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Nilesh Pendharkar,

Managing Director,

Ferronite Metal Treatment India

ENERGY EFFICIENCY Coatings are the future of the heat treatment industry

Mar 19, 2019

…says Nilesh Pendharkar, Managing Director, Ferronite Metal Treatment India, in this interview with Juili Eklahare. He shares his views on the trend of vacuum nitriding and how SMEs have to struggle to adopt new technologies due to high initial cost. Excerpts…

Which are the end-user industry sectors under focus for Ferronite Metal Treatment India? Where do you see the major growth coming from and what are the key growth drivers?

Our basic application is to increase wear & tear and fatigue life in steel. The main end-user industry for us would be automotive, defence and electrical, although the treatment is required for all sectors, from domestic to surgery. We see major growth coming from domestic vehicles, off-road equipment and defence. That’s because the automotive sector has electric cars to look forward to, but commercial vehicles and off-road equipment, such as, tractors or JCB cannot be electrified or will be difficult to electrify for the next 20 to 30 years.

What is your impression/outlook for the heat-treating industry in India? How are the advanced technology adoption levels?

The heat treating industry in India is in a good condition and is heading towards growth. Eventually, all comes down to quality. If companies direct their efforts towards top-notch quality, then development is bound to be there. Companies are certainly going for advanced technologies now, such as, vacuum heat treatment or vacuum nitriding because the production cost is low. On the other hand, the initial cost for these technologies is very high which, for now, only big companies can afford. Nevertheless, SMEs have to struggle in adopting these technologies due to the very same high costs.

A developing trend is vacuum nitriding. Is this a more expensive approach than a typical pit furnace? Also, what per cent of your business revolves around nitriding?

Vacuum nitriding is definitely more expensive than a typical pit furnace. That’s because, compared to a convention furnace, the equipment cost of vacuum nitriding is high and the rate of deposition is very low. So, even if vacuum nitriding is expensive, it comes with its advantages, which makes it preferable. Our business, too, is purely into nitriding, making nitriding 80 per cent of our business while the remaining 20 per cent involving other commercial heat treatments.

What further advancements in heat treating do you see in the future?

Coatings will be the future of the heat treatment industry. When I say coatings, I mean nitriding. However, it is not iron nitriding; it could be titanium nitriding or carbon coating, etc, which are all PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) coatings. Coatings have a very low temperature due to which they do not affect the basic material property. What’s more, it helps increase the wear and tear life.

What do you see for Ferronite Metal Treatment India down the road? Can you share with us the company’s short-term and long-term plans?

Our short-term goal is to bring all equipment facilities under one roof and strive to be number one in nitriding and vacuum by 2020-21. As for our long-term goal, we aim to search business for electric vehicle components and some diversification in coating technology. The reason for the latter is that coating is going to survive for at least the next 20 years. It is common in Europe; however, it is expensive in Asian and other developing countries. That calls for giving these countries cheaper solutions, which we are working on.

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