Living in a period with game-changing technologies coming to the forefront to transform manufacturing as we know it, while at the same time creating socio-political-economic ramifications that reverberate across the world, is definitely a most interesting time.
As the manufacturing industry in India tries to grapple with the onset of electric vehicles, tackles a recession in both India and globally, how prepared are we to convert these dynamics into opportunities?
The manufacturing industry in India has traditionally been lagging behind global technology leaders by several years. Automotive manufacturing technology developed in USA and Europe in the early 1900s, appeared in India only in the 1950s and 1960s. Robotics and CNC technology showed its prowess in Europe and Japan in the 1960s, while India started embracing it only in the 1990s. A nation of innovative engineers has attempted to catch up with technology powerhouses with several decades of a head start.
The game changers mentioned above are a field leveller. Innovative enterprises with focused R&D efforts for developing original products and solutions truly have a once in a 100 years window of opportunity to leapfrog technology levels and be a leader. Taking cue from Indians in software, healthcare, telecom industries that have been known to build globally recognised enterprises, manufacturing industry leaders must pick the gauntlet and bring to reality the vision of Make in India with a global perspective.
Battery manufacturing, for example, is a field that has tremendous scope for both, product and process development. Closer to the domain that I work in, that is metal finishing, I will cite an example of Electronic Power Steerings (EPS) that are recent phenomena. Critical elements of EPS, like steering rack bars, now have features, such as, ballscrews, which also require superfinishing operation for smooth motions. We patented a technology in this domain and have been successful in being a leader in this niche. Similarly, several other elements of the new generation powertrains are creating opportunities for us to leapfrog.
The current period of slowdown in India is not only a wake-up call for the manufacturing industry, but also an ideal window to redefine visions and missions. We should reorient from a growth agenda to a technological innovation agenda. As e-commerce start-ups have shown us, if there is a cool technology, then exponential growth follows. Spurring design thinking in the organisation, pumping resources and more importantly, intellect into research and development, leveraging young talent are some of the tactics the industry needs to fast apply.
As we are inspired by the achievements of fellow Indian scientists at ISRO, developing out-of-the-box solutions to challenges let us create our own inspiring stories of breakthrough technology. Let us begin experiments with a jugaad, but end them with a solid engineering product that commands respect across the world. Let us innovate for becoming a global technology powerhouse.