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Industry stalwarts who share their management mantras to become globally competitive and future-ready

Leadership Approach Foreseeing future of manufacturing

Dec 6, 2017

Leadership, as a process, shapes the goals of an organisation, motivates behaviour towards achievement, and helps define a group or organisational culture. In the manufacturing industry too, an apt leadership strategy is quintessential for transforming a manufacturer’s performance. The cover story features a series of interviews from the industry experts in the Indian manufaturing sector, discussing their management mantras to become globally competitive and future-ready.

“Intellectual property is a large component of our exports” — L Krishnan, Managing Director, Taegutec India

What are the most essential things that make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

The Indian manufacturing industry, especially in terms of engineering goods, is already competitive in some specific segments where we have significant competitive edge today. These include auto components, heavy engineering, inputs for oil & gas industry and pumps, to name a few. While there have been efforts to go up the value chain, our success can be described as modest. Two of the major challenges today are scale of manufacturing and intellectual property.

Scale of manufacturing involves the high cost of capital and lack of focus on exports, which are probably the reason our scales of manufacturing have remained modest to medium. There are an exceptionally few number of cases where we can claim to have attained world-class scale of manufacturing, compared to countries like China. To build a world-class manufacturing scale, we require, apart from capital, other infrastructure like supply chain connectivity and conducive labour laws. Under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, some of these factors are getting addressed but we still have a very significant distance to cover in terms of our objectives.

Intellectual property is a large component of our exports from Indian manufacturers, which are as per customer’s design and specifications. In the absence of unique intellectual property in terms of design or process, our ability to go up the value chain remains muted.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition, and demanding customers?

Post Lehman-crisis, the Indian manufacturing industry is experiencing a roller coaster ride. There have been periods of growth followed by drop in volumes and the frequency and span of these cycles have remained largely unpredictable due to local and global factors. Manufacturing leadership today has learnt to survive the volatile changes while retaining our medium and long-term goals. Leadership will have to continuously hone change-management skills to navigate these turbulent times. It is reasonable to expect greater volatility in the time to come. Only leadership and organisations that are flexible can sail through.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to, in the next 5 years?

With the focus on ‘Make in India’ spearheaded by the Govt of India and Niti Aayog, our scale of manufacturing activities in countries is expected to go up significantly. Our consistent GDP growth and high infrastructure spend will increase the per capita income and consumption. This will certainly create more opportunities for manufacturing industry to grow in size and stature.

At a conservative estimate, industry should expect growth of 8% CAGR in the next 5 years. We will also have rapid scaling up of private sector, defence and aerospace manufacturing activities. This segment will be one of our key future growth engines for manufacturing.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

From the time we entered the Indian market, we were able to scale up our activities and emerge as one of the top two players in the country. Our focus is not just topline rank but also to remain a responsible manufacturing industry player, doing every bit possible to make a positive impact to the environment and society. We are proud of what we have achieved in the areas of community and environment initiatives.

“Catch the early signs & change strategy” — Gautam K Ahuja, Managing Director, Dormer Tools India

What are the most essential things to make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

To be competitive in the global scenario, the Indian manufacturing industry needs to utilise the economies of scale by ramping up productivity and improving processes to eliminate waste and deliver good quality products. India has got the required skill set, an English-speaking workforce and is on the threshold of making it big on a global scale. Secondly, we need to improve our processes so that we work only within the 50% tolerance band.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition and demanding customers?

We are all aware of the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity & ambiguity) nature of the global environment. India is having its own set of disruptions like demonetisation and GST. For a manufacturing leader, it is important to have engagement with all levels of the organisation, to catch the early signs and change the strategy accordingly. The VUCA leader should have vision, understanding, courage and adaptability to be successful in such an environment.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

To be future ready, the Indian manufacturing industry will have to invest in R&D, and improve processes to ensure that the product coming out meets international quality standards. The rejections have to be at a minimum level, since it is a big wastage, and it reduces the dependability of the system. The processes should be so established that an assured quality is produced. We need to focus on innovation and design & create attractive products at reasonable prices to compete globally. India is losing out on being the lowest cost manufacturing base, and thus, this paradigm shift will be even more important in the coming years.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to in the next 5 years?

One of the biggest advantages with India is its good inherent consumption. With rapidly burgeoning middle-class incomes, this is going to become predominant soon. Apart from that, our share in the global export is very minimal, and this can be considered as a huge opportunity. With the ‘Make in India’ push, a lot of new manufacturing companies giving large scale employment have set up base in India. Thus, huge opportunity exists where we can leverage our strengths and move from a developing economy to a developed economy.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

Dormer Pramet was formed as a global merger of Dormer (rotating tools) and Pramet (indexable tools). There was good synergy between the two organisations leading to increased sales due to cross-selling in each country. We have products right from HSS to solid carbide drills, end mills, taps and inserts in carbide, ceramic, cermet, PCD & CBN. In India, we have one of the largest and reliable range as a cutting tool brand and offer a lot of savings for our customers. We have established a pan-India distribution network dedicated for Dormer Pramet products. Backed by a strong R&D and product development, we launch new innovative products twice every year. Due to our unique proposition to offer high productivity, with reasonable cost, we are one of the fastest growing cutting tool companies in India.

