Headquartered in Daegu, South Korea, TaeguTec is a part of the second biggest cutting tool manufacturing group in the world – the IMC International Metalworking Companies –which is now 100% owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Set up in 2000 and spread across 10,000 sq mts in Bengaluru, TaeguTec India supplies modern machining solutions to a wide variety of industries, such as automotive, die & mould, aerospace, power generation, etc. The facility is an AS9100 Rev C & ISO 9001:2008 accredited manufacturing entity, also certified for ISO 14001 (EMS) and OSHAS 18001 (Health and Safety).
According to L Krishnan, Managing Director, TaeguTec India, “Developments in the cutting tool industry, being an important subset of the overall manufacturing industry, are very much dovetailed with developments in the manufacturing Raising the bar on tooling industry.” Complying with these developments, he further noted that TaeguTec has a significant focus and spends on R&D globally. “We are constantly innovating on our product offerings and solutions and upgrading our manufacturing capabilities, in addition to building our customer service capabilities so as to meet the expectations of our customers,” he said.
Out of all the facilities built globally, the company takes pride in its Indian facility. The 15-year old company supplies metal cutting tools and carbide inserts with a huge assortment of turnkey solutions and tailor-mades. On that note, highlighting the range of products manufactured, K S Ravishankar, National Head – Sales, TaeguTec India, opined, “Our product lines of tungsten carbide cutting tools include inserts and holder bodies for operations, such as turning, milling, drilling, grooving,parting applications and solid carbide tools and tooling systems. We offer both turnkey solutions and tailor-mades to customers.” When asked about the trends in the Indian market for tooling products, he said, “Indian manufacturing companies are looking at improving productivity and reducing cycle time. Our customers are finding the twin benefits in using our products. We are definitely among the top three in all our chosen areas of operation.”
Quality assurance & automation
With respect to the process, the company also manufactures two distinct parts of cutting tools, namely, carbide inserts and steel carrier body, of which tailor made engineered solutions are a significant part of manufacturing activities, apart from the standard catalogue products. The production flow of carbide inserts follows the sequence of pressing, sintering, grinding, coating, and finally, finished products. For steel carrier body, the production flow series consists of pocket milling, pre-finishing & plating, assembly, inspection, marking, and packing & dispatch.
“Our USP is that we are a highly automated plant, right from processing raw materials to the final dispatch,” said Gautam B A, Head – Manufacturing, TaeguTec India. “Every station and every process is automated, limiting human intervention. Each person at his own station ensures a thorough check-up and this is followed sequentially by the next operator until the final inspection is done. This eliminates the role of quality control as the whole process revolves around quality assurance,” he added.
Highlighting the benefits of deploying automation, he said, “Automation ensures that human error is completely eliminated so repeatability is very high. Also, there is consistency in output, both in terms of quality and quantity. Additionally, the number of people who are required to operate gets limited, which means that manpower can be utilised in a more productive way rather than just loading and unloading a machine.” Adding to this, Ravishankar emphasised, “A combination of automation, well-trained personnel and advanced technology ensures a consistent product time after time.”
Focussing on operational excellence models and lean management principles, Gautam shared, “Our company is not lean in a conventional sense, but we have implemented lean initiatives in parts, such as utilising the manpower availability; following self-driven maintenance where all our processes and machines are maintained by the operator itself; and practising 5S as it brings clarity in operation. We also employ small group activities and Kaizens as these add value to productivity, safety and operator comfort.”
However, he also noted that in spite of lean management principles, the company keeps stock for customer orders. In terms of real-time connectivity between the shop floor and top floor, he elaborated, “We have a strong ERP system that gives us great efficiency with productivity. Our employees have access to the data related to order bookings and delivery commitments, which ensures negligible paper communication making the system transparent.” With respect to machines deployed in the shop floor, he shared that they are specially made for the tooling industry. “Many of our machines are imported and are state-of-the-art. Besides, we follow a visual monitoring system with charts etc. to keep track of their operations and downtimes, if any,” he mentioned.
Employee training activities
To get the best out of the manpower, the company offers skill enhancement programmes for fresh graduates and critical operators. Highlighting its scope within CSR and beyond, Gautam explained, “We regularly pick students from institutes like NTTF (Nettur Technical Training Foundation) and GTTI (Gedee Technical Training Institute, Coimbatore) for internship opportunities at our shop floors. We also run a partnership programme with NTTF called ‘Learn and Earn’, as part of which they work for two years in TaeguTec (whilst attending weekend classes at the Institute). Following another two years in other companies for extended exposure, they are awarded their diplomas.”
In fact, critical operators on the shop floor are even sent to company headquarters in Korea for varying time periods, based on the need and complexity of the process they are handling. “They get trained in both technical operations as well as organisational culture. We ensure that they are exposed to the best practices on all fronts,” he remarked. Gautam further highlighted that of the 26% of total female workforce in TT India, 13% of them are deployed on the shop floors.
Industrial safety & Green initiatives
In terms of industrial safety, the company has a zero accident record since its inception. “There has not been a single incident in the company. Within the plant, we have environmental and safety committees that meet on a monthly basis to evaluate the impact of risks and counter measures that we must take. This is a continuous ongoing process that eliminates the factors for risk,” he said.
Sustainability is also a priority and the company’s green initiatives include planting trees around the facility, rainwater harvesting, reducing fresh water consumption and recycling it through sewage treatment. “We are collaborating with the local authorities to dig recharge pits. For waste management, we segregate all waste like paper, plastic, etc that is collected and disposed separately. For hazardous waste disposal, we have a list of certified vendors who take care of it. Further, we have changed from diesel power to city power with the help of UPS, which has helped us in reducing diesel consumption to almost zero. For lighting, we have induction lights that = consume 50% less power than the conventional models. More than any compliance concerns, we are proactively on the lookout to reduce our carbon footprint,” he pointed out.
Going beyond tooling
Product development is one of the big focuses for the company. “There are new products launched in the market at regular intervals, which maintains that edge over competition. A number of patents are also filed globally considering our worldwide operations,” noted Ravishankar. In providing customised solutions, he further described that the company looks at machining applications from the customer’s point of view. A suitable solution is then designed in consultation with the customer, which then goes into manufacturing and then is proven at the customer’s end in line with the commitments made.
Speaking on TaeguTec’s digital outreach, he listed, “We have quite a few digital applications, each dedicated for a different purpose. TTAPP is the comprehensive technical mobile app for tablets and smartphone devices, which is like a virtual cyber salesman offering ongoing innovative products and machining solutions. The TaeguTec Tool Advisor software matches the customer’s application requirements with appropriate machining solutions by providing cutting tool recommendations, cutting data, power requirements and productivity results for each solution option.” The main challenge with cutting tools, he added, is that in spite of optimum design and manufacturing, a customer may not get the total benefit of the product unless it is put into the right kind of application. “So, it is necessary for the customers to put the right tool in the right application with the right parameters,” he concluded. ☐