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Expert Interview

CEO, Micromatic Machine Tools P Ltd.

Mr. T. K. Ramesh is the Chief Executive Officer of Micromatic Machine Tools P Ltd. the marketing company of the 1200 crore Ace Micromatic Group the largest machine tool group in India. The groups manufactures CNC Lathes, Machining Centres, CNC Grinders machine tool automation sub systems like turrets & ATC’s Productivity monitoring solutions and market their products globally with offices in Europe, China and a wide dealer network. They have been participating in international exhibitions since the nineties and are in the forefront of Indian machine tool exporters. Contact: rameshtk@acemicromatic.com

1.     ACE is the market leader in the Indian Machine Tool Segment. Do you see the Make In India program boosting the requirement of Machine Tools? How can the Indian Machine Tool Industry address this surge in demand?

Definitely yes, Make in India program has helped create a feel good factor for the manufacturing sector, the FY16-17 just ended with excellent numbers for Ace Micromatic Group as well as for the whole Machine tool industry. Ace Micromatic Group surpassed their best ever results which were in FY11-12, in Machining Centers we surpassed our best results by close to 30% and in Turning Centers we surpassed our best performance by close to 20%.

There is an emphasis on Policy making for the manufacturing industry. This is having a positive pulse in the market. The F17-18 started on a positive note, in the initial 2 months the order inflow and dispatches surpassed the previous year totals. A large number of Customers are talking to Ace Micromatic Group for their automotive components. This is largely because a lot of automotive component manufacturing is moving eastwards. The Global markets look at China, Thailand, Indonesia when it has to source components in millions. India has its own advantages when the components need to be sourced in hundred of thousands.

I feel, the real advantage of Make in India is yet to come. This will have to be a bigger program with 15-20 years of time horizon with defined milestones to be evaluated every 3 to 5 years.

Historically, as there is a surge in demand the imports rises. Machine tool industry as a whole has to lay an emphasis on capacity building. By, capacity building I mean that not just the Machine tool manufacturing, but the entire ecosystem of Tools, Coolants, Fixtures, Capacity Building in people etc. The industry must be committed to expand their capacity to Sell and Service more machines,

Global Machine tool consumption for Indian Machine tools is relatively small, the global market share is less than 2%. For Ace Micromatic Group the export share is around 10 to 12 %.

Ace Micromatic Group has a vision for Capacity Building. We have been doubling the production capacity every few years. For example of around 10,000 CNC Lathe consumption in India Ace Micromatic Group has a share of around 30%. The mantra for Ace Micromatic Group is to create capacity, physical capacity, capacity to support, service, design, handhold the customers.

One more important factor here is that the customers need to expand their horizons, and think of competing in the global market. Ace Micromatic Group is committed to help the customers to expand and make them ready for competing in the global market with a cost advantage. We are committed to build an eco-system to make India competitive in the global scenario with Cost advantage and Quality advantage. This will help us realize the dream of Make in India

2.    In today’s world the technological advantage gap diminishes at a very fast rate, one has to be Researching and Innovating at a fast pace to keep ahead of competition. Can you please let us know about the Innovation which the market should expect and the Research behind it? How will the prices be made competitive to include the research and innovation?

When we talk about Research, Research essentially can be fundamental research and Incremental research.

Fundamental research focuses on, finding better material, technologies, breakthrough in processes, etc. 

Incremental Research focuses on the things which are known to us and we want to improve. Say for e.g. a part which is made today in 20 minutes, we need to make in 10 minutes. To achieve this a cross functional team of the Customer, Representatives from Machine tools, Cutting Tool, Coolant, Casting, will come together and study the issues on machine, coolant, material. They come up with a techno commercial feasibility and viability of the improvement.  

When we talk about Machine tool technology the weakest element in the whole process is not the machine, but the part that is machined. There are problems like Issues of safety, Issues related to holding the components with enough force, Part distortion, Inconsistency, Lower level of accuracy. We still have not been able to exploit the full advantage of the innovation made with reference to the cutting time due to issues of safety, chip disposal, etc.

Innovation in all about knowing the limitations and reducing or eliminating the limitations. For e.g.: If some activity is hazardous can we have a technology to replace a human intervention and use robots or can a work piece be secured more strongly or more accurately. It is a continuous process, we need to look at the problems and have out of box solutions, use examples from almost any field. For e.g. Guarding is traditionally made using Steel and sheet metal now can this can be changed to Fiber-reinforced plastic, with this the problems like rusting shall be eliminated, this will enhance the esthetic value, different shapes, reduction in weight.