“Flexibility to accommodate changes is important” — Parag Alekar, CEO, Nicolas Correa S.A.-India Branch

What are the most essential things to make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

The two most essential things to flourish in this industry are talent and skills that are available in the market and ease to do business, which may depend on government policies. The talent crisis faced in the Indian manufacturing industry is the most important aspect to make India globally competitive. To address this, India needs to balance quantity of education with quality. Other important initiatives are essential to make India a better place to design, develop and manufacture innovative products. Significant infrastructure development, policies for more foreign business investments, efforts to make it easier to do business in India and actions to promote exports and build domestic capacity would also enable India to be more competitive. In the last three years, we have seen major changes in the government policies. Skill development promotional programmes launched are innovative and focus on industrial demand.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalization & competition, and demanding customers?

Following fundamental disciplines such as growing revenue, making the right product, controlling costs can be the first step in this approach. Additionally, the flexibility to accommodate changes is most important. New ways of working, shifting customer and employee expectations and new technologies can alter long-established processes. Convincing customers to shift focus from cost-conscious approach to cost-effective and quality-conscious approach will increase quality standards.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

With basic things like up-to-date and state-of-the-art technology, maximum utilisation of resources, constant endeavour for betterment and more investment in R&D is a must. One should keep oneself updated with the latest trends & technologies in the market in order to survive in the global competition. Having the latest technologies is not sufficient. Having access to the manpower with the desired skillset to use the technology at its best is utmost important. For this, there is no option for extensive and continuous training for the staff. There is dearth of skilled labour in this industry. The number of people who work on the shop floor with passion is drastically reducing.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to in the next 5 years?

In the recent World Bank Index on ease of doing business, India has improved its ranking significantly. With aggressive government policies and the ‘Make in India’ initiative, there is positive atmosphere in the market. India has a strong potential for growth. The Indian manufacturing industry will be a driving factor for robust growth of the Indian economy.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

In Nicolas Correa, importance is given to continuous research and development. Products are regularly updated and new products are launched as per the changing market needs. For any organisation, the after-sales service is most important. In India, we provide strong service support and application support that provides turnkey solutions. We are proud to mention that we have sold more than 70 machines in India in the last 10 years which is a strong reference for us.

“Driving through a holistic approach” — Punit Gupta, Managing Director, Blaser Swisslube India

What are the most essential things to make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

Convert costs areas into investments areas—this is a key requirement. Time is changing fast and in order to create competitiveness on a global basis, a fresh perspective is required. There is enormous potential to liberate competitiveness in manufacturing. Connect and collaborate with the best partners who can bring in their strengths and help to generate the return on investments. These are the two critical elements required in the industry.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition, and demanding customers?

Time is the biggest currency! Leadership in manufacturing needs an approach of driving the change. Investment driven approach requires a shift in perspective. The right ecosystem will help to leverage the competence and enable the manufacturing companies to lead the path amidst this fluid environment.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to, in the next 5 years?

The potential to exploit and expand on a global level is huge for Indian manufacturing industries. However, the future would depend on what we do today and the approach that the industry chooses. The traditional approach will not take us far. I am confident about the robust growth which we can drive in the manufacturing industry in the next five years. The changes have started coming in. We need to intensify the journey with a holistic approach further.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

Increasing competitiveness of our customers by driving their productivity through our Liquid Tool approach has been the key success element of our company globally. We have been able to work with our customers and help them in driving this approach, bring in transparency and a holistic view on overall returns on their investments. This has been a phenomenal journey along with our customers and I would like to thank them for being the leader in driving this change. It has been possible for us due to our strong belief towards future needs of our customers. These are backed by our immense capabilities in R&D located in Switzerland and very high competence and expertise in the whole global organisation. Our people are always excited to work with customers in exploring the possibilities to exploit the full potential of machines and tools in the manufacturing process. Serving before deserving has been a philosophy, which has been strengthened day-by-day in the company since its inception.

“Creating innovation for greater value” — Ravi Raghavan, MD & CEO, Bharat Fritz Werner

What are the most essential things that make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

In our industry, innovation is currently only product-oriented. However, innovation has to be an all-inclusive practice including the shopfloor. Only then will the customers benefit. This is a priority at BFW and we are making progress in the nature and direction of our innovation. As an industry, we invest less in R&D than other international players and we need to make up for this difference by using our natural skills at innovation to create greater value. Our supply chains have to scale up for both economies of scale and faster delivery if we have to be competitive globally.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition, and demanding customers?

