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Optimising local sourcing to decrease carbon emissions
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Optimising local sourcing to decrease carbon emissions

June 9, 2023 1:47 pm

Vijaykrishnan Venkatesan, Managing Director, Kennametal India, suggests that to drive faster adoption at pace with changing trends and remaining relevant, leaders must foster a cultural shift within organisations towards environmental consciousness.

Please talk about Kennametal’s products and solutions.
Kennametal is a global leader in industrial technology, specialising in materials science, tooling, and wear-resistant solutions. With a customer base of over 80,000 in more than 60 countries, the company serves various industries, including aerospace, earthworks, energy, general engineering, and transportation. In India, Kennametal’s subsidiary, Kennametal India Limited (KIL), is located in Bengaluru and operates a modern manufacturing facility. The facility produces high-quality products exported to Europe and Asia, focusing on the Hard Metals and Machine Tools segments.

Under the Hard Metals segment, Kennametal offers metalworking solutions and services through its trusted brands, Kennametal and WIDIA. These brands provide a comprehensive range of precision-engineered products and customised solutions. The segment also includes leading wear solutions, engineered components, and tools for earth cutting and construction, delivering enhanced productivity, reliability, and extended lifespan across various industries, even in challenging environments.

Kennametal’s Machining Solutions Group specialises in manufacturing special-purpose machines, tool and cutter grinding machines, and fixture and tooling solutions. These offerings are delivered through the WIDMA brand.

How do you measure the success of your company’s sustainable manufacturing initiatives?
At Kennametal, sustainability is an integral part of doing business. Our sustainable manufacturing initiatives are integral to the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) principles of the company and span the entire value chain in the manufacturing process, from procuring the raw material to delivering value to customers and supporting the circular economy through recycling.

In FY2022, Kennametal Inc. delivered on several metrics highlighted by our global CEO in the ESG report. For example, the Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) GHG emissions of Kennametal in fiscal 2022 totalled 162 thousand metric tons, a 5.3 percent reduction from the prior fiscal year. Primary factors contributing to this decrease are improved energy efficiency, ongoing investments in the modernisation of equipment and process simplifications, usage of carbon-free energy sources, and the electrical grid’s greening.

What technological advancements have been adopted in business practices by your company?
We have embraced cutting-edge technologies across all aspects of our business to drive innovation, streamline operations, improve quality, boost productivity, and enhance the overall customer experience. Regarding manufacturing, we recently opened a new Inserts manufacturing facility at our Bengaluru plant as part of Kennametal’s global modernisation initiative. This facility is equipped with advanced pressing, grinding, and coating technologies, resulting in notable improvements in quality, product performance, and timely delivery.

In addition, we are continuously driving product innovation to cater to our customers’ ever-changing and intricate requirements, particularly in advanced sectors such as aerospace, additive manufacturing, and electric vehicles.

For instance, aerospace customers today demand advanced tooling solutions that ensure maximum metal removal rates, higher cutting speeds and maximum flexibility while delivering excellent tool life. Attuned to these needs, Kennametal’s award-winning HARVI Ultra 8X helical milling cutter is designed with features that enable the highest productivity at the lowest possible cost per edge. Our machining business portfolio, WIDMA, offers various Industry 4.0-ready solutions that enable customers to collect important data and monitor critical parameters through sensors from fixtures and machine accessories. These solutions help customers track equipment efficiency and performance parameters, and the machine accessories’ feedback supports predictive maintenance, increasing productivity and minimising downtime.

How far is the transition to eco-friendly and machine tool manufacturing supported by localised sourcing?
Leveraging the growth in India’s manufacturing prowess, we have developed a network of local suppliers, and today over 50 percent of our procurement is through them and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Through our efforts to enhance local sourcing, we have successfully reduced the carbon footprint associated with transport and logistics The Machining Solutions Group collaborates closely with small and medium-scale suppliers to meet our machine-building requirements, support their infrastructure development and provide regular training to meet Kennametal’s sustainability standards. The proximity to these suppliers has resulted in supply flexibility, leading to improved customer deliveries, cost savings, and a reduced environmental impact.

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What are the main challenges the manufacturing sector faces when implementing sustainable manufacturing practices?
Implementing sustainable manufacturing practices requires focusing on two key aspects: technology and commitment. It is crucial to adopt industrial utilities such as Zero Liquid Discharge systems for effective waste management, Electrostatic Precipitators to control air emissions, and Waste Heat Recovery to enhance process efficiency. These technologies should be widely embraced. Alongside, building locally concentrated infrastructure and people capabilities to deploy some of the globally established sustainable practices such as carbide recycling, new age packaging, and green logistics remain a challenge.To drive faster adoption and remain relevant, leaders must foster a cultural shift within organisations towards environmental consciousness. At Kennametal India, we promote environmental awareness by celebrating important days like World Environment Day and Quality Month, engaging employees in meaningful activities, and rewarding programs that align with our ESG goals. These efforts have improved our commitment to sustainable manufacturing.

How can the machine tools industry bring competitive improvement in business?
As per a study conducted by a market research group, IMARC, the India machine tools market size was $ 1.4 Billion in 2022 and is expected to growth at a CAGR of 9.4% during 2023-2028. This growth will be driven by the increasing economic growth of the country and investment in strategic sectors to develop local manufacturing capabilities.

There is a great future for this industry. The focus should be on anticipating customers’ current and future requirements to deliver best-in-class solutions with benchmarked reliability, accuracy and sustainability standards. With India witnessing broad-based growth across varied sectors, there is immense opportunity for machine tool builders to diversify their portfolio – from micromachining for the medical, electronics and semiconductors space to robust and heavy-duty machining for manufacturing transportation and off-highway equipment. At the same time, we need to continue to increase the adoption of IoT, which will support the interconnection of automation and manufacturing through technologies such as AI/ML.

In sync with the company’s approach to sustainable manufacturing, what practices do you follow to reduce environmental impact?
Our Bengaluru manufacturing facility has adopted various measures to ensure minimum environmental impact. For instance, close to 70 percent of our energy comes from solar, we ensure optimum water and waste recycling to reduce freshwater consumption significantly, and we have deployed robust mechanisms to reduce air emissions consistently.

Specific to the new inserts manufacturing plant mentioned above, we have integrated best-in-class environmental, health and safety practices right from the planning stages to ensure safe and sustainable operations. To name a few, we have deployed an energy-efficient HVAC system, highefficiency LED luminaries, building architecture for optimum utilisation of daylight, and energy-efficient adiabatic coolers to reduce energy and water consumption for the process.

Kennametal recycles scrap, fluids and sludges produced from cutting, machining, and grinding metal and reusing these materials as tungsten feedstock, which is a critical material for our operations. Globally, 90 percent of our End-of-life sintered carbide products and hard scrap carbide, on average, consist of tungsten carbide, which is infinitely recyclable and in FY22, 51 percent of the material used in feed plant production was recycled.

Aligning with our core value of safety, we operate with a zero-harm approach by implementing safe work systems and striving to exceed the benchmarks of safety regulation.

What are your company’s future growth initiatives amidst rising tech trends?
At Kennametal, we bring together materials science and engineering expertise – so R&D contributes significantly to our competitive edge, allowing us to meet customers’ requirements and help them solve problems.

Our objective is to grow faster than the market. We will continue to invest in people, first and foremost, as well as innovation and capabilities to leverage opportunities. We are also enhancing our tooling solutions as per prevailing technology trends, e.g., offerings for customers increasingly adopting industry 4.0 compatible, connected devices.

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