Please tell us about Timken’s performance in the recent quarters and your target industry sectors.
For the last 3 to 4 years, Timken in India has been delivering a double digit CAGR growth. We have been growing strongly in the heavy commercial, agriculture and railway sectors. Apart from this, our penetration is growing due to the top quality in sectors like, metal, cement, infrastructure , etc. We have been delivering profitable growth, despite the fact that the commodity pricing has gone up significantly in the last two years. However, the demand has been strong enough for companies in this space to do well.
Plus, with huge technological changes taking place in India, it is proving helpful for companies like us, who work at the cutting edge of the technology. As we cater to all applications covering from mobile sector (anything with wheels on it) to all kinds of stationary equipment, coupled with a powerful reach in India, we have been able to add lot of value to our end-customers. For example, we take pride in the fact that we are working very closely on projects where tunnels have to be bored for say METRO application or for prestigious trains like Train 18. Harsher the application, more the need for high performing bearings is where we fit in very comfortably.
Could you tell us about your expansion plans? After merging with ABC Bearings, are there any other plans for merging and further expansion?
We have doubled the capacity in our plant in Jamshedpur in the last two years, and it is already a centre of excellence for the Global Rail mobility. Timken In India is also investing at our Chennai facility which caters to large size industrial applications from around the globe. The Chennai facility is not part of Timken India limited but part of TERI.
So, is the merger with ABC Bearings more of a value addition?
The merger with ABC Bearings is more of a capacity play and brings speed to the market. Here is a company with unutilised capacities that also caters to the heavy commercial and agricultural industry. This capacity can be upgraded to the quality levels which can qualify for the prestigious Timken brand and then be opened for the export play. So we are working on upgrading the facility on the technology front and at the same time, preserve the culture and ethos of the company.
What is the current manufacturing capacity at Timken? Which end-users are driving the demand for roller bearings and gear drives?
In 2018, we saw that the commercial vehicle and the agriculture demand were very good and we had a very stable rail demand.
How easy is it, in your opinion, to start and expand a manufacturing plant in India?
India is a vast country that is governed by the central federal and state laws. The ease of doing manufacturing in the country is getting better with every passing day. The last four years have been phenomenal in this regard but nowhere close to global standards. We still have to battle a lot of approvals which slowly are getting changed to a single window clearance system. With digitisation, things are becoming easy, but there is still a long way to go. Start a new factory or expand an existing factory, the rigor is the same. So all this has to become more simple in the times to come. It also means that the investing companies have to be more responsible and very transparent.
How has the ‘Make in India’ initiative played a part in the manufacturing plants in India?
The ‘Make in India’ initiative is a concept that every country would like to have. Every country would like to do its own manufacturing for the simple reason that it provides not only better taxation base but also critical mass for jobs. At an intellectual level, India has decided that it’s not good to import more goods. For example, India has imported products worth more than US$ 5 billion in the engineering space alone in the last 10 years. One can imagine the number of jobs created if half of that was manufactured in India. To implement the ‘Make in India’ initiative in totality, localisation and quality of the product is important. A structured beginning of ‘Make in India’ has been made and is attracting investment already, encouraging people to produce more in the country. What’s more, India has the DNA to become the global manufacturing base. So, we need Skill India, Infrastructure India, Taxation India, etc. to expand ‘Make in India’ easily. Having said this, we cannot manufacture everything in India, so we, as a manufacturing nation, will have to choose what is good for us as a value driver. At the end of the day, all nations would look at the trade balances and hence, we also have to be a global citizens and help everyone achieve growth.
What are the manufacturing challenges in India and how can they be dealt with?
Today, India is opening its doors to major changes, providing lots of jobs and opportunities. So, manufacturing is going to be the buzzword for many years to come in India. With that, resources are limited. This must be supported by the eco-system, which in turn, needs to be supported by the Government. And the Government has positively been trying to overcome these challenges in the last 3-4 years. Even if the speed of overcoming the challenges is slow, the change is happening. The company act and labour laws are changing. Even environmental laws are becoming manufacturing-friendly, without damaging the environment.