Cautious optimism and controlled aggression is the need-of-the- hour. There is no denying the volatility and demanding circumstances but there are always opportunities that exist and tapping them needs to be done without going overboard in terms of investment or exposure. One needs to stick to one’s long-term strategy instead of being swayed by the short-term. Manufacturing leadership teams have to be extremely nimble so as to adapt to a change in technology or changing economic scenarios. It is this nimbleness that allows one to pick up opportunities, while minimising the harm from adverse unpredictable issues.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

Being future-ready is a strategic orientation that is often misunderstood. Companies need to plan so that they evolve into a future that presents itself. It is not about an individual company but an ecosystem. There is no point in one organisation being way ahead of the rest of the ecosystem. At BFW, we are not trying to fit into some distant future, but have developed processes of systematic evolution so that not just our company but the entire ecosystem of related supply partners and associates move forward together. This allows for a greater synchronisation.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to, in the next 5 years?

Indian manufacturing is in a sweet spot today. We see a big growth for manufacturing with the government vision of 25% contribution to GDP and with a steady growth of economy at 7% plus.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

At BFW, customer centricity, people, innovation and partnership is built into everything we do. It is difficult to imagine any of our major success stories without these vital components. We recognise our people’s contribution as immense. From the time this company was started, there has been an emphasis on technology, which explains our association with Fritz Werner many decades ago. Innovation has been the driving force of our company over the last 3-4 years and the customers have responded positively to our range of new products. BFW is a purpose driven brand. Enabling progress has been the cornerstone of all that we do. Implicit in it is our commitment to our customers and focus on them and our sense of partnership.

“Investments in mother machines and technologies is vital” — A P Jayanthram, Managing Director, Heidenhain Optics & Electronics India

What are the most essential things to make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive?

As a developing economy, Indian manufacturing has to necessarily fill up the initial step of drawing a roadmap for creating higher living standards within the country before embarking on the obvious next step of global competitiveness buttressed by productivity, quality, innovation and export orientation. The next essential thing is to make a planned effort to increase the low share of manufacturing, which is just 16% of our economy. This means raising the bar for produced quality by the companies and creating a world-class manufacturing ecosystem by the governments.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition, and demanding customers?

Manufacturing leadership should not be content with producing ‘just enough’ quality that might satisfy today’s cost-conscious local customer base, which by its sheer volume may keep their factories busy and prevent them from looking outward. Volatility in the demand pattern can only be conquered if we produce global quality by investing in mother machines and technologies that exporting nations use. By 2025, it is estimated that nearly 70% of global demand for manufactured goods will come from developing economies and with an active information society, they will definitely upgrade their product expectations. Only those who have the agility to absorb these demand trends will survive in the long run.

What will be your recommendations to the manufacturing industry to become future-ready?

Manufacturing needs to be supported by research, professional marketing, value-selling and confidence building customer support. A lot of manufacturing entities in India belonging to small & medium sector will need to accept this important strategic shift, without which we will find it difficult to compete globally. Manufacturing companies will need to invest in their teams to hold on. They have to invest in talent, whether it is in managers who understand the impact of technologies and the effect of changing national and international laws, or skilled production workers and IT support that will integrate Big Data into the manufacturing scenario to make it future-proof and efficient.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to, in the next 5 years?

Growing scarcity of technical and managerial talent for running manufacturing companies is a real problem, which can only be addressed by consistent high quality training as they do in Germany. Assuming that the economy will be managed to ensure fair distribution of wealth, per capita incomes can grow and create a body of Indian consumers joining the global consuming class. Big private organisations must invest in teaching manufacturing technology to Indians and create a training infrastructure with global standards.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

To Indian manufacturers, we provide accuracy/productivity enhancing elements manufactured using patented path-breaking technologies and produced in uniquely constructed plants. These are the same products that go into the manufacturing of top-class mother machine tools and automation products having global reputation. The value proposition needs to be sold and we can proudly say that the local manufacturers are greatly benefited by improving their product quality and accuracy by adopting methods and components used by global leaders.

“Leaders have to develop people” — Jeff Liker, Professor—Industrial & Operations Engg, University of Michigan; President – Liker Lean Advisors; Partner—The Toyota Way Academy & Lean Leadership Institute

What are the most essential things that make the global manufacturing industry competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

There is an interesting battle of ideologies going on in the world of manufacturing today. One view is represented by Industry 4.0. The vision is a completely automated factory with sensors everywhere feeding real-time information through the internet for control of the system. Then there is lean manufacturing based on the Toyota Production System (TPS) and their motto for technology is simple, slim, and flexible. Toyota continues to go back to the basics of looking at manufacturing as craft-based on the senses and skills of people. Even in an automated process, Toyota wants skilled people on the shopfloor directly observing, studying and finding ways to improve the equipment. They view human capabilities and the power of deep observation as more powerful than the thinking of computers. They use many types of sensors but continuous improvement still comes down to the passion and skills of people on the shopfloor directly observing.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition, and demanding customers?

