For the bearings industry, the infrastructure is on a growth path, coupled with progress in the automotive industry. The need for good quality, technologically superior and reliable bearings has now become amplified with the evolving requirements from the manufacturers on comfort, safety and reliability. Shailesh Lall, Managing Director, Bajaj Bearings Private Limited says, in this evolving market scenario, automation will play a vital role in the coming years.
Tell us about the various products that you offer in the space of bearings.
We manufacture all types of bearings; we are manufacturers and exporters. About 90 per cent of the products that we are manufacturing are for the aftermarket, that is for the taper-roller bearings. We serve the aftermarket for the automotive industry. Apart from automotive, we are also serving the oil & gas industry. But we are primarily interested in the aftermarket of the automotive industry.
Can you give us a picture of how the overall bearings industry is performing?
For the time being is everything is going well. The infrastructure is growing, the automotive industry is also performing well with respect to the last six months. There is no downward growth for the time being. Being exporters, the developed price as compared to the Indian currencies is high. Hence the profit margin will remain positive this year also. In India, we just supply to a couple of OEM companies such as Gujarat Tractors, Tafe Tractors, among others. Our main focus is on export and the export industry is going well. Now we have to wait and watch till the elections happen. That also has a big impact, and being a manufacturer we are now used to GST as well, which has been in place for the last one and a half year.
What are the different methods that you follow which can increase the life cycle of a product?
The life cycle of a product completely depends upon the raw material. The process of manufacturing remains the same, in any part of the world. The parameter of the material being used differs from company to company. It depends on what material and grease you are using. If the raw material is market approved, then there’s no other reason to check for safety. The main parameters which are kept in mind are hardness, width and the quality of steel. So these three have to be taken care of initially.
How has automation helped to bring a change in manufacturing?
Automation is helpful for the bigger companies. The small companies with a turnover of Rs 10-50 crore won’t get any because at the end of the day, the cost will be higher. That is why the smaller players cannot afford automation. Nowadays, even small companies are using CNC machines for the turning and rallying process. Companies which have already started automation, it is definitely good for them, because they can afford the investment. In future, automation will help in mass production, and consequently the prices will go down. This is what the Chinese are doing – with the help of automation, they are offering competitive prices as the Indian manufacturers. Simultaneously, they get benefit from the government as well. In India, there is no benefit from the government. It (the government) is just refunding our tax after three to four months. With the presence of GST, we have to apply for the refund application. For instance, if we have a shipment of Rs 50 lakh, Rs 9-10 lakh is held for three to four months. So it is a long process for a small manufacturer. But, coming back to the point, we are also on track and hopefully we will try to adopt automation in the next couple of years.
What according to you are the challenges facing this industry and how can they be overcome?
There are difficulties everywhere. But at this juncture, it is difficult to comment on which challenges we are facing.