Sethu Madhavan, Managing Director of the Indian operations of Chicago based Tempel Steel, in an interaction with Industrial Automation.
automotive, motor, generator, transformer, and lighting
Electrical steel laminations
Global expertise, local solutions. How would you describe the Tempel Steel experience in India so far?
Tempel is the world’s leading independent manufacturer of precision magnetic steel laminations, unparalleled in high precision manufacturing, material sourcing, metallurgical analysis, engineering, prototyping, product design, tooling, and value-added capabilities across a global manufacturing footprint. Our seventy-two years’ history and global footprint has made us uniquely capable of meeting any challenging demands of our customers. However, Thinking Global and Acting Local has been a major key to our success in India. In many ways, we have localised our approach towards manufacturing, engineering, and tooling solutions. At the same time, we have leveraged our global expertise in the Quality control, Annealing and several other critical process areas and it has helped us create a unique position in the Indian stamping industry. We have brought a new dimension to the Indian stamping industry as regards the approach to material, quality as well as providing engineering support to our customers at the product development stage. We have also started building in-house PLC controlled special purpose machines that suits our requirement precisely and helps offering significant value proposition to our customers with short lead times.
Laminations for rotary and stationary electrical equipment – how big is the Indian market and what is the Tempel Steel share in it?
According to our estimate the annual accessible market for independent stamping in India is around 300,000 MT and our share in this market is around 35,000 MT. Considering the fact that we are relatively new entrants into this market and that there are over twenty-five organised stamping suppliers in the country besides the unorganised ones, this share is significant. Past three years have been particularly good for us in India posting a significant business growth and winning some good new business. The future business outlook is also positive.
Customised solutions as in MOTOvation – what is the share of this as compared to standard products?
MOTOvation is a value-added offering and not a separate class of products. We offer customised solutions which include suggesting the steel grades to FEA designs for motors, generators and transformers that not only improve performance but also effect good economies. We offer to collaborate with our customers right from the conceptualisation stage to design, prototyping and production phases through MOTOvation to help develop high efficiency motors, generators, and transformers in line with the latest energy standards. MOTOvation is not offered only to new products or new customers, but also many of our existing customers involve us when it comes to revisiting their designs to attain better efficiencies or performance from their equipment to remain competitive in the markets they operate
What is the Tempel Steel USP with respect to cost verses energy efficiency?
At Tempel we believe in a comprehensive approach when cost and energy efficiency are discussed together. While the technical support offered to customers in product design and material selection at the product development stage offers a distinctive advantage to the customers, our engineering processes ensure the right choice of tooling designs and tool materials that maximise life of the tooling. We maintain the dimensional requirements, fit, form and/or function at the production shop floor and in addition, our quality management system is designed to ensure we consistently deliver laminations meeting the requirements for magnetics, mechanical, and dimensional characteristics specified by customers at the scheduled timelines. Further our customers enjoy working with us due to the better performance of their end products consistently. We emphasise on sustainability in all aspects of our business, as a way of life and this very aspect is also an advantage and an important USP when cost and energy efficiency are brought together.
What are the design capabilities of the company in India in terms of systems used and markets covered?
We cover a widely spread out market segments that is industry independent and it makes our business inherently protected from the seasonal impacts and industry related shocks in business. We produce laminations for small automotive components and appliance motors to large hydro generators, wind generators, traction motors etc. We have in-house design capability for all the tooling solutions and automated part handling solutions that has been a huge strength for us. We have also designed and built some PLC controlled special purpose machines in-house to support our new business wins. Incidentally our Tool and Manufacturing engineering team supports our parent division in Chicago too on some specific assignments on a continuous basis.
How automated is the manufacturing infrastructure?
We believe in automating infrastructure to the extent that processes are error proofed from producing defective parts and aid productivity improvements and our efforts continue in this direction. We have a competent team of manufacturing and engineering professionals whose creative and analytical abilities are harnessed to bring about most optimal automations in part handling and quality control. However, we strongly believe that skill levels possessed by our workforce coupled with a well-honed muscle memory is also very essential in ensuring sustained performance on safety, quality, delivery, and cost. Therefore, we focus on synergising the advantages of automation with the skill and capabilities of our workforce to deliver the best to our customers
How large are the Indian operations of Tempel Steel in terms of capacity? Are products manufactured here only for local markets or exported too?
The green field facility, setup in 2012 at Gudapakkam near Tiruvallur is future proofed for sustaining our current growth trajectory in terms of capability and capacity. We came to India in 2006 to cater to a single customer in the lighting industry, supplying transformer laminations. We were situated in an Export processing zone, MEPZ and 100% of our supplies initially were all deemed exports. However, in a very short time, we outgrew that capacity and many customers in the domestic tariff area were added which was the main reason that led to the establishment of green field facility in DTA from where we operate currently. Our domestic business contributes almost 90% (including deemed export delivered to SEZ and EOU) while 10% of the produce is exported (direct) to various countries in Europe, NAFTA and Asia-Pacific region.
What about the raw materials, especially the right steel grades? Are these available locally or imported?
Being the world’s largest procurer of electrical steel and with a very strong centralised steel technology and procurement base within the company, we have the advantage of access to the best steel mills around the world that produce electrical steel. Our customers can therefore be rest assured that their requirement pertaining to the specified grades and lead times are met all the time. We do operate with both indigenous and imported sources.
Any expansion of facilities in India on the cards? Has the Make in India campaign made a difference?
We are already in expansion mode now, having added some capacity to our notching process while some more additions are underway. We are also adding capacity to our large progressive capabilities (>200 tonnes) to cater to new business wins and working on forward integration in our business to bring about better value propositions to our customers in the form of core building for large motors and generators. We hope “Make in India” campaign will bring more manufacturers to start producing rotating machines and transformers in India that will further support our business expansion in India.