It is often heard that lean manufacturing is old school for efficiency, but TPS was created because Toyota in the 1950s did not have the volumes to compete with American auto companies based on economies of scale. They needed to compete based on flexibility and innovation. That is still true today. For instance, Toyota will build a wider variety of different vehicles on the same assembly line. They also have designed new assembly lines to be very flexible to grow and shrink, over the weekend, to adapt quickly to changes in demand. A one-piece flow, which Toyota always strives for, provides the most flexibility to respond quickly to demand.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

Every manufacturing company needs to find their own way. It starts with a passion for excellence. Then, a deep understanding of the manufacturing process by every level of leadership must be inculcated. Also, leaders have to develop people not only , including shopfloor workers to be excellent at their jobs, but also to continuously improve processes. Toyota always goes back to basics so they want their people to first improve processes without automation and then figure out how computer systems can add value without replacing deep thinking with looking to the computer to do the thinking.

Where do you see the global manufacturing heading to, in the next 5 years?

I believe that we will continue to see today’s trends of some companies truly striving for a culture of continuous improvement and others buying the latest technical gizmos hoping automation will help them avoid the need to be excellent.

What should be the focus area that a company should concentrate on when presenting their success story? What would be your recommendations to them?

For me, in a success story, we had a vision. We saw a gap in current manufacturing system. We worked hard to close the gap running many experiments and engaging our people. We learned a lot and our manufacturing system is better in these ways with these results. And we are now building on that learning.

“India will become the factory-of-the-world” — N Ravichandran, Chief Mentor, UCAL Fuel Syatems, Former Executive Director, Lucas TVS

What are the most essential things that make Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

With the help of the ‘Make In India’ initiative, India is on the path of becoming the hub for high-tech manufacturing and we have already started seeing the presence of global giants in all sectors. In the next decade, India will become the ‘factory of the world’. The cumulative FDI in India’s manufacturing sector has reached US $70.50 billion by June 2017 and it has the potential to reach US$ 1 trillion by 2025. The competitive edge for Indian manufacturing industry rests on cost advantage, especially the design & conversion cost, the ability to absorb technology and being innovative in bringing in frugal approach in product design, process design and managing varieties and the manufacturing industries’ ability to accept, understand and implement global standards.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition and demanding customers?

The challenges in the current dynamic global scene are speed-to- market with the survival of the fastest, how to increase the value addition in a product for customers, continuous innovation and introduction of new products, availability of products and services on the touch of a screen and a high level of flexibility to cater to enormous varieties.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

As per the National Manufacturing Plan, the priority for 12th Five Year Plan includes sectors that will create large employment; sectors that will deepen technology capabilities in manufacturing; sectors that will provide strategic security; manufacturing-technology sectors for energy security; capital equipment for India’s infrastructure growth; sectors where India has a competitive advantage and the MSME sector. Among these sectors, aerospace, shipping and the food industry have to be focused in the next five years vigorously for a breakthrough growth in these sectors, whereas the other sectors will be having an organic growth.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to in the next 5 years?

We will be seeing more digitalisation and IoT across the organisations and service sectors. It has to be tailor-made and adapted to our culture and ethos. At the same time, the Indian manufacturing industry will be seeing attainment of speed, efficiency, quality and responsiveness to customers and also lot of initiatives will be seen on the value stream mapping from inbound to manufacturing units to outbound to servicing, with significant focus on logistics. India will continue to attract international players.

What should be the focus area that a company should concentrate on when presenting their success story? What would be your recommendations to them?

It is important for successful Indian companies to share the models they have used and their applicability. There are several approaches for success—TQM, TPM, Lean, Theory of Constraints, etc. However, the company has to be clear which approach they will take based on the company’s culture and the product and process portfolios. What India needs is highly skilled, committed and passionate engagement with excellence as goal. This can be achieved only through strong leadership and work ethics.

“Self-disruption is better than being disrupted” — Sanjeev Baitmangalkar, Strategy & Lean Management Consultant, Stratmann Consulting

What are the most essential things that make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

The best strategy to gain competitive advantage is to become a ‘true lean’ company. One will then have good designs built by excellent processes that are handled by well-trained learning workmen engaged in continuous improvement making them highly productive. This will help reduce costs and will allow delivery of excellent quality reliable products at competitive prices and help retain customers.

