Mr. Ashok Sheth, Chairman, Solitaire Machine Tools Ltd
Q. How was the year that went by for your company?
The last financial year was slow to start with, but it picked up the speed of order receipt and execution. Domestic market is still a bit jittery for domestic consumption. Those who have good potential for Export of components / sub-assemblies are taking risk and procuring equipment and upgrading with automation. At SMT, we found the year quite good with healthy growth of about 40 %. The Export was made to various countries in North America, South America, Europe and China. The lesson learned was that customization of process for higher productivity was the key to getting bigger share of market. Customers are looking more for Solution than just a machine. The tolerances in sub-micron level are becoming reality. A tooled up automated machine with higher cost is more preferred than a general purpose machine with low cost. The quality conscious customers are also finding out that low cost second hand machine no longer guarantees them business, as they are unable to meet quality parameters which are becoming stringent day by day.
Q. Any upheavals you had to surmount?
The major change was the need to reduce the price of machines being sold in domestic market. The major vendors of Castings, CNC systems, Ball Screws and all other peripherals were not willing to reduce their prices, whereas customers are under tremendous pressure to bring down the price of their products. The Rupee also kept on getting depreciated affecting the import cost and cost of manufacturing. It was hard to keep two ends to meet and still continue profitable operations. The major issue with most customers is lack of skilled manpower availability at reasonable cost. Lack of manpower and higher turnover of employees is affecting the business all around. The skill imparted by Schools, Technical institutes, Engineering colleges are all too much of theory oriented and students graduate just by reading their books. Greater interaction with industry on shop floor level is a necessity of the day.
Q. What are the innovations you wish to display this year?
We would like to pursue grinding of Cam Shafts and Crank Shafts on Centerless grinders for higher productivity. The concept is being developed and may take a year or two to come up with desired solution. The savings in manufacturing time would be really big for manufacturers of these products. We are also pursuing wider applications for New Micro Centerless Grinders. We would like to upgrade our machining capabilities for better accuracy and savings in machining time. New design tooling is being adapted for higher output. Several machines are being upgraded with CNC controls to ensure consistency in manufacturing. We would like to target full CNC machine shop by 2022.
Q. Did you ever feel there’s a better way? What would be your strategy and approach to make the most of this year and beyond?
Yes, there is always a better way to do whatever you are doing. You do not need rocket scientist brain to do better. All you need is common sense and open to new ideas coming from any source from where suggestions can be received. There is no limit to how much you can learn from your colleagues, employees, customers, vendors, competitors and even a layman, who has no clue on what you are doing. The simple strategy would be to listen more than speak. We have seen that new products, new processes have been evolved just by a stray idea on why this cannot be done by us. Close your eyes and you see it running like a movie with all the variables available to make the process productive and cost-effective.
Solitaire Machine Tools Ltd.
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