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“Customer demand is getting more critical because of the increasing levels of competition and globalisation”, says T K Ramesh

Metal Cutting “Being globally competitive is key”

Nov 2, 2016

…says T K Ramesh, CEO, Micromatic Machine Tools, in this interview with Suchi Adhikari. He discusses the need for providing complete solution packages, while taking a sustainable approach so as to cater to the customer’s demands. Excerpts…

What are your views on the manufacturing growth in India and globally amidst the current volatile economic environment?

Currently, whatever growth is there in the global manufacturing industry, it is mainly due to the variety of products available and required in the market, rather than the volumes. Traditionally, China and other countries from the Far East have been into large volume manufacturing. But, when it comes to India, a volatile environment is helpful. Thus, batch sizes are coming down and the number of batches or product variants are increasing. This is very conducive for the Indian manufacturing because our ability to handle variety is better.

Which markets are the most promising for your business growth?

Globally, there are several untapped, large-size markets that are yet to be conquered. Currently, our global exports contribution to our business is around 11%. We would like to grow this business to 20% in the next 3 years. The promising markets for us are China, Turkey, South-East Asia, the Middle East and parts of Europe.

Your company recently collaborated with ExxonMobil as an official lubricant partner. Can you brief us more on this and its benefits for the Indian customers?

For machines to perform to the best of their ability, an entire ecosystem is needed where several things have to perform together. We hope that by partnering with ExxonMobil, the life of our machines and equipment will get extended and will have an enhanced performance, while the cost will come down. Since ExxonMobil has a major expertise and data on the chemical properties of their products, we believe that sharing of this data and building a partnership with them will help us meet our objectives. It also gives our customers more green products and allows for proper, supervised disposal for a greener and sustainable environment.

How have the customer demands evolved over the years in terms of quality, speed, product functionalities, flexibility, safety, training needs, etc?

Customer demand is getting more critical because of the increasing levels of competition and globalisation. An Indian vendor today has to compete with global players, which is impacting product quality and response time positively. What used to be done in days is now done in hours. Due to the variety of products, flexibility is also important and training needs are becoming frequent due to lesser availability of skilled people. Thus, customer demands are evolving based on these factors. So, it is imperative to be competitive on the global platform.

With the ‘Make in India’ initiative, how will the competition dynamics within the Indian machine tool industry change?

The 'Make in India' initiative has just started and is expected to get more competitive. The advantage that India has to offer to make it globally competitive is the availability of skilled manpower and our comfort with the English language. This will act as a benefit to our country and the indigenous companies need to step up investments in capacity building, R&D and manpower skills. It is expected that several global brands will have significant presence in India for two reasons. First, India will be a huge market for them from the consumption point of view. Secondly, they will use this as a base to leverage the manpower to serve other markets in the world. In this case, more opportunities will be available for the Indian manpower. However, the local Indian businesses may be at a disadvantage if they are not able to compete with the foreign brands.

Customers, today, are looking for a complete solution package customised to their needs. What strategies are being implemented by your company in order to meet this global demand?

A complete solution package has always been a requirement from the customer and we have both standalone machines and total solutions. We are spread over 32 locations in India equipped with spare parts, factory engineers and training across all locations. This is one of the reasons for our big market share. Additionally, we have partnerships with tooling, workholding and financing companies. These are some of the initiatives we have taken for offering total solutions.

With the latest technology developments such as IIoT and Industry 4.0, how is your company adapting to changes in the manufacturing processes, product lifecycles, product marketing, etc?

For the last ten years, our company has been active in the field of production monitoring and productivity management. We have a product called TPM Trak — a hardware and software solution that connects any machine and continuously monitors and picks up information from them. This gives a perspective about the productivity of the equipment itself and connects the shopfloor to the top floor. We have over a thousand installations of this product in India. This is the underlying principle that is part of Industry 4.0 today and we have already been working in that space.

How do you see your company’s growth in the near future? What are your future plans for the Indian as well as overseas markets?

We are strongly connected to manufacturing and we are, currently, about 89% India-centric and 11% exports. We, in the next three to five years, are targeting 20 to 25% of our sales in global markets and are making necessary investments in creating the required capacity, relevant products and skilled people to serve the global market. We are also looking at some leveraged partnerships in these geographies.

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  • “A complete solution package has always been a requirement for customers. We, at Micromatic Machine Tools, have both- standalone machines and total solutions”

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