The process of achieving cost leadership in lean transformation positions companies in responding to the mechanics of buyer power. When suppliers are integrated into the business process as partners, the effects of supplier power are negated and the levels of resilience, responsiveness and agility that a true lean company achieves enables it to respond quickly to product & process changes. Lean develops strong internal competitive factors, such as strengths and core competences; good personal values of implementers across the value chain and when combined together, these help to encash external opportunities or quickly overcome threats, while meeting other societal expectations.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition and demanding customers?

Volatility and change can be best responded from a state of open mind, agility and nimbleness. This is best achieved by being a true lean manufacturer. Lean is an end-to-end solution. The demand-pull system of lean addresses volatility better than any other form of business or manufacturing process.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

It is important for the leadership to constantly be on the watch as to what can make their products or processes obsolete and to innovate newer and better ideas that make their existing products and processes obsolete and replace them. Self-disruption is better than being disrupted. Being future-ready means investing in serious research and development. The future vision that a manufacturing industry should have is how to make products better, cheaper, faster, at lower costs, more reliable, failure proofed, safe, environmentally-friendly, easy to move and relocate, without disposal hazards, etc. Lean manufacturing again is the best way forward to achieve this.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to, in the next 5 years?

The 2020-2030 decade will see tremendous changes. As autos go electric, auto component companies will be disrupted. They will clamour for ideas putting pressure on other segments as new entrants. As 3D replaces machining, it will also disrupt foundries and forge plants. AI, machine learning, IoT, etc will disrupt many current processes. Softwares running business processes or ERP systems will undergo changes to become more user-friendly, simpler and less expensive.

What should be the focus area that a company should concentrate on when presenting their success story? What would be your recommendations to them?

Success stories and case studies are presented in different formats. When an organisation succeeds, it is not that they knew what to do from start. One of the things that must be shared is what they did not see coming and how they encountered & overcame such situations. Organisations don’t succeed, people do; people don’t succeed, their attitudes, thinking and routine do. One should not focus only on the structural side, but should also present the human side of it.

“Invest in acquiring & learning latest technologies” — NK Dhand, Chairman, Micromatic Grinding Technologies

What are the most essential things that make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

The two most essential things that make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive are low cost & abundant engineering talent as well as a good understanding of the global manufacturing industry’s quality standards, practices like Lean, Six sigma, etc. Also, the ability to learn and adapt the latest manufacturing tools & techniques is essential. Besides these, a vast population also makes India an attractive destination for the world manufacturing leaders. However, the progress is slow due to several GOI & state’s policy issues, which still render ‘Doing business in India’ is very difficult. An important issue is the slow progress in raising the ‘Employability standards of engineering graduates’. In spite of many GOI initiatives like ‘Skill India’, ‘Digital India’ etc, it’s not making much headway as implementation remains poor. This leads to many global leaders setting up their own training centres, thus, slowing down the scaling up process. In spite of these limitations, many global companies are choosing leaders amongst the Indian manufacturers to outsource their manufacturing so as to reduce costs.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition and demanding customers?

The leadership approach to meet these challenges is to focus on nurturing talent & continuous skill upgradation of the workforce and investing in acquiring and learning the latest technologies as much as possible. Globalisation and rapid technological changes are here to stay and market challenges can be met only if we are mentally prepared for the same. The whole organisation has to adopt a completely recharged mindset of ‘Thinking new i.e. cheaper, better & faster’. As for new technologies, which are not available in India due to many restrictions, Indian manufacturing industries have to push for in-house R&D efforts to develop them with the help of IITs & other renowned institutions, whose graduates are showing their capabilities on the global arena.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

Being future-ready implies ‘thinking new’. All the manufacturing resources, plant, equipment and infrastructure must be ‘future ready’, i.e. smart enough to produce with minimum cost inputs and renewable energy requirements, zero changeover, downtime and maintenance.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to, in the next 5 years?

India has a high growth potential in manufacturing. However, this advantage needs to be nurtured and cultivated both within the country by making it a technologically advanced manufacturing nation and outside by being able to innovate and customise local people’s needs in those countries.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

Our company's success as one of the leading grinding machine tool company in the country for the past 10 years has taken nearly 35 years to achieve since its beginning in 1973. This success can be attributed to our focus on nurturing talent & continuous skill upgradation at all levels, investing in acquiring & learning the latest technologies and in-house R&D with strong academic collaboration and support.

