Global quality @ local price

Following the unbeaten success world-wide, KTR is all set to become largest couplings manufacturer in India.  On the sidelines of GMC & PVC expo 2011; Kumar Karandikar (manager sales) and Joachim Hofstede (general manager) speak to Relin Hedly on KTR’s journey in India and growth plan
How has the journey been for KTR since the last 15 years?
Joachim Hofstede (JH): KTR was formed as a subsidiary company of a gearbox manufacturer in Germany. The company started initially by developing gear type couplings. KTR was among the first to introduce plastic materials into power transmission technologies. Later, KTR developed the nylon gear type couplings BoWex, which consist of user-friendly features like less maintenance.  In the 60s the Rotex- Jaw type Flexible couplings were introduced. These two models are very well known and have earned their own brand name in the market.  So BoWex and Rotex are products of KTR.  Till the mid 80s, KTR built a vast range of products for standard components. Gradually, it ventured into developing specialised couplings, engineered couplings for high power drives engineered to suit the special demands of customers that have special requirements for couplings and these couplings are then put together in a package. Today we supply couplings with integrated torque limiters together with heat exchangers to customers. In the wind turbine category, KTR can supply shaft to shaft couplings for the wind generators, the brake system for the main coupling drive, heat exchangers, generators and components for the hydraulic power packs that are used for the lubrication system. On the whole, KTR is not viewed as a couplings manufacturer, but as a systems provider. With an ability to address problematic issues and design aspects, KTR is well equipped with a super speciality R&D centre. The company not only understands its products but also customer’s specific requirements in terms of products which in turn help them to assist, cater and recommend the best products to their clientele. We proudly say use KTR Couplings as “Better coupling make better drives”.
Kumar Karandikar (KK): We are constantly in the process of developing and including additional products such as couplings for smaller and bigger torque, flange types or shaft-to-shaft type couplings, torque limiters, complementing elements, hydraulic components etc. Today KTR is the market leader for accessories for hydraulic components. 
How do you see the business growing in India?
JH: KTR’s business in India is developing positively. Since 1998, the company is constantly growing. In the last couple of years, KTR has seen a positive growth trend and also set up their manufacturing plant in Pune. We are in the process of improving and enlarging ourselves in order to reach the set target.
What is the production capacity of KTR?
JH: KTR as a group produces around 2 million couplings on an annual basis.
Which are the OEMs you are focusing in India?
JH: KTR is a leading manufacturer of couplings being used in various industries. We are producing couplings for construction equipment, marine industry, oil & gas industry, hydraulic power plants, public transportation industry, pumps and compressors, wind turbine industry, steel industry, agricultural, and machine tool industry, etc. The Indian market is growing at par from the industrial point of view and it is the right place for KTR to be at the moment.
 Is there a specific industry where KTR has its foothold among the several industries the company caters to?
KK: KTR does not cater to only a specific industry segment; on the contrary, it has a broad range of industries and is serving India quite well at the moment. Construction and wind are some of the industries where KTR has a strong foothold followed by pumps & compressors, machine tool, hydraulics etc. We are supplying high quality products with a local manufacturing facility to almost all the segments of the industry.
Could you give us an idea about your annual turnover as far as Indian market is concerned?
KK: The global KTR organization creates a turnover of nearly 200 million Euros. From the Indian market point of view, the company is already among the top 3 couplings manufacturers in India. With a very vigorous growth plan, KTR plans to be number 1 in the Indian market in the coming couple of years. ‘Global Quality at Local Price’ is KTR’s USP. Talking about competitors, there are several companies exist as far as couplings are concerned. 
How do you ensure constant quality of your products from your manufacturing unit?
JH: The KTR India facility is a 100 per cent investment by KTR Germany. The company also has an internal quality norm. We also have an internal quality manufacturing license program in which each and every product has to pass the norms. Out of KTRs global product range, around 55 – 60 per cent range is already licensed to be produced in the Indian plant and the percentage will go higher.
Are you happy with the norms in terms of Govt’s taxation policies applicable for manufacturing sector? 
