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India is considered a preferred destination by global manufacturing companies for setting up production facilities

Metal Cutting Machine tools in India: Opportunities in high-end products

Nov 15, 2017

As per recent industry data, high-end machine tools are majorly imported in India. This leads to widening the gap between the production and consumption ratio of the machines in India. Given that India has a high consumption rate for these high-end machines, the viewpoint section analyses how Indian manufacturers are working this out as an opportunity. Excerpts...

High-end machine tools, as the name signifies, are either large size machine tools or high-precision in nature. The local demand of such high-end machine tools, in numbers, is always much smaller (10% or less) than the total demand. To be viable, therefore, manufacturers of such high-end machine tools have to get adequate numbers from the international market through exports. Since the 90's, when the Indian manufacturing industry took off, Indian machine tool manufacturers naturally had to first concentrate on the large volume domestic demand because high-end manufacturing requires very high investments too. Besides, export of any machine tool requires deep pockets to support & sustain the export sales & services.

Internationally too, all the players of the high-end machine tools are established in their domain businesses anywhere from 50-100 years & duplicating such manufacturing & expert application capabilities in short time is almost impossible. China has taken a smart approach by buying reputed European companies of high-end machine tool & learnt their game by huge financial commitment by the Chinese Government In fact, IMTMA had also recommended this to the Indian government in the technology roadmap for the Indian machine tool industry in 2010. In the absence of the same, an alternate but much slower process that the Indian machine tool industry has started adopting is their own development of such high-end machine tools, partly supported by the DHI's grants for MT technology development through the centre of excellence set up at IIT-Madras. Very high financial & technological requirements for manufacturing such high-end MT's will allow the domestic manufacturers to make progress & reduce the consumption gap in the country very slowly.

— NK Dhand, CMD, Micromatic Grinding Solutions

The Indian machine tool industry is working towards developing new technologies and bridging the technology gap which were existing earlier. For the previous financial year 2016-17, domestic manufacturers catered to about 47% of the machine tool demand in India, which is likely to go beyond 50% in the current year. The Indian manufacturers are developing technologies in high-end machines in collaboration with prestigious institutions, such as IIT-Madras, to develop the latest technologies, which will give fruitful results in the upcoming years.

— V Anbu, Director General, IMTMA

It’s a huge but challenging opportunity to enter the high-end machine tool business. It is waiting to be picked. The challenge is the customer perception that Indian machine tool companies are not matured enough in offering solutions and risk customer investments. Indian companies would need to strategise and work to set this right. It means much investment in resources either in technology, right solutions or marketing, etc. But on the other side, regular machine tool business itself seems to keep us busy.

So, possibly the Indian companies could think of an independent subsidiary under a new brand, with the intention to approach ways and means to solve, appeal and offer high-end machines to garner these markets.

— Indradev Babu, Managing Director, UCAM

We cannot attain manufacturing excellence unless we have a robust machine tools segment. With the Government’s thrust on ‘Make in India’, we are in the global spotlight and our future capabilities and success as a leading manufacturing hub relies very much on the growth of our machine tools industry.

India is considered as the preferred destination for outsourcing by numerous global manufacturing companies, due to cost competitiveness, favourable investment conditions, ease of doing business, better engineering and designing capabilities. However, according to the 2016 World Machine Tool Survey by the Gardner Business Media, India ranks 13th in the production of machine tools globally, but it is the 10th largest consumer. This offers us a significant growth opportunity to increase production share in an expanding consumer market scenario.

Due to this demand supply gap, we rely majorly on imports. Also, majority of high-end machine tools manufacturers in India cater to the automotive industry due to which other segments route out their demands through imports. We need to enhance our manufacturing capabilities to deliver high-accuracy, niche machine tools for a wide range of industries. Technology upgradation, vigorous R&D efforts, increased investments and presence of large-size players in the industry are some of the key areas we need to act upon.

— Sudhir Mehta, CMD, Pinnacle Industries & Past Chairman, CII(WR)

Any country aspiring to be a manufacturing powerhouse must have strong and capable equipment makers for various processes and applications. Bridging the gap between production and consumption is a great opportunity for the Indian machine tool makers. Developing technologies by various means – R&D, acquisition & collaboration is key to produce high-end machines. Building this capability will also enable Indian companies to succeed in the international market and grow the exports. This is especially required for building quality solutions for upcoming manufacturing sectors in aerospace and defence.

— Sameer Kelkar, CEO and R&D Head, Grind Master Machines

The gap between the consumption of Indian machines and the international machine is huge, and it has been there since the beginning. It started way back when the technological gap between both international machines and nationally developed machines was unfathomably large. Over the period of time, it has created a deep impact over the Indian mindset. Now at the other hand, we have been attaining industrial evolution since a couple of decades. Though we have come a long way in terms of advancement, however, we are yet to cover a long distance in terms of changing the mindset. The scenario has progressed and in many industries, the high-end machinery has progressed to either assembling or manufacturing nationally. The Indian manufacturing sector has been ascending on a rapid growth since the end of 19th century and this progress has gained pace. In order to take the advantage of national high consumption rate, we crucially need collective efforts from the entire Indian industry along with the Government. Lately, we have been observing this taking place gradually.

— Maulik Patel, Executive Director, Sahajanand Laser Technology

India is considered a preferred destination by global manufacturing companies for setting up production facilities and for outsourcing, due to cost competitiveness, favourable investment conditions, better engineering & designing capabilities and above all good communication skills. The widening of gap between the production and consumption ratio of the machines in India is primarily due to the low technology solutions being manufactured in the country. In order to narrow the gap, the Indian machine tool industry needs to benchmark their equipment against technologically advanced machines, which are currently being imported. There is also a high possibility that an Indian solution, both cost-effective and efficient, will emerge from this exercise. In addition to the above, investment in R&D will enable India to be at par with the global players.

— KV Suresh, Country Head, ZF India

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