“Manufacturing leaders will have to be thinkers” — Shailesh Sheth, A Corporate Strategy Advisor and Past President, IMTMA

What are the most essential things that make Indian manufacturing globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

There are four key thrusts that come to the fore. The first one is resource efficiency, which helps reduce complexity and keeps it simple, delivers greater performance using less inputs, does not over-engineer, and overall, pursues the principle of ‘more-for-less’. The second key is building scale, which helps reduce the risk of restricted geographic market spread by building scale and pursuing the concept of ‘Make in India – sell to the world’. Without exposing products to global markets, our Q/C/D parameters will remain lethargic. The third consideration includes increased R&D spend; no authentic figures are available but the popular perception is that the Indian industry spends 0.5% against global average of close to 4.0%. The final key point is lowest time and the cost and design-to-delivery. With demographic advantage and engineering talent available, manufacturing leadership has to define pathway to develop new products faster, cheaper and better.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation and competition and demanding customers?

Everyone knows that the emerging world will be a VUCA scene (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). Long-term planning will get tossed out of the window. Yet, manufacturing leadership will be called upon to grapple and stay ahead of technology disruptions, changing customer preferences, wild fluctuations in input costs, etc. The manufacturing manager will have to decide his CapEx Plan that will not be disrupted before ROI is assured. So, he will have to be future ready, epitomising a blend of thinking, creation and futurology.

Becoming future ready is one of the major visions for manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendation to achieve desired level?

Manufacturing will play a key role in permitting India to cash in on its demographic dividend. Needless to say, India’s manufacturing has to sharpen its rough edges and discover a new innovative approach to become globally competitive. Over the last decade, though no new jobs were created, productivity has dramatically shot up. Yet, Indian manufacturing is too domesticated, sitting in its comfort zone of rising domestic consumption lead growth. Indian industry will have to compete globally to prove its world-class credentials because that is what Indian consumers are now demanding. ‘Go global’ should be the mantra.

Where do you see the Indian Manufacturing heading to, in the next 5 years?

We have so far covered only tactical issues. The real differentiator will come from our strategic outlook towards manufacturing. Most people in this sector are only productiondriven. This will not do in the future. Manufacturing leaders will have to be ‘thinkers’ who are able to foresee and script all elements of their company’s sustainable competitiveness.

What should be the focus area that a company should concentrate on when presenting their success story? What would be your recommendation to them?

The SME entrepreneurs will have to rapidly transit over midway stops in their journey from aspirations to dreams, dreams to focused businesses, focused businesses to firing ambition and from ambition to growth.

“Smart manufacturing is on a transformation journey” — BC Rao, Managing Director, Kennametal India

What are the most essential things to make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

Some of the challenges of the Indian manufacturing sector include lack of scale and its labour-intensive nature. In the past, Indian manufacturers have resorted to the use of low-cost labour to offset the high capital cost requirements. However, with rising wages, this situation is changing and the current trend is witnessing the setting up of new manufacturing plants involving large-scale low cost automation techniques. Some fundamental aspects of production like efficient line balancing, lean plant layout, process de-bottlenecking, low-cost automation and semi-automation techniques in shopfloor need to be pursued. Another essential aspect which requires to be focused upon is skilled man power, which is always in short supply.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition and demanding customers?

We are living in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. Although the leadership challenges in an increasingly VUCA world are significant, they are not in-surmountable for those who are willing to look beyond old thinking and approaches. Disruptive changes like the one we are all faced with demand a different style of leadership—one which actively engages with uncertainty. VUCA leadership focuses on three key aspects. The first aspect involves a shared vision. VUCA leadership demands that everyone supports the vision and thoroughly understands their part in it. Collaboration is another key aspect of this style of leadership. Fostering an agile culture is the third important feature of VUCA leadership. Leaders must be keen to assess their corporate culture, to better understand why things happen as they do in the organisation. The right culture will promote and reward the desired behaviour and this will help to attract and retain talented employees.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

Smart manufacturing is on a transformation journey. Flexible factories and demand-driven supply chains will change manufacturing processes to allow manufacturers to customise products to individual needs. Future-ready factories are those that have adopted profitable and innovative manufacturing practices, thereby, enabling optimal resource utilisation with a continuously shrinking carbon footprint.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to in the next 5 years?

Under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Government of India aims to increase the share of the manufacturing sector to a GDP of 25% by 2022. Business conditions in the country’s manufacturing sector remain positive. India is expected to rank amongst the top three growth economies and manufacturing destination of the world by 2020.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

Kennametal firmly believes and continues to invest in innovation led growth path, which is going to shape the future. To meet the growing demands, Kennametal invented an advanced process planning cloud enabled software known as NOVO. This brings in a lot of synergy right from correct tool selection, advisor menu for a given application to supply chain logistics and online ordering. There is a seamless integration and many customers and channel partners around the globe are benefited from this tool, which drastically improves the overall efficiency.

“We need to catch up with global players” — Manjit Singh Matharoo, CEO, Matharoo & Matharoo Inc

What are the most essential things that make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

Cheap labour and skill & cost of infrastructure are still the two most important factors that make the Indian machine tool competitive. Lack of skill and technology gaps are hampering this sector’s growth. Fiscal challenge and higher investment is holding back this sector. We are still 50% behind our own requirement of machine tools. With all sectors looking up, the Indian machine tool sector is poised for growth. The government has, for the first time, had a serious look at this sector.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition, and demanding customers?

