End customers are looking for investments and expansion of machine shops

  • Industry News
  • Jun 29,22
Schaeffler India offers components and system solutions for vehicles with drive trains and hybrid and electric vehicles. The main products include clutch systems, transmission components, torsion dampers, valve train systems, camshaft phasing units, and electric drives. During an interactive interview with Trishna Mirajkar, Harsha Kadam, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Schaeffler India talks about the performance of the Indian machine tools industry.
End customers are looking for investments and expansion of machine shops

Tell us something about Schaeffler India in terms manufacturing facilities, capacity, products manufactured, end-user industries served, exports, etc.
In India, Schaeffler has strong presence since 1965 – having 4 manufacturing locations – 2 state of art manufacturing facilities in Vadodara, one in Pune and one in Hosur. Schaeffler is one of prominent names across the globe for manufacturing of bearings and system solutions for automotive and industrial applications.

How do you see the performance of the Indian machine tools industry in the recent months? What are the positive as well as the negative factors affecting the growth?
Indian machine tools industry has bounced back post covid. Experts were predicting gradual recovery in this capital intensive segment and it surprised all of them by exhibiting V shaped recovery and picked up momentum towards 4th quarter of Y2020 and looks promising for entire of Y2022.

Positives: “Make in India” initiative is helping this industry by way of getting support from suppliers and system solution providers for products that are essential for manufacturing of machine tools. Moreover, there is good pull and demand generated owing to various steps Government of India has taken to bring in momentum back in economy and end customers are now looking forward for investments and expansion of their Machine shops, which is helping Machine tool industry.

Negatives: On other hand, chip shortages - which we have seen adversely affecting auto players in recent times – is also giving negative impact and in a way working against machine tool industry, which has automotive and auto ancillaries – as one of major buyers. Although, the phenomenon could not be permanent, but surely it is and shall continue to work against machine tool manufacturers for short term period.

What are the latest trends in the industry and how is Schaeffler India focusing on them?
End customers are taking steps to boost their capital investments and expanding their machine shops, which mean that machine tool players have to and are gathering momentum in their machine manufacturing to meet deliverable expectations of their end customers. We – as Schaeffler India – are keeping close eye on the situation and want to be part of growth story of Indian machine tool industry. This is golden period for all of those, who are associated with machine tool industry in India. We are ensuring our supply chain situation is intact and meeting our customers’ requirements in this growing demand phase of industry. We have augmented our capabilities by way of installing and putting up quick center (cutting center) meant for linear guide products, which was installed during lockdown period and it is helping us to meet our customer requirement of linear products in shortest possible lead time, which earlier was dependent on importing finished products from our European plants.

Schaeffler India’s focus remains to provide optimum technical solutions, which are best of its class and exceed product performance of the end product. Indian Machine Tool association predicts 8% growth on consumption of Machine tool in India and our aim to grow better than market estimates by way of leveraging our strengths of superior and well accepted Super Precision rotary and linear products, Knowledge base of our Application Engineering in India and robust supply chain management to meet customer demands.

What kind of challenges are machine tool makers facing at present?
It is quite evident that entire world never anticipated and was not prepared for halt of economy in March’2020. Machine Tool Makers were no exception to this scenario. It is said and believed that in adverse phase of economy – “Machine tool industry is first to be affected and last to recover”. But as mentioned earlier, Indian machine tool bounced back quite smartly and despite of all odds in past couple of years, it has grown significantly and looks like it will continue to do so.

Chip shortage challenge remains and affecting auto players and their buying decisions of machine tool, but there are other avenues for machine tool segment – For example - agriculture sector, railways, aerospace / defence, general engineering - they too need such machines to make their components for variety of applications , which is keeping demand upbeat. Rise of steel prices impacted all industry using steel products and Machine tool industry too got impacted, but as mentioned it continues to overcome such constraints and emerge victorious.

Information flow – It is acknowledged by most of our customers that information flow on their demand needs to be synchronised with Schaeffler’s supply flow in these testing times, we are working very closely with our OEMs in order to ensure that we capture their demands and calibrate it to meet up expectations in shortest possible lead time.

What is the impact of declining auto sales & shift towards electric vehicles on the machine tools industry? How can industry mitigate this impact?
Change is Constant and this holds true for new trend of EVs going forward. India cannot remain aloof from Global trends and like in any other developing countries, India too has to catch up on this trend. Indeed, there are concerns on declining of Auto Sales and shift to Electric Vehicles will see change in business dynamics for Auto manufacturers and there is bound to be impact on Machine tool industry as well. For mitigating the impact, Schaeffler is also actively working in e-mobility space to provide solutions for different applications.

How is your organisation adopting digitalisation and Industry 4.0?
Digitalisation is happening across all industry segments. Machine tool industry is also experiencing this. To improve productivity and reduce cost of manufacturing, digitalisation is being introduced not only in individual machines but also in integrating several machines synchronised with process flow and machines are also being monitored to keep track of their maintenance needs. Schaeffler is also using Machine tools for its product manufacturing and is well aware of engineering needs of machine tool industry to make it more effective to deal with emerging needs of different industries. Schaeffler has introduced different sensors and sensorised rotary and linear products to meet requirements of digitalisation.

What kind of new opportunities are you looking to tap and what are your growth plans in coming years in terms of new machines/products, diversification, new applications, foray into new customer segments, etc?
Schaeffler India is closely working with key OEMs to develop solutions meant for new machines for future. Besides, we have series of new product offerings (E.g. VCM range of super precision products). These are proven products in western markets and now that India is catching up with the trends, it is time for us to also support machine tool industry with such niche products for their high end applications. We have already tasted some success in OEMs with such offerings. Besides, we are now looking up and adding more customers to meet their Linear Guides applications, which means Schaeffler is now offering entire basket of Rotary and Linear range as One Stop Solution provider to Machine tool customers.

Give us your idea about the outlook of the industry.
We strongly believe in statement that machine tools plays a vital role in manufacturing industry for any developing economy and they are called the ‘mother machines,’ because they make other machines possible. This is also well recognised by Government of India and clear steps are taken in right direction to improve its presence in global markets.

Today, Indian Machine Tool Industry is ranked at 7th position in consumption and 13th position in terms of production globally. This will change as Indian machine tool players’ upgrades their product portfolio and we will see much higher position in terms of production in coming years.

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