SIMPLE IS BEST
August 19, 2011 5:45 am
“In order to achieve quality and productivity, continuous innovations in the field of concept and design are taken-up as a compulsory company policy and improvement challenged and implemented year after year. ‘Simple is best’ is what the process and machine designers in Mazak work on”, says Sudhir Patankar, general manager at Mazak India.
Being one of the world’s largest suppliers of CNC lathes, machining centres and manufacturing systems; how do you describe the present scenario in the Indian market? Is it too competitive?Buoyant is the word. Volatility is uncertain as to how long it will stay. Our estimate is that the situation should be good for the next 2 years at least. Competitive is an understatement. Lower cost per piece is the only bottom line. Quality and productivity is taken for granted. In order to achieve this, continuous innovations in the field of concept and design are taken-up as a compulsory company policy and improvement challenged and implemented year after year. ‘Simple is best’ is what the process and machine designers in Mazak work on. Working backwards from what is required on the component to designing the basic needs. It needs to also dovetail with the product design and process through concurrent engineering. Sound complicated? No, it is the basis of arriving at a simple innovative design which can effective cater to the ever lowering demand of cost per piece. Due to such severe demands on cost per piece, many processes are getting eliminated through value engineering and more value additions are taking their place.
In India, more than 70% of the demand in machine tools is met by imports from countries like Germany and China. Where do the local players lack? Besides the cost per component challenge, unless machine up time is guaranteed it is pointless for any machine tool manufacturer to boast about lower machine prices and faster machines. Let us put it categorically along with other pointers:• Higher volume needs faster machines. Making fast machines is not difficult but to be able to cater in a 24×7 environment with zero break-down with sustained quality levels needs experience and research.• Cost reduction needs to also address life time cost or cost of ownership. Unless this is factored in, it is only a matter of time the damage is realised. Unless machine is capable of delivering and maintaining the same quality throughout the life time, it may be difficult to project the actual cost and realize the bottom-line.• Cycle time reduction is not only about using higher speed of rapid and feed. It needs more engineering knowledge on the understanding behaviour to multi-task the operations.• The key focus area is the machine tool manufacturers’ engineering skills and the capability to integrate solutions and tie them in a fool proof manner. Mazak engineering team work against odds to understand the ground reality at ground zero before proposing a complete solution from the Mazak’s vast product range. All under one roof, Mazak customer can relax and witness how the engineers partner with them to deliver a perfect solution.
What are the prime growth drivers for machine tools industry in India?Though automotive industry still constitutes a major chunk in the Indian machine tool business, there is a compelling demand for providing ‘domestic’ challenging solutions by the local machine tool manufacturer. Aerospace, wind energy, oil & gas, medical, and construction are the areas where we have taken a front seat but the demand is currently being mainly met by imports. This is also due to the fact that as proven solutions are already available in the other countries, it may not be the best option to wrangle through the learning curve.
Is there any gap in demand-supply? Does the industry well equipped to meet surging demand?Short product cycles, spare parts supports for old models, multi variants in the products are putting the demands as ‘yesterday’ so unless the machine tool manufacturers plan for today which will be asked tomorrow, it is only a matter of time that they face the brunt of aggressive deliveries. The only way to cater to this requirement is to be able to think through progressively. Flexible machines but fast delivery, precise but short cycle times, low cost per component yet simple. Too many in one basket unless the thinking philosophy drastically changes on how this can be neatly addressed. Machines are to be designed like the automotive manufacturers do. Common platforms, flexible compact modules, standard CNC with specific options which can be selected through soft switches, production verticals to a line assembly constitute a few of them. High technology is compacted in terms of soft and hardware in the machine and CNC. A broad portfolio of more than 200 different products is in the offing from the Mazak stable. It is a real challenge to be able to cater with such a large range to a make the customer delighted on not only quality and reliability but also on delivery. This is realised in Mazak manufacturing factories by using our own Palletech System to manufacture the machine parts. Probably, one of the few factories in the world using Mazak machine to produce Mazak machines. Does it not prove the precision levels that Mazak machines can deliver?
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