What are the recent trends you have witnessed in the area of sheet metal working industry?
Recently, the market has been aligning towards fibre laser technology. We have a technical centre based in Bangalore that displays our latest fibre laser machines. Amada has invested around 140 crores on its own to open a Greenfield project for the technical centre. We, in Amada, believe that unless you show the customers, you can’t gain their confidence and unless you support them, it is very difficult to sell.
Can you brief us more on the Amada India Technical Centre in Bangalore?
The technical centre is established on the procured land from KSIIDC. We have around 4 to 5 laser machines with both CO2 and fibre technology and also, we have a lot of punching and bending machines. The main focus of the technical centre is verification. Customer comes and verifies the product. They can measure how much time it is going to take during the machining process, what is the cost of producing the component, etc. We support them on how to make it better and how to improve the overall performance and quality. Additionally, our vocational training is one of the biggest advantages for our customers wherein they can send their operators, programmers and maintenance personnel to understand and work with the machine better. Plus, we stock our own spare parts in India. So, in case of any breakdowns, the machines will be supplied with the spare parts and put back into operation.
In recent years, automation has played a role in every industry. What is its impact in the sheet metal working industry?
Right now, the concept in India is that manpower is cheap. But, this mindset is changing radically. Cheap labour does not necessarily mean that you will get more productivity and reliability. That’s why in our technical centre, we are proposing a simple automation. If you are going to produce a component using a high-speed machine, it will take time while unloading and loading the next part, which defeats the whole purpose of using a high-speed machine. So, you need to have automation that augments the productivity in the high-speed machine. Similarly, for bending machine, if you have a very high-end bending machine, but you don’t have automation in it, then you will not get the desired accuracy and finish. That’s how we propose to the customer and they are accepting it.
Can you highlight the difference between fibre and CO2 laser technology in terms of its affordability by the SME sector?
The biggest advantage of the fibre laser machine is its low running cost whereas the initial investment cost is higher. For example, if a CO2 consumes 40 KW, fibre laser consumes 12 to 13 KW. Thus, there prevails a huge gap of power consumption. Moreover, the limitation of the fibre is that if you want a very good finish on the stainless steel, CO2 can do a better job. So, it depends on the customer’s requirement and the application. Unlike others who have stopped making CO2 and push only fibre, we have both. Therefore, whatever the customers’ requirement or application, we can provide them with the required solution.
Going forward, how are you strategising your business model to enhance your market presence in India?
Our strategy will depend on our customer requirements. Our main focus is not to give them only a standalone but a complete end-to-end solution: machine, software, proper training, service support, etc. So, the customer is free to run the machine for five or ten years and we will take care of the machine. That’s the entire package we are offering to them.