How has been the performance of Suhner India in the recent past? What were the major factors that were affecting growth?
Since 2013, Suhner India has been on a growth path. In 2017, there was a slight slump primarily on account of demonetisation and GST implementation. Due to this, the growth has slowed down in 2017 for a while. However, moving ahead, we are quite bullish about the future. Our experience with exhibitions like IMTEX that happened during the start of this year reflects the positive trend in the market and is quite encouraging.
According to you, what are the trends that are witnessed lately in the abrasive industry?
In the abrasive sector, one of the new trends that is coming up is the use of robot tools to do finishing. We have developed a series of tools that is specifically meant to be used with robots. That is the future because everybody wants to get away from manual polishing and wants to move towards automated and mechanised way of polishing. In terms of material trends, we are witnessing increased usage of aluminium and light alloy products, wherein the process of buffing and polishing is a challenging task. So, in order to meet this requirement, we have come out with a series of abrasives for aluminium polishing.
Can you highlight your company’s latest offerings in the abrasive segment?
Recently, we launched a product called SUNmic micro motor system, especially for the tool and mould making applications where a precision finish is desired – for instance, grinding, milling, brushing and polishing. This product primarily caters to pharma equipment manufacturers, kitchen equipment manufacturers, etc. It is generally for anyone who uses stainless steel, which requires a high level of final polishing.
Suhner India has three major business units in the Indian market. Out of this, which ones do you think have a major potential in India?
Abrasive and transmission has got a much better potential than the machining division. Abrasive technology can never go out of fashion. I have not witnessed any disruptive innovations that are going to replace abrasive technology at least in the near future. In the field of transmission, we have our flexible drive shafts that are seeing quite a good traction especially in the automotive field. These are some of the areas, where we perceive growth and this year, we have increased our manufacturing capacity by about 60% to meet the market demands.
Going forward, how are you strategising your business model for the Indian market? What are your plans for expansion?
With respect to our business model, we will continue with our strategy of selling our products directly to the customers by demonstrating solutions to them.
As part of our expansion plan and keeping in mind the growth prospects of the future, we have increased our manufacturing and office space from 800 sqm to 2000 sqm. The new facility has 1600 sqm of manufacturing space and 600 sq m of office, display areas and training areas. For the machining division, there is a fully equipped demo room that serves the purpose of demonstrating the capabilities of Suhner. For the abrasive division, there is a full-fledged training room, where the sales engineers hone their grinding and polishing skills as well as customers bring in their samples to get a solution. The facility also has a complete service and testing center that manages all the Suhner products that are sold in India. This is a significant milestone in our eventful journey in India so far. We also have plans of opening another office in Coimbatore and Hyderabad in the future.