A few years ago, our nation had announced a resolve towards a manufacturing focus through its ‘Make in India’ programme. There have been a few hits & more misses as far as attracting FDI towards achieving this ambitious target.
Global experience has been that capital, technology and entrepreneurial energy, which will flow to countries that demonstrate qualitative competitiveness, without compromises and shortcuts. To attract more manufacturing companies to invest in India, more structural reforms and fiscal initiatives are needed.
The above factors are in control of the Government, but what is it that the machine tool industry can do to pull itself out of the quagmire?
A downturn is the time to recalibrate the targets we set for ourselves. Indian machine tool manufacturing companies cater to only a part of the total country’s requirement and a significant portion of the demand is fulfilled by the imported machines. The Indian companies have a huge opportunity to increase this share by a sincere upgradation process that will include investments in reliable technologies.
Indian machine builders would need to raise the quality bar to compete with the best in the world and ‘Make in India’, not only for the Indian market, but also for the rest of the world. When it comes to investing in high-end technologies, fundamental research and product development, the ‘low cost’ mindset must change in favour of utmost reliability, highest precision and best-in-class philosophy, comparable to global standards.
To create a more sophisticated manufacturing DNA, India should look at strategies adopted by manufacturing leaders like Germany, Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan and start making for the world, apart from catering only to the Indian market. If India wants to position itself as the preferred manufacturing location, it is inevitable that the machine tool industry also will need to put its best foot forward.
Many industry leaders from the Indian machine tool fraternity have already realised that quality, reliability and precision are the only way to compete with the best in the world. This is clear by the slow but steady growth in the export numbers in the last few years.
The mindset of producing machines which are just ‘good enough’ has to change. A key feature of highly accurate CNC machines from across the world is that more than 75% of machines made in the countries listed above use the closed loop encoder feedback system to avoid errors creeping in the final machined product, due to thermal effects during machining process and/or inherent geometric inaccuracies of the machine. It is a proven fact that machines without closed loop feedback systems cannot remain accurate during their operation. This is just one example and there could be many such features which differentiate the best machines from the ones that are just average. Indian companies need to benchmark themselves with the best CNC machines available worldwide and incorporate their best practices.
With these subtle changes, the country is certainly poised to outlive the image of being a land of ‘just enough’, ‘compromised’ manufacturing philosophy and can aspire to make equipment not only for local high-end usage, but also for evolved markets.