KK: Regulations or policies are not our discretion but the demands of the Indian Industry; we as any other local supplier are already working our way to gain end users / consultants approvals with KTR India credentials. Coupled with a proven track record in India, KTR has been able to excel in achieving targets since the past 12 years.  With a presence in India as a manufacturing plant gives us additional leverage for meeting the approvals which was not the case before. With this, KTR is sure to grow in leaps and bounds and gain a leading position as Indian supplier.
What kind of training you provide to get German quality products at Indian price?
JH: The KTR team is fully trained on KTR products. Providing top quality products is a team effort. The KTR German team educates its Indian counterparts on the production process and conducts regular training for the Indian facility. Introducing a new product in a particular country undergoes a learning curve which is what the company is aiming to fulfil by bringing people from Germany to train on machines, design and drawing board, in sourcing.
KK: Besides, the company also deputes employees from KTR India across to Germany and to other facilities to share global expertise and enhance team building. At the end, this speeds up the learning curve and the learning process for the team in KTR India. KTR Sales engineer is nurtured to be a solution provider to all our customers. This way, KTR is very active and efficient in training its own staff. Apart from the sales team on board, we do have more than 35 authorised and trained dealers spread all over India to reach the customers and provide solutions to customers’ requirements for power transmission.
Are the raw materials for the products sourced locally?
KK: Mostly the raw materials are sourced locally but backed up by the stringent quality requirements as per KTR Quality program. In fact a few products are also being sourced globally by KTR subsidiaries in India which is again a speciality of KTR.
JH: KTR India is also one of the global suppliers and through its capacities and subsidiaries; the products are reaching the global market. In short, it’s a team of five manufacturing plants working together with the same manufacturing program that ensures uniformity of products. Moreover, the products are as per the norms laid down by the quality process which is continually validated. By doing this, KTR maintains the highest quality level of its products.
What is the year-on-year growth of KTR?
JH: Globally, the period 2008 – 2009 has been erased and forgotten as it was a period of economic slowdown for the entire world. Apart from that, KTR has over the last 5 years doubled its turnover as a group and perhaps even more than that. Over the last 17 years the company received a positive response.
KK: As far as KTR India is concerned, the growth rate has been more than 25 per cent in the last two years. For the year 2011, KTR has planned a 40 per cent growth and is confident to achieve the same. The drastic change in the mind-set of end users and companies for using higher quality products can be attributed to the successful achievement of the said target. Though KTR India might
be a new entity as a Indian supplier, KTR products such as Rotex, BoWex, RADEX-N, RIGIFLEX-N, are already well known in the market.
While giving global quality at local price, are you compromising on any factor?
KK: No, we can’t afford it. There is a reputation to be maintained. We have the advantage of manufacturing locally. Our prices are now local but that does not always mean to be the least.  Moreover, KTR is quality conscious and will never compromise on low price by serving low quality products.
Could you brief us about your expansion plans?
JH: KTR plans to utilise its current production facility in Pune more effectively with more production combined with a higher utilization of the machine capacity. We plan to expand in line with our business growth in India and we already have ample space within the current facility to allow the needed expansion.
What is your current order booking?
KK: The booking is up by around 37 per cent. Target wise, KTR has already crossed 67 per cent of the 2011 target. Therefore, KTR is confident of reaching a higher growth for 2011.
Brief us about your sales and distribution network.  
KK: Currently, KTR is mainly operating from Pune. With a team of 5 sales engineers and 2 back office desk, KTR has a network of 38 dealers spread all over India. Currently, there are no plans to extend the present network into branches, but surely the hunt is on for dealers and agencies to operate with KTR and in due course we will be very keen to operate from individual branches such as residential engineers.
Are you going to launch any new products in Indian market?
JH: KTR launched a new product in Germany some weeks ago; and had the world premier of the new spider material: T-PUR, a polyurethane material that can withstand higher temperatures, an interesting product for the Indian market. KTR has also launched the brake system, hydraulic brake system in Germany which will be introduced in India at a later stage. These are the two new products launched, apart from these, in the last 2 years; KTR has launched oil to air coolers as a new product to cater to the construction equipment industry as well as stationery hydraulics which includes the marine industry. Other products include gear type couplings that are being produced by the company since the last couple of years, barrel shape gear type couplings. Going back to the roots, KTR started couplings, gear couplings with a nylon sleeve and replaced it with steel sleeve and now KTR also makes couplings with a steel sleeve for high power or a compact outside diameter.

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