It is all about bringing in the best practices from all the walks of life and to see what can be adopted to overcome the limitations. For e.g. Ace Micromatic Group innovated and brought a concept from the food industry of having franchise. In Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities we have 6 franchisees helping in working with the customers and about 9 to 10% of the sales come through franchisees.

All these innovation should be broken down small projects with a quick adaptability say 90, 120, 180 days or so. All these small projects together will give the competitive advantage.

The new buzz word is IIOT or Industry 4.0, Building intelligence into the manufacturing processes. i.e. methodologies to collect and record the actual data in real time and analyses the data. Ace Micromatic Group has implemented TPMtrak in last 10 years on thousands of machines. This captures data and does the analysis for production monitoring and productivity enhancement- measuring productivity, Energy use, tool life, setup, change over time, Good part/ Bad part analysis, Gauging the part, Gauge output connected to the machine. The hardware which goes on the machine has the ability to read the data and take corrective action like tool offset etc.

3.     What is your advice to industrial units who do not have a full-fledged capital equipment purchase team?

Today the SMEs is staying in business as an outcome of their technical acumen and entrepreneurial spirit, they believe that making components are all about investment, creating capacity and satisfying the customer. An SME should understand that to run the machine is about investment, right tool, productivity and competitiveness. Sharpening internal manpower with better engagement is an urgent requirement. Getting cost effective solution does not only mean cutting costs. SMEs need to change their mindset to make a difference.

Buying a capital equipment has been just one part where as effectively using is another, leading the team to improve, focus on qualitative aspects. In this whole process they should also focus on the people who maintain, run, and clean machine. The people working on the machine understand how the machine is used or abused, their involvement and their inputs and feedback can help in buying. Right mix of operational and Maintenance people has to be made. Whatever data you have, it could be small, machine related issue, part related, tool related, data or intelligent will help SME to buy better, use better and be competitive. It will help to identify overhead cost and determine the total cost of ownership.

There should also be a focus on documentation with regards to the maintenance, operation and the production activities. With the effective use of data the SMEs can make a good Buying decision.

Buying good machine and buying correct machine is different aspect, for buying a correct machine it is important the machine selection is right and the cost is right. It is not buying the cheapest machine, it is about buying a machine which capable of growing with your needs and your incremental cost. Customers should be forward looking and for a small differential of 15-20% if they are can opt for an advance machine which will give them flexible capability, they should stretch their budgets and go for the advance machine. For e.g. when we compare a VMC with a VMC with auto pallet changer the 25% cost differential of the VMC with auto pallet changer is justified when we see there is a productivity improvement. 

4.     Do you offer any machine financing options?

Lot of financing options are available. The purpose of our technology center is to create an eco-system for, tooling stabilizer, coolant, and financing options. We work together and make the customer successful.

5.     What are your aspirations for the global market? Do you have any acquisition plan?

As of now, we do not have any plan for acquisition for manufacturing and technology. We feel that a lot can be done with our existing technology. Acquisition focus is on dealers, marketing companies and distributors and expanding the markets.

6.     Can you please let us know about the progress in setting up new facility?

Ace Designers have set up the foundry with a 10,000 MT capacity, close to Tumkur and it has been operational now. We have started using some castings of our own foundry.  The purpose of setting up this facility is partly for internal consumption and partly for supply to the market. Assembly and manufacturing of CNC Lathes is the next phase that is a work in progress. From present level where we manufacture CNC Lathe 3000 with our plan for new plant in Tumkur we plan to make it to 5000 machines per annum, For VMCs at AMS we have an installed capacity of 1500 machines which will be doubled to 3000 machine by 2020, this plant expansion is in Bangalore at the existing premises.

7.     What is your opinion about Marketplaces like GetMy Machine?

We feel that the Digital marketing is the way forward. We are aligning towards it and are tracking the people who come to the website. One area of improvement is now everything has moved from paper to pdf, machine history problem tracking knowledge base has been digitized, giving access to the customers we believe will be good for the better performance of the machine.

Last year on Avg. We received around 40-50 qualified leads per month. We are working on mindset change of people internally, making them more web friendly. A lot of behavioral change which needs to happen, and it will take over in the next few years.

We are satisfied by the engagement with GetMy Machine. We look at advertising as a committed necessary branding cost. You should add services like database of machine specifications, work for the customers to calculate cycle time, provide technical expertise for cycle time, document process which will help the customers. We wish GetMyMachine all the best and look forward to work together on a long-term basis.