A relatively new development in high-speed machining activities in India is the introduction of highly specialised technical centres that are set up by key manufacturers/ vendors to broadcast the capabilities of their products. They offer the service to their clients or prospective clients, who can use such facilities to test out their prototypes or get some quick machining done before making any significant investment decisions.
Technological change has long been recognized as an important driver of economic growth. Technical centers are no less than a center of innovation, where the customer can witness new possibilities in the rapidly progressing high speed machining technology and design engineering. They are the new age version of networking, strategically initiated to display component machining capability, optimized applications support and comprehensive training in close proximity to the customer. We find out more about the how these facilities work.
Specialised Technical Centres play an important role today in the machine tool industry as more and more process oriented projects are being handled means today most of the customers ask for manufacturing solutions rather than just a machine tool. “They want the machine tool supplier to provide a complete solution with commitment to quality, quantity hence these technical centres are the places where the value addition on the machine tool takes place. Of course we are also planning to have one in a near future,” says Rajesh T. Ghashi, Managing Director, Chiron India Machine Tools Pvt. Ltd. VVS Mani, Director Operations, Unibic Foods adds, “for FMCG products like ours, we do not have such ready centres as of now but some of our business partners (machinery suppliers ) are working towards having lines for certain products which could be used for understanding the capabilities and also to even test market some products in select regions etc. thereby cutting down the expenses of having to put up own lines with huge investments and risk of idle capacities, huge inventories of raw materials for full-fledged line capacities.” Since learning and Development is crucial for industries to enhance competitiveness in manufacturing, empowering the industry professionals and fresh engineers with the latest technological developments through various training sessions and is becoming a necessity. “IMTMA, Siemens, GE to name a few who have already taken up the initiatives in this direction. This will also boost the Governments initiative of Make-in-India and create a pool of experts who can contribute in the success of this initiative. With the help of Make in India drive, India is on the path of becoming the hub for hi-tech manufacturing,” opines Prasanna Samant, Vice President – IT, Grauer & Weil India Ltd.
Tech Centers play a significant role in enhancing critical customer input to machine tool manufacturing for the development and right application of technology. India has very diverse topography with specialized manufacturing needs requiring dedicated technological solutions wherein the technology centers play a pivotal role. Himanshu P. Shaparia, Vice President – Sales, Jyoti CNC Automation Ltd says, “Jyoti being technology centric, we have developed Technology Centers way back in 2004 the first being operational at our corporate head quarter. At present we have our tech centres in major manufacturing hubs like Chennai and Bangalore. The upcoming technology centers in Pune and Delhi will be operational by the end of the second quarter. This is the way forward to stay in tune with the rapid technological changes in the machine tool industry.” Sandvik Coromant, India is opening its new center in Pune for productivity, application, machining and research in manufacturing. This 27 crore investment aims to offer cutting-edge solutions and expertise to customers, cutting-edge research and work on the future of global manufacturing. Javier Guerra, President- India, Sandvik Coromant explains, “we are ready to customise to ensure we meet the needs of our customers. We are walking on process systems and we have a research roadmap in place.”
Doing The Math
Technical Centres for most of the machine tool companies especially the non-Indian companies help a lot in localization of value additions in terms of local made peripherals like coolant systems, chip conveyors, fixture, cutting tools etc., there by bringing the overall cost of the project lower that ultimately benefits the end users. “However, the cost of setting up the technical centre requires a good amount of investment in terms of infrastructure and also well trained technical staff. It’s more of an application centre where you integrate the machine with fixtures, tooling, part programming and prove outs with statistical analysis reports using CMM and other measuring devises. The technical centre also acts as a training centre for customers where you can provide various training on the customer machines itself,” avers Ghashi. Such centres have not come up in big way in India for FMCG food products, however, for product trials in R &D set up, many of the flavour and ingredient suppliers have set up product development centre, where reasonable infrastructure is available to take trials, iterate and formulations and finalise the products. A programme of technical and economic cooperation is essential for the development of relations with the other developing countries on the basis of partnership and cooperation for mutual benefit. It would also contribute to the evolution of world community based on the inter-dependence in the attainment of their common goal for promoting the social and economic well-being of their people. “Research and Development today is equivalent to a business which focuses on creation of partnerships with the rest of the world to generate exploitable knowledge, technologies, new products and processes. In other words, it is about wealth creation in India not only through international trade and business but export of knowledge-based products and technologies. It emphasises a major transformation from “perennial technology seekers” to “technology providers”. Export of services like software is already an example. India’s enormous potential has not been tapped so far,” says Samant.
Making the Difference
High speed machining is a technology that is becoming a competitive necessity, and not effectively implementing this technology could fall by the wayside in the highly competitive worldwide marketplace. “Hence we believe that technological centers are one of the paramount junctions to display such technology in the Indian manufacturing context. In spite of the growth in Indian manufacturing sector, still an abundant section of Indian manufacturing sector relies and dependent on conventional technologies which acts as barrier for their growth and falls short in competing in the global market. Looking at customer view, machine tool considered as capital good investment and needs proven solution to meet the productive targets. Not all customer avail with equitable information and misconception associated with modern trend amd technology need to wipe off through practical exposure. Tech centres find the exact answer to solve such issue and promote right technology to the right segment with right intent,” adds Shaparia.
Technical Centres are a place of high regard for a company because this is the place where you invite your customers for final acceptance of the machine tool or also do the test cuts for your prospective customers. It is here to show case your machine tool and also your expertise in providing custom solutions in a shortest possible time and reassure customers that there is a local support available for any kind of process related consultation. “Such centres will help business growth with a team which has been either trained or are empowering the industry professionals with the latest technological developments through various training sessions. This in turn will also help retain customers or attract new customers, as they would prefer getting associated with an organisation which has a knowledgeable team and experts in their respective areas,” explains Samant.
Challenges & More
“The main challenge is to have the availability of technical skill and for this we need to train people extensively to attain the skill and knowledge on par with our principles and this takes a lot of time before you can go to your customers. This is the only major issue in operationalizing the tech. centre and hence good amount of planning is required during implementation stage,” opines Ghashi. Mani adds, “it may not be easy to extend such facilities to all product categories as the investments could vary and be huge for certain product segments. However, this is being explored by many business partners to improve their rate of success in winning orders for product lines, in short time, thereby improving their revenues and profits. Trying to keep idle labour and skills would be a challenge if the proto type line is not fully utilised.”
Going forward it does seem that such centres will help in business growth as the dependence on parent company reduces with local support and benefitting our customers with more economical solutions. Such centers are being thought of as being beneficial especially when prototypes could be run and iterated as per specific needs, before finalising on the complete product line machinery. “This reduces chances of failures in being able to smoothly manufacture such products subsequently at our own plants and also reduces learning curve in terms of any complications of technology which needs fine tuning- both in product as well as the plant and machinery,” avers Mani. The key however, would be for the business partner to be willing to invest and network the prospective clients into appreciating the value and such strategy brings to the table the value that is originally envisaged for this concept.
This story first appeared in the August 2018 issue of Manufacturing Today here: MT_August 2018_Manufacturing Tech Centres