"Dormer Pramet has ambitious growth plans in Asia, with a focus on India"

  • Interviews
  • Apr 30,24
In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Amit Raina, Country Manager for India, Dormer Pramet (a leading global supplier of metal cutting tools and related services), shares his views on the industry trends and the company’s future plans in India.

Dormer Pramet is a leading global supplier of metal cutting tools and related services. With their two global product brands, Dormer and Pramet, the company can boast more than 150 years of specialist cutting tool knowledge and experience. Dormer Pramet’s huge variety of rotary and indexable tooling can meet virtually all hole-making, turning, milling and threading needs, from one single, simple source. The company’s wholly owned and controlled production facilities in Europe, Asia and Americas, and a strategically placed distribution network. Furthermore, following the acquisition of Miranda Tools in December 2020, we have expanded our operations to include a manufacturing facility in Ankleshwar, Gujarat. Amit Raina, Country Manager for India, Dormer Pramet, in this interview with Rakesh Rao, shares the company’s expansion plans in India.

Can you give us tell us about your presence in Indian and the company’s recent acquisition with Miranda Tools?
In 2020, Dormer Pramet acquired the plant of Miranda Tools located in Ankleshwar, Gujarat. This acquisition bolstered our presence in India, where we operate our sole manufacturing facility in India. Our Ankleshwar plant specialises in the production of high-speed steel cutting tools, catering to industries such as automotive, heavy engineering, and metalworking. While previously our tools were primarily sourced from our European Distribution Centre, the Ankleshwar facility now fulfils specific product lines, alongside supplies sourced from our European distribution centre. Globally, Dormer Pramet operates three dedicated manufacturing facilities: one in Ankleshwar, India; another in Sao Paolo, Brazil; and the third in Šumperk, Czech Republic.

Regarding the acquisition of Miranda Tools in 2020, could you elaborate on the synergy between the two companies and the subsequent benefits realised by Dormer Pramet? 
For Dormer Pramet, establishing a presence in the Indian market was paramount. Globally, Asia has emerged as a significant region in comparison to Europe and America. Dormer Pramet's footprint in Asia has been relatively modest, making the acquisition of Miranda crucial for expanding our presence in the region. Miranda not only provides us with production capacity but also serves as a strategic foothold in Asia. Our Ankleshwar plant is now fully integrated, manufacturing not only Miranda products but also Dormer Pramet and other brands. The synergy between Dormer Pramet and Miranda strengthens our position as one of the leading companies in high-speed steel (HSS) products such as drills and taps. Miranda's competitive production facility in India, serves as a launchpad for our growth in Asia. 

Could you share your insights on the growth of the Indian cutting tools market in the recent years?
The Indian cutting tool market has exhibited growth trends, despite disruptions caused by the Covid pandemic. Contributing to this growth are various key factors such as the Make in India initiative and the automotive sector, which remains a significant driver in the Indian market. Government support, particularly through investments in infrastructure and the Make in India initiative, has played a pivotal role. 

Regarding the materials utilised in these cutting tools, have you observed any notable shifts?
Changes in machining materials are evident, possibly influenced by electrification and additive machining. Such shifts impact design and the durability of end products. Manufacturers are increasingly opting for materials like aluminium, particularly in hard part machining, and are exploring advancements in forging technologies to reduce rusting. Moreover, there's a notable rise in the usage of round tools and aluminium-based materials for cutting, driven partly by their enhanced efficiency and reduced tool wear. Despite the growing prevalence of electric vehicles (EVs), traditional cutting methods still hold significance. While EVs streamline manufacturing processes by reducing the need for certain machined parts, this transition is expected to be gradual.

What are the current challenges encountered by manufacturers in India? What solutions does your company offer to address these issues?
Indian manufacturers face constant price pressure due to the competitive environment. India's substantial population of 1.4 billion makes it an attractive market for global players across various sectors, including cutting tool manufacturing and automotive. This intensifies the pressure on pricing. In response, manufacturers must focus not only on cost but also on productivity to remain competitive. Automation is increasingly becoming necessary to enhance productivity, reliability, and quality. Consequently, there is a growing trend of integrating automation solutions to optimise production processes and reduce overall costs. Global & local integrators, are emerging as key players in this domain.

From Dormer Pramet’s perspective, offering a wide range of products is crucial. Unlike many competitors who specialise in specific types of cutting tools, Dormer Pramet provides a comprehensive portfolio, covering everything from HSS to high-end robotic machines. This breadth allows Dormer Pramet to serve as a one-stop solution provider, catering to diverse customer needs across different price points and performance levels. Given the varied equipment setups in today's manufacturing facilities, Dormer Pramet’s versatility ensures it can address the requirements of clients operating everything from conventional to CNC and robotic machines. This comprehensive approach underscores Dormer Pramet’s commitment to delivering value to its customers.

