Department of Scientific and Industrial Research
Ministry of Science & Technology
Government of India

About the Conference

Today the manufacturing industry is poised with one of the most competitive challenges of redefining and creating the Indian brand – ‘Make in India’. We have embraced this new challenge in a complex and competitive scenario, the Indian industries are operating today as compared with our past and rest of the world. They are facing competition from imports and from MNCs in the domestic markets. Several industries also have to compete as new entrants in global markets. The new competition is in terms of improved quality, reduced cost, products with higher performance, better service, and a wider range of products all delivered simultaneously. Nevertheless, this commitment is not a choice, it is a much needed step India has taken for a prospective and progressive growth in manufacturing and the economy.

While we have the leadership of the Government towards branding products and systems from India, a lot more has to be done to bring this dream to reality. The Government is active and supportive in formulating mechanisms, schemes and policies for growth. But it rests in the scope of industries, institutions and growth agencies in following an integrated approach and taking effective steps around this products of India / Make in India – strategic mechanism.

Earlier, industries would serve different markets (developed, emerging and underdeveloped) with different quality products and services, while perhaps compromising on quality in the home market. Therefore, many strategies that may have worked in the past are not likely to succeed in the future. The new competition is in terms of improved quality, reduced cost, products with higher performance, better service, and a wider range of products all delivered simultaneously. Mature-market customers continue to accept price premiums for new features, leading companies to over-engineer their product lines at least from the point of view of emerging-market customers.

On contrast, the dynamics is different in emerging nations (China, India, Brazil and others), where billions of customers at the bottom of pyramid are quickly moving out of poverty. The life style of the modern middle class family has changed with the increasing disposable incomes. Although the purchasing power of any of these new consumers as an individual is only a fraction of a consumer’s purchasing power in mature markets, in aggregate they represent a market nearly as large as that of the developed world. Further, consumers from these market are price sensitive yet keen on the product features.

This earmarks the need for cost efficient manufacturing strategies and systems to survive the price conscious market. Therefore the Indian manufacturing industries have to search for new processes, new vendors, new materials, new shop floor design, and new channels to produce their products and services at very competitive price. Frugal engineering is one such emerging concept which we are aware is a philosophy involving breaking up and rebuilding a cycle that culminates in a simpler, more robust, easier-to-handle final process and cost-effective final product. While it is repeatedly mentioned that frugal innovations are not only meant for making things cheaper, but better with more appropriate means and applications. It is more about creating advantages out of limitations.

According to studies, India is considered the right place for frugal innovation to take place, as the culture of inventive improvisation, the approach and skillset for frugal innovation are in plenty in India. Manufacture of small sized truck, improved engine capabilities, enhanced farm mechanizations, increase domestic share in defense manufacturing, offer affordable power solutions etc. are some of the areas amongst others, where the needs are more than stressed by the customers. The modern manufacturing concepts and technologies could be combined in such areas for collective gains.

Technology is the backbone of business of all sizes and is by large an enabler to attain the competitive edge in the market. Advanced manufacturing technologies and techniques (AMTs) have the potential to significantly improve production output, attain quality and stabilize profitability, thereby ultimately serving to meet our manufacturing objectives and goals. AMTs improve manufacturing processes and products through the use of innovative technologies and finds application in all areas of manufacturing, including design, control, fabrication, and assembly. This family of technologies includes Computer-Aided Design, Manufacturing, Engineering & Process Planning (CAD, CAM, CAE, CAPP, CIM etc), Resource Planning, Automated materials handling systems, Control systems, Process Technologies, Flexible manufacturing systems, Custom manufacturing, High precision technologies, Sustainability technologies, High performance computing and advanced robotics, intelligent manufacturing, group technology etc.

Small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) are the heart of the Indian economy and they play a crucial role in the industrialization process. SMEs assume huge importance both as an employment provider and economic driver not only in India but globally. Therefore it is necessary to understand and emphasize the role of SMEs in this transformation observed in the manufacturing industry. With a large proposition of SMEs in the manufacturing sector, it is necessary that appropriate mechanisms are entrusted to ensure that the SMEs play a complementing role and also are benefitted out of this transformation.

Studies inform that the rural areas and the SME's are the heart of the Indian economy where a remarkable development has taken place and they are the main taker of the frugal innovations due to its cost effectiveness. In a globalized economy SMEs are no exception and they have to cope with the changing world. Strategizing is not an option for SMEs, but requirement if these organizations are to make an impact at the global market, especially in the context of Make in India. They have to embrace strategic management if they are to have a competitive edge.

A study on the implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies in SMEs showed that the companies were more concerned with short-term gains, rather than the strategic benefits offered by these technologies. The lack of an organic structure, the lack of understanding of technologies, the inadequate levels of skilled workers and engineers and the culture of the industries are factors that will hinder SMEs from achieving the strategic benefits of AMT and adopting innovative management practices. To be able to survive and grow, SMEs must adopt strategic technologies and innovative management practices to survive this dip for progress and prosperity. If we are able to converge our efforts in bringing about this change in SMEs, it would mark a definite progress in our cost effective manufacturing approach.

Skill, although a common factor which influences any business segment or sector, in light of manufacturing, it plays a predominant role and is a widely discussed subject to strengthen our manufacturing competitiveness. It may be agreed that skill and technology go hand in hand. This is not only in the case of understanding and appraising technology, but also putting the technology and systems to best use. If technology is made available and if it is not exploited enough at the user side, then it is still equivalent to non-adoption of technology, opportunity cost of non-adoption, wastage of investment and so on. In the context of India, studies highlight on the tooling and designing skills to further strengthen our low-cost advantage. Therefore adequate training and skill modules have to be ensured.

While our vision and aspirations are clear – Make in India, the industries and relevant stakeholders have to formulate our work agenda at different levels and through various approaches to put our hands on this job. It is the duty of the industrial leaders and management to transform their industries in this path. With this as a context, the Tamil Nadu Technology Development & Promotion Center of CII, proposes to organize the Conference on Advanced Manufacturing Technologies for the Engineering Sector on 26th June at Hotel ITC Grand Chola, Chennai. This would be an initiative to explore possibilities to discuss on key technology aspects that catalyze growth of the manufacturing and engineering sector with the support of the key stakeholders.

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