that address unique challenges — like Udaan (for unemployed graduates) and Himayat (for entry-level service-jobs) in Jammu and Kashmir — are being scaled up. An end-to-end value chain — for identifying youth, training, 
 
placement and post-placement counselling and support — has been created. More than 20,000 young people have already been trained and placed in the state through these two programmes, and the target is 1.5 lakh over the next five years.
 
R & D effort in India for welding electrodes is fragmented among few leading manufacturers and WRI, Tiruchy. Very frequently research effort is being spent on already developed products. Majority of the manufacturers cannot offer to carry out research on their own.
 
Manish Kulkarni, Director - Strategy & Business Development, BDB India Private Limited.
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