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Metal cutting can never go out of fashion: Ashok KC



Advent of composites and additive manufacturing was viewed as a threat to metal cutting industry some years ago. However, the metal cutting industry has remained resilient and has shown good growth. The machine tool industry will not be significantly impacted by these trends in the near term, affirms Ashok KC, CEO, SUHNER India Pvt Ltd. In this interview, he tracks the trends in machine tools industry and growth plans of his company. 
 
Kindly brief us about your company and products & services offered by it.
Suhner India is a wholly owned subsidiary of Brugg (Switzerland) based Suhner Group - a company that has been in existence since 1914. Suhner India started its operation in 1998 from Bangalore and today has a 20000 sq ft state-of-the-art factory in Bommasandra Industrial Area in Bangalore. Suhner India has three divisions in India - Abrasive Division, Machining Division, and Transmission Division.
In Abrasive Division, we provide metal finishing solutions to industry using Suhner make electrical, pneumatic, flexible shaft drive and battery operated machines and abrasives developed by our abrasive academy in Switzerland. We provide exacting solutions to the pharma equipment manufacturers, stainless steel kitchenware, Dairy equipment, aerospace, railways, energy equipment and many more. We specialise in improving the customers process time.
 
The Machining Division provides drilling, milling and tapping spindles that are used in SPM configurations to address customers need for large volume manufacturing, complex shapes and profiles. Our spindles deliver the highest possible accuracy and repeatability and reliability in their class.
 
The Transmission Division offers flexible shafts of diameters varying from 1.6 mm to 15 mm for various applications in automotive, industry, lawn and garden, concrete vibrators, minimal invasive surgical equipment, etc. Our manufacturing plant has capacity to make 8 million meters of flexible shaft per annum
 
Are recent trends like 3D printing, usage of composites, etc having an impact on machine tools industry?
Metal cutting can never go out of fashion and consequently the Indian machine tool industry also can never go out of fashion. A large scale deployable disruptive technology is yet to replace the metal cutting. The advent of composites did appear as a threat some years ago, but the industry only has grown. Similarly, the 3D printing technology also is being touted as a technology that can be disruptive, but I do not see the machine tool industry being significantly impacted in the near term. 
 
How do you serve the metal cutting sector in India? 
Our Machining Division works in the metal cutting space. Using our spindles, customers have been able to rapidly increase their manufacturing capacity and reduce their per piece cost. Our products are therefore aligned to the industry requirement of driving the manufacturing costs down
 
Which are the major end-user industries for your products & services?
Our products are used in automotive (largest end user segment), energy, aerospace, railways, pharma equipment, dairy equipment, electrical components, white goods industry and many more
 
How big is automotive & auto component market for Suhner? 
Automotive and auto component industry is the largest segment that we are catering to. We are constantly working with our customers to make them more competitive.
 
What is driving the demand for your products?
We have been seeing a steady increase in the demand for our products over the past years. The demand growth is fuelled by three factors:
  • Growth in the industry segment itself
  • Constant need for customers to reduce their per piece manufacturing cost, which is what we specialise in by helping them achieve lowest achievable process/cycle times
  • The realisation in the industry that using low cost/cheap equipment in the initial stages of the capital investment does not pay in the long run and therefore the need to use high quality reliable products in the initial stage itself is beneficial
 
Industry 4.0 is a buzzword. How are metal cutting & machine tool accessories segments coping with this trend? 
Industry 4.0 is the trend in which the manufacturing industry and hence the machine tool industry is moving into. Every company, including ours, is working to make its products compatible in this emerging environment.
 
What will be highlight of Suhner India’s stall at IMTEX 2019?
We are showcasing gun drilling solutions in this year’s exhibition. We are also showcasing our new range of electrical and pneumatic power tools used in the metal finishing industry. We have a live demo station for our power tools and abrasives in our stall wherein customers can bring in their products and see solutions demonstrated
 
What are your expectations from IMTEX 2019?
We expect to see a wider range of visitors coming into the exhibition. We also expect to network with potential partners during the exhibition
 
Any message for visitors/exhibitors...
This is the largest and the most prestigious exhibition in India (may be in Asia too). Visit the exhibition to keep yourselves updated on the latest trends in the industry. If you have a live issue in the machining or metal finishing space, do bring in your components and/or drawings to our stall and our team will be able to help you arrive at a solution.
 
Going forward, how do you intend to grow your business in India?
Suhner is committed to the Indian market and has invested more than Rs 5 crores in infrastructure in the Indian facility in 2018. We are planning to expand our foot print beyond the current sales office locations of Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Pune, Ahmedabad and NCR in 2019 and 2020.

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