What’s the most pressing issue facing the heavy industry sector today and what are the initiatives from the government to help address it as well as support the industry for development of technology and exports?
Technology development is the foremost issue in the capital goods sector / heavy industry today. The government set-up IITs are at the forefront of providing institutional support for technology development. CSIR labs are active and DRDO labs provide support to the defense sector. A number of large private sectors have their own R&D set-ups. The Department of Science and Technology has a number of schemes to support technology development. Besides, the Start Up India movement also supports technology development in a way. MSMEs have a scheme for providing concession funds for the modernisation of machines, while the Ministry of Textile has a similar scheme for the textile sector. The Department of Heavy Industry also provides grant support for technology development. Additionally, the Ministry of Finance provides IT concessions for R&D and the Ministry of Commerce provides policy and scheme support for exports promotion.
From a technology adoption standpoint, where do you see the most room for improvement in the manufacturing industry operations in India? What are your recommendations to the industry to be at par with the global counterparts?
There are two ways of upgrading technologies being used by the industry: The first is to innovate oneself or with the help of institutes. The second is to enter into technology transfer agreements. If one wants to be at the cutting edge of technology as a corporate strategy, then the only route is through innovating oneself. If one is okay with technologies at out of phase in developed countries, then one can enter into technology transfer agreements. For best gains, innovation is preferable, as India has cost effective R&D manpower and institutes of global excellence.
Many see new digital solutions as the next wave set. From your point of view, where do you see the Indian heavy industry sector progressing in this direction?
Industry 4.0 or Smart Manufacturing is in vogue globally. Machines have to be made smart and factories have to be modernised into smart factories. Machines have to be connected to machines, while they, in turn, have to be connected to humans. The entire supply chain must be converted into Industry 4.0. This will give rise to efficiencies and productivities, which will lead to global competitiveness. IoT is to be adopted for better communication and controls. Information is to be harnessed in higher degrees for betterment of the industry. In fact, the Indian automobile sector has already begun its journey in digitalisation – today’s Indian cars have more information technology than yesterday’s. They are connected to the rest of the world through various apps and Indian automobile factories are using robotics at a higher rate. As for complex components/ sub-assemblies, they are using additive technologies. Indian machine tool companies are making smarter machines. We see an increasing trend of smart manufacturing at every IMTEX. Therefore, we are surely on the path of digitalisation, which is led by the huge government programme of Digital India, under which every service to citizens is being digitalised.
What has changed the most in the state of the heavy industry sector today in recent years?
The Indian heavy industry is rapidly modernising in terms of technologies. It is producing near global level technology products. NC/CNC components are on the rise. Industry 4.0 in factories is also increasing. Machines are smarter than ever before and are growing at ten percentage plus rates. The size of machines is increasing to global levels and performance parameters are also growing fast. Machines are becoming less resource hungry; they are consuming less power, water, lubricants and other consumables and yet, are giving better results.
Can you give us more details on the government's initiatives to take up pilot projects under the Enhancement of Global Competitiveness of Indian Capital Goods Sector scheme? Which are the sectors in this scheme and how is the progress so far?
Any capital good sector unit which wants to improve its technology with the help of IITs and similar institutions will find this scheme attractive. Units who want to have common engineering services, such as, designing, testing, training, tool room etc, will also find the scheme very useful. Under this scheme, capital goods/development is given nonreturnable grants of up to 80%. In case of Centre of Excellence, this amount can go up to ₹ 100 crore and can go up to ₹ 30 crores in case of Common Engineering Facility Centres. At least 20% of the project cost is to be borne by the beneficiary industry. This is kept because the industry commercialises the development/facility. More than five Centres of Excellence are functioning at the moment and more than 15 Common Facilities Centres are working. A total of 26 projects are at various stages of implementation and the total amount of grant committed is around ₹ 570 crore.
Where do you see the heavy industry in India in the next decade to come?
Industrial growth will be driven by the private sector. The Capital Goods Policy of 2016 sees trebling of production from ₹ 26,000 crore to ₹ 750,000 crore. A similar jump in employment, from 7 million to 25 million, is also expected. Plus, exports will be more than double. Most importantly, the technology levels of the sector will foresee tremendous growth. As a result, we expect that the import dependence of the sector will come down from 60% to 40%.