We need to capture the openings provided by the railways, aerospace, defence, infrastructure, shipping and power sectors. We also need to have better and bigger machining facilities. Our government must create conditions for acquiring technologies and should help in closing deals on units, which are under stress and are looking for buyers. We must also re-think our machine designs and provide at least the bare minimum features that the customer requires.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

To become future-ready, it is necessary to invest more in technology, design, machining infrastructure and material selections and to see that more of robotics is involved.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to in the next 5 years?

The future bodes well for the machine tool industry. India is still lying far behind and needs to catch up with the global players. As India is amongst the fastest growing economies in the world and the government is focused on seeing that it achieves a double-digit growth rate, it is important for the machine tool industry to gear up for this as it is going to play a huge role in this growth.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

Our company’s objective has been to stay ahead of the competition and meet the demands of the customer & market. We keenly watch the industry and the rapid changing demands of the end-user. The introduction of new models and technologies to match the imported machines by the leaders in our sector has always kept us in the lead.

“Create a culture to achieve operational excellence” — CR Sudheendra, President—India, United Grinding

What are the most essential things that make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

In order to increase production competitiveness in India, distinctive improvements in terms of productivity, quality and operational excellence are required. The salary level in India is comparatively low but combined with a gap in productivity and the inflation against global competitors, the cost advantage is shrinking. The mindset of Indian manufacturers have to change from ‘best quality means high costs’ to ‘poor quality means high costs’. Continuous improvements, work safety, flexibility and agility should become a culture to achieve operational excellence.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition, and demanding customers?

India already is, and surely, will become a global manufacturing hub for many companies. The Indian industry needs to manage, use and adapt to the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world. Some of the factors to have success for business in India are proximity to customers, offering robust, reliable and affordable products suited to the Indian market. The Indian industry can improve competitiveness for manufacturing with a strong focus on lean management, zero defect culture and work safety.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

Industry 4.0 is the talk of the town everywhere. India has an excellent base for Industry 4.0 due to the availability of IT talent & capacity. India can greatly benefit from this advantage but before that, our workforce and leaders getting qualified is important.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to in the next 5 years?

India’s GDP in the last decade has grown on an average by 7.5% per year. The forecast till 2025 projects between 6% and 8%. With this in mind, India belongs to the fastest growing economies in the world. India is set to become the fifth largest manufacturing country in the world by the end of 2020. The government has initiated the ‘Make in India’ programme in order to increase the manufacturing output from 16% to 25% of GDP by 2022. The Indian automotive sector, which is the largest buyer of metal cutting machines, accounts for 7% of India’s GDP. This is expected to increase to 12% by the year 2026. The National Electric Mobility Mission 2020 has a vision to sell more than 6 million hybrid & electric vehicles annually by 2020, which will open up new avenues for investment and manufacturing. With these possibilities, exciting times are ahead for manufacturing in India.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

Selling machine solutions is our business. But it gives us even greater satisfaction when we are able to increase the productivity in our customer’s plant. Our motivation is to increase our customers’ competitiveness. We have many success stories. In one such successful venture, we were able to reduce the production time by half and part set-up time by more than 70% with one of our customers in Coimbatore by providing our machine solutions.

“Focus on R&D to develop futuristic products” — KV Suresh, Country Head, ZF India

What are the most essential things that make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

India’s manufacturing industry is one of the most competitive industries in the world. India’s talent pool of highly qualified professionals and abundance of labour makes it an ideal environment to set-up facilities. With a strong R&D base and developing infrastructure, manufacturers in India are able to make products that meet the global quality standards. The Indian economy has got worldwide recognition due to the ‘Make in India’ initiative. This initiative has been pushing companies to invest and emphasise on local manufacturing in India. With the current policies, India is on the path of becoming the hub for global manufacturing giants.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition and demanding customers?

With the changing times, one should not be apprehensive about experimenting or taking risks but at the same time, it should be strategic. There is no harm in taking calculative risks. The major focus should be on R&D to develop futuristic products that have new offerings for the customers. However, as important as it is to embrace new technology and put it to use, it is equally important to focus on feasibility of production and quality. One should benchmark their technology with contemporary technology in developed nations, both in terms of products and processes.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

Companies have to be future-ready to sustain competition in the market and stay relevant. Manufacturers must embrace advance manufacturing technologies like Additive Manufacturing, advanced robotics, Industrial Internet of things (IIOT) and augmented reality for improved productivity. Quality consistency should be maintained at all stages to retain customers and do good business.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to, in the next 5 years?

