Machine Tools, or the ‘mother machines’, that make machines for manufacturing and other industry segments like automotive, play a vital role in any economy. India has about 1000 machine tool Industry units that produce tools, accessories, attachments, subsystems, and parts. The big 25 of them account for about 70 percent of the industry turnover and supply mostly to OEMs. The others are medium and small-scale units that cater mainly to the ancillary units. Many machine tool manufacturers have CE Marking certification to meet the requirements of the European markets. Driven by demand from key user segments, such as automobiles, aerospace and consumer durables, the industry is bracing up with sophisticated CNC machines. “With the widening gap between demand and supply there is need for capacity addition and new investments in this sector,” V Anbu, Director General and CEO, Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers’ Association (IMTMA), told T Murrali of AutoParts Asia in an exclusive interview. Edited excerpts:
Q: Change has become constant in every industry with several disruptive technologies and the emergence of alternative methodologies of manufacturing. What are the changes that you see in the machine tool industry in India and abroad?
Anbu: Technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, big data, and the like are transforming manufacturing in a big way. Factories are ramping up their shop floor activities by deploying these technologies. Among them Industry 4.0 is influencing the process chain in two significant ways, in terms of technology and engineering, and in terms of data flow. It is quite evident that technologies such as these will increase the productivity levels besides fulfilling the demand of its customers.
Q: Electric mobility in the long run will eliminate about 30 percent (in terms of value) of components (related to engines, gearbox and exhaust) that go into the traditional vehicles. How will this trend influence the machine tool industry?
Anbu: Automotive sector is a major consumer of machine tools. E-mobility in Indian transport is a long-term plan. The push given for e-vehicles may have an impact on machine tool industry in years to come. However, machine tool builders are catering to other industry sectors like defence, aerospace and medical equipment engineering. This will make up for the losses which machine tool industry may face from e-vehicles invading the auto sector space.
Q: New mobility demands development of new components / systems / modules, technologies; do you see opportunities or threats for machine tool industry?
Anbu: New opportunities will emerge in vehicle component manufacturing and battery assemblies.
Q: Will the machine tool industry be able to cater to the above demand?
Anbu: Many from traditional forms of manufacturing are moving towards additive manufacturing and other processes.
Q: The Indian government is looking at increasing the share of the manufacturing sector in gross domestic product (GDP) to 25 percent by 2025 from its current level of 15 percent, supporting just 12 percent of the workforce. What will be the contribution of the machine tool industry to achieve this goal?
Anbu: The country is focusing on infrastructure development to enhance growth. This gives opportunity for OEMs to supply requisite technology and products. The need for skilled workforce is met through training programmes conducted by IMTMA. New product development and innovations done at institutional levels are being commercialised to put them to use by industries which will support the growth of manufacturing industries. IMTMA through its long-term programmes conducted at its Technology Centres in Bangalore, Pune and Gurugram are enhancing the skills of engineers and making them industry-ready.
Q: India stands tenth in production and eighth in consumption of machine tools in the world. What is IMTMA’s role in raising the production stature?
Anbu: Indian machine tool industry is emerging as one of the leading industries in the world. The country was ranked tenth in production and eighth in consumption as per Gardner’s ‘World Machine Tool Output Survey 2018’ for the year 2017. To enhance this further under the Scheme for Enhancement of Competitiveness of the Capital Goods Industry, the Government of India has set up an Advanced Manufacturing Technology Development Centre at IIT-Madras to engage in world-class R&D in machine tools. The government has also set up the Tumakuru Machine Tool Park in Karnataka. IMTMA is playing an enabling role in this.
Q: Does India have the required technological strengths to compete with the global machine tool industry? What should be done to be competitive?
Anbu: The innovation and R&D taking place in academic institutions needs to be commercialised. Government needs to support the industry and invest more in its development.
The academia, industry and the government need to work together to strengthen the manufacturing chain. This would probably reduce the burden of imports and strengthen internal capabilities on technology fronts.
Q: What is your view on additive manufacturing?
Anbu: Additive manufacturing has transformed the way in which products are designed, developed, manufactured and distributed.
Automotive industry advancements in technology have opened doors for new designs, cleaner, lighter and safer products, shorter lead times and safer products.
Original equipment manufacturers and suppliers are known for using additive manufacturing for rapid prototyping. Auto component industry can also use additive manufacturing for product innovation.
Q: What is your view on Industry 4.0 and IoT? When will this hit the Indian manufacturing units? Will there be a transformation in the machine tool industry?
Anbu: The usage of Industry 4.0 makes it possible to gather and analyse data across machines, enables faster, more flexible and efficient processes to produce higher quality goods at reduced costs. This can increase productivity and foster industrial growth. With India aiming to increase the manufacturing sector contribution to its GDP, Industry 4.0 will play a prominent role.