Could you please elaborate on the research and development initiatives your company is undertaking to address the specific requirements of machine manufacturers?
Lightweighting constitutes a key aspect of the overarching solution. It is driven by two primary factors: energy efficiency and additive machining. Additive machining enables the creation of parts with more integrated designs, consolidating multiple components into a single piece. This process contrasts with subtractive machining, where material is removed from a block to achieve the desired shape, often resulting in significant material wastage. With additive machining, the need for excess material is minimised, leading to more efficient utilisation. Consequently, the weight reduction of components is substantial. 

Traditionally, cutting tools utilised in subtractive machining are being replaced by more efficient alternatives suited to additive processes, such as semi-finish and round tools. This shift not only optimises material consumption but also enhances precision and accuracy in manufacturing. As part of our commitment to lightweighting, we are actively expanding our tooling portfolio to meet evolving industry demands, particularly in semi-finish applications. Our strategic focus also involves enhancing retention capabilities and elevating our product offerings to align with future requirements.

In light of significant government investments and advancements in railways, defence, aerospace, and electrical and electronics sectors over the past few years, what opportunities does your company anticipate in these areas?

Regarding railway projects such as Vande Bharat and others announced by the government, significant investments are anticipated. We are actively engaged in numerous ongoing projects within this sector, leveraging our expertise as a core strength. Our company maintains a dedicated railway track catalogue showcasing innovative solutions. 

With extensive experience in European and other global markets, particularly within the railway segment, we are well-positioned to provide tailored solutions to our customers. We are optimistic about the abundant opportunities emerging in India and beyond, especially considering the current and forthcoming projects in the railway sector. Notably, there is a noticeable interest from both private and government entities in manufacturing wheels and tracks, presenting promising prospects for our involvement. Recognising the shortage of wheels in ongoing projects, we view this as a significant opportunity. While confidentiality restricts us from elaborating on specific projects, we are actively engaged in initiatives related to wheels, tracks, and other railway components, areas where we excel.

Defense, along with electronics, forms a pivotal sector for Dormer Pramet. As part of our strategic approach, we are aggressively pursuing mergers and acquisitions to enhance our portfolio in these segments. Our existing repertoire of aerospace products and clientele lays a strong foundation, with promising new products in the pipeline. Moreover, we are actively scouting for potential acquisitions globally, including in Asia and India, to optimise our operational efficiency.

With the growing emphasis on automation and sustainability, how is your company addressing these trends to provide tools and solutions that assist customers in meeting their objectives in these areas?  
When discussing automation, it can be segmented into two components: the initiatives undertaken by our company and our contribution to the automation endeavours of our clientele. 

Regarding our internal efforts, sustainability and automation are integral aspects of Dormer Pramet’s productivity and operational efficiency strategies. Automation, particularly through AI, has been incorporated into our quality control processes, exemplified by the utilisation of AI for precise dimensional checks of inserts. Demonstrations of these automation tools can be found on our LinkedIn and YouTube platforms, showcasing our commitment to efficiency and quality enhancement. Furthermore, at our Ankleshwar plant in India, our investment in robotic machinery, reinstates our dedication to cost-effective, high-quality production methods.

In terms of sustainability, significant transformations are underway within our facilities to minimise water consumption, reduce energy usage, and mitigate pollution. A notable initiative involves the phased replacement of traditional salt water furnaces with environmentally friendly vacuum furnaces, aligning with our commitment to sustainability and regulatory compliance.

From a customer-centric perspective, our products are sourced sustainably, with many utilising recycled carbides. Our brand ethos, defined by reliability, is particularly crucial in the context of automation, ensuring uninterrupted operations within automated lines. Additionally, our vending solutions streamline procurement processes, providing customers with efficient inventory management tools.

On the social responsibility front, we have undertaken several initiatives, including supporting education by donating laptops to students in a village near our Ankleshwar facility. Furthermore, we have enhanced the external landscape of our premises, setting a precedent for environmental stewardship among neighbouring plants.

In summary, our approach to automation and sustainability encompasses both internal operational enhancements and external community engagement, reflecting our commitment to comprehensive and responsible business practices.

What are your strategic growth initiatives for India?
Dormer Pramet has ambitious growth plans in Asia, with a specific focus on India, which is considered a key market. The acquisition of Miranda has provided a strong foundation for production and an extensive end user distribution network. Over the next three to four years, significant growth is anticipated in the Indian market.

Expansion plans for the Ankleshwar plant are currently underway, involving investments in machinery, automation, and vacuum furnaces. This process is being carried out incrementally, with a focus on technological integration and future-oriented planning. As Ankleshwar is now part of our global production network, efforts are being made to introduce advanced technology while considering future requirements.

Currently, some of our products are exported, while India serves as a significant sales entity, the plant operates as a global production hub, catering to markets worldwide. As capacity and technology are enhanced, this facility will contribute substantially to the Make in India initiative, potentially manufacturing a wide range of products for global distribution.

Regarding changes in end user industries, the railway sector is expected to see growth, although automotive remains dominant, accounting for 65-70 per cent of the market. While the railway sector may see a modest increase, automotive is likely to maintain its prominence in the India region. However, incremental growth opportunities are anticipated in the railway sector due to our specialised segment expertise, which can benefit our customers.

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