Technology is going to disrupt the Indian manufacturing industry in the coming years. With advanced solutions, manufacturers can increase efficiency, get better output, increase productivity and sell bigger volumes. Automation will take over production lines so there will be less margin of error. India will play a pivotal role in the global manufacturing scenario. In the next five years, India will be a major sourcing hub for manufacturing and exports globally.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

The FY2016-17 was a good year for ZF. Sales in 2016 increased by 20.6% globally. ZF India has been able to increase the market share in the business. The volumes in the product lines which are established have grown organically and we have also been able to add new customers. On the products which are getting launched, both the teething problems in both manufacturing and the application are getting addressed. We expect these products also to grow in the immediate future. We also recently set up our first technology centre, which is being increasingly recognised for its diverse talent pool for global development projects.

“Need to invest in the latest innovations” — Kishore AP, Country Manager – India, ANCA Machine Tools

What are the most essential things to make the Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the current situation and progress in this area?

India has moved away from its traditional socialist system and accelerated efforts to liberalise economic reforms. The country’s healthcare systems, under-developed physical infrastructure, and policy & regulatory environments need to develop. We also need to improve the safety at work sites, which will be achieved through continuous education and commitment from all levels from senior management to manufacturing workers. For Indian manufacturing to remain competitive, we need to keep abreast of these trends and ensure we are reaping the benefits of automation, better data analytics and lights out production offer. For example, since 2014 the number of our customers ordering machines with robot loaders has increased from 10% to 50%. Robotics now have greater capabilities and more flexible applications in the grinding process. With increased capability, simple automated loading applications have been followed by wheelpack changes and other possibilities.

What do you think should be the Manufacturing Leadership Approach today, in context with the volatile economy, rapidly changing technology, increasing globalisation & competition, and demanding customers?

Rapid changing technology demands rapid technological innovation. In the past five to ten years, advanced manufacturing technologies have altered long-standing patterns of productivity and employment. Improved air and sea transportation has also impacted by greatly accelerating the worldwide flow of people and goods. Leading the adoption of new technology, enabling better sharing of industry knowledge and acquiring the best talent are key to taking advantage of this new era of globalisation. While this presents challenges, it is pushing the manufacturing industry to think outside of the box.

Becoming future-ready is one of the major visions for the manufacturing industry. What will be your recommendations to achieve the desired level?

We know that greater automation, connected machines and advanced software solutions are key for any manufacturing company to get ahead. As technology continues to advance, things are changing more rapidly than expected. Relying on outdated equipment and manual processes is going to put businesses behind rather than ahead. But on the flip side, the possibilities with new technology are limitless which is why it is crucial to invest in the latest innovations if you want to be future-ready.

Where do you see the Indian manufacturing heading to, in the next 5 years?

The future is bright. However, we need to ensure we are cultivating the brightest minds in the industry. Government programmes like ‘Skill India’ and ‘Make in India’ will help us build our local knowledge and capabilities.

If you were to present a success story of your company, what would you like to highlight in it?

Our office at Bengaluru enables us to improve our customer service, spare parts delivery and machine demonstration & training. The larger facility along with a substantial investment in a local software R&D team also allows us the ability to respond to our customers’ needs immediately. Every day, we strive to be an agile world class leader in supplying innovative technology. We invest in our design to ensure we are known for being a manufacturer of high quality and innovative products & solutions for our Indian customers. The investment in local facilities and a local service team has resulted in a 40% increase of sales with new customers – a major achievement for our team and business.

Image Gallery

  • L Krishnan, Managing Director, Taegutec India

  • Gautam K Ahuja, Managing Director, Dormer Tools India

  • Parag Alekar, CEO, Nicolas Correa S.A.-India Branch

  • Punit Gupta, Managing Director, Blaser Swisslube India

  • Ravi Raghavan, MD & CEO, Bharat Fritz Werner

  • A P Jayanthram, Managing Director, Heidenhain Optics & Electronics India

  • Jeff Liker, Professor—Industrial & Operations Engg, University of Michigan; President – Liker Lean Advisors; Partner—The Toyota Way Academy & Lean Leadership Institute

  • N Ravichandran, Chief Mentor, UCAL Fuel Syatems, Former Executive Director, Lucas TVS

  • Sanjeev Baitmangalkar, Strategy & Lean Management Consultant, Stratmann Consulting

  • NK Dhand, Chairman, Micromatic Grinding Technologies

  • Shailesh Sheth, A Corporate Strategy Advisor and Past President, IMTMA

  • BC Rao, Managing Director, Kennametal India

  • Manjit Singh Matharoo, CEO, Matharoo & Matharoo Inc

  • CR Sudheendra, President—India, United Grinding

  • KV Suresh, Country Head, ZF India

  • Kishore AP, Country Manager – India, ANCA Machine Tools

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