UFI Filters to focus on innovation in India

The move part of Italy-based group’s strategy to develop the country into a strong export base for its aftermarket products, says Manish Pant.
UFI Filters to focus on innovation in India
The move part of Italy-based group’s strategy to develop the country into a strong export base for its aftermarket products, says Manish Pant.
 
It is perhaps in sync with the emerging demands of Industry 4.0 that one of the world’s leading players in filtration systems and thermal management in the automotive sector is looking at establishing more innovation centres in India. The company, which currently has three plants in Bawal, Belgaum and Bahadurgarh in the country, is quite upbeat with the results being delivered by its innovation centre at Aerocity in New Delhi.
 
Although the New Delhi innovation centre is only a few months old, its staff of 32 engineers performs critical testing of filters manufactured at UFI’s plants across geographies.
 
An enthused Giorgio Girondi, Chairman, UFI Filter Group told IPF, “The stimulation centre in Aerocity is the first truly global project of UFI in India. Why did we launch the centre here? Because the country has the best talent to provide stimulation testing of filters for our global operations.”
 
“R&D is important to us and we want to develop more such centres in India where data can first be organised and then analysed. The Indian mind is the best when it comes to mathematical ability,” he added.
 
The company’s other innovation centres are located in Italy and China. It employs 168 specialised technicians at these centres and holds 206 patents. Over 5 per cent of the company’s revenues are reinvested into R&D.
 
Another reason why the UFI Chairman is so keen to develop a robust R&D framework in India is on account of the company’s keenness to develop the country as an important base for global exports. According to UFI’s top management, going forward the company has targeted export of 40 per cent of the total output from its three plants located here. “We are looking at exporting to countries in India’s neighbourhood, including the Middle East,” informed Girondi.
 
COUNTERFEITING ON DECLINE
 
One of the oft-heard complaints from the aftermarket segment is about the menace of counterfeiting. Companies in India have tried to counter it through measures such as engaging with government authorities, hiring specialist agencies to identify makers of fake products and improving their communication with the end-users like retailers and technicians. According to UFI’s India management, these had resulted in a drop in instances of forgery.
 
Hridesh Sharma, CEO, UFI Filters India Pvt Ltd, observed, “In my 20 years of experience things have changed a lot. The numbers for India tell me that 75 per cent parts are pure and 25 per cent counterfeit. Ten years ago, they used to be 40 per cent pure and 60 per cent counterfeit!” He was optimistic that the percentage of counterfeit products would decline further, though a lot of effort was still required on the part of regulators, industry and consumers.
 
UFI presently manufactures over 20 million parts in India. In October last year, the company launched its first dedicated aftermarket plant in the world at Bahadurgarh near Delhi, also making it the group’s 18th industrial site globally. The facility is dedicated to manufacturing filters for both local spare parts and export markets.
 
The company expects the revenue from its aftermarket business in India to touch Rs 1 billion by 2024. Currently, the country contributes 20 per cent to UFI’s turnover and it is looking at almost doubling sales in another four years’ time.
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