Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of the Indian manufacturing industry. They contribute 38 percent to the nation’s GDP, 37 percent to its manufacturing output and 40 percent to its exports. Moreover, the segment is always buzzing with innovations. Companies are constantly transforming themselves and reinventing business models to stay one step ahead.
As the demand for high-tech and efficient machines in the industry rises, digitalisation of the production process becomes the key to higher productivity, flexibility, and efficiency, as well as simple operability and the possibility of permanent optimisation. While traditional manufacturers use various tools for milling, turning, grinding, and other applications, digitalisation is radically and sustainably changing the production environment and becoming an indispensable part of business. Very soon, it will be the new normal.
India’s machine tools industry is expected to play a key role in accelerating this manufacturing growth as they are a strategic pillar of the manufacturing industry. Machine tools industry are pivotal to the augmentation of various discrete manufacturing segments such as automobiles, defence, railways, plastic machinery, electronics, white goods etc. It will have a huge role to play in the Government’s flagship programme Make in India.
The Indian machine tool industry comprises of about 25 percent large players and the remaining 75 percent is dominated by small manufacturers and manufacturing companies.
Despite SMEs occupying majority share in the machine tools industry, they are currently facing multiple issues that are hindering its growth. The most critical issue for SMEs are continuous quality improvement, scope, and scale. Some of the major factors responsible for this are extensive manual interventions in processes, interrupted flow of data and lack of skilled manpower.
Companies these days through its build-operate-optimise approach towards digitalisation in machine tools, is enabling SMEs to take the leap. The companies offer a wide range of solution like OPC, UA etc., through its hardware and software integrations. These tools and technologies have the potential to fundamentally alter the course of SMEs growth and catapult them into the big league.
SMEs in the machine tool industry need to move towards conceptualisation and adoption of digitalisation and Industry 4.0. With this, they can enhance efficiency, reduce cost of production, minimise manufacturing defects, and shorten production time. This will help them meet international quality standards as well as strengthen their position as competent suppliers for the global market.
Digitalisation will support Indian SMEs to move one step closer to the ultimate goal of enhancing their productivity and efficiency and address their on-ground issues.
Other major challenge lies in skilling workers for using advanced machine tools. SMEs face challenges to execute their expansion plans due to the lack of skilled workers. The government’s ‘Skill India’ initiative is a great step to bridge the shortage. However, the skill gap is huge and the new-age machine tools demand major upgradation of existing skill sets. Yes, the government is taking initiatives to develop a skilled workforce, but there is a long way to go.
The machine tools industry in India will touch $1 billion in 2017 and SMEs will be the primary beneficiaries. However, for India to become a global manufacturing hub, SMEs will have to adopt advanced machine tool technologies. Sectors like aerospace, defence, medical, electronics, and automobiles have endless opportunities that can be tapped by leveraging digitalisation.
Indian machine tools manufacturers have the unique opportunity to blend the availability of advanced manufacturing technologies with low cost labour to create extraordinary competitive advantage. Automation and digitalisation will grow at a phenomenal rate and this will boost the industry and the economy.
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