Category Archives: MSME

Quality awareness in Indian products

Recently, a German manufacturer refused to manufacture in India because he wasn’t convinced of Indian ability to meet his quality standards. He compared a simple switch board that was fixed crooked at an Indian public office to a German one that was perfectly in place. A UK based designer working with Indian textiles recently refused to source his products locally from Indian weavers due to lack of quality. This is in spite of the fact that bulk manufacture of Indian embroidery and textiles has a potential to woo international market. A customer at a jewellery store was disappointed with a custom-made silver plaque that was badly crafted despite initially promising good quality, and rejected the piece.

In India, you and I observe this lack of quality awareness in everyday life – be it with household equipment or a garment. In the examples quoted above, all it needed was quality awareness on the part of the electrician who fitted the switch board on the wall – he needed to not only know what was straight and what was not, but also feel the pride and confidence in his own work to ensure that he fixed it straight. The artisan creating the decorative plaque needed to feel pride in his work to ensure that he crafted a perfect piece – and the salesperson needed to know that if the piece was not good enough, he should not have even offered it to the customer as the reputation of his business was at stake.

So, what is good quality? Quality is not just a certificate (such as ISI or BIS) that can be given to products. It is an attitude that reflects the DNA of an organisation or an individual. Sadly, today the spheres of knowledge and performance do not work in synchrony. This emphasises the increasing need for quality awareness in the entire population, whether a factory worker, artisan, salesman or manager.

Holding financial constraints responsible for lack of quality is certainly not justifiable. A sense of pride in work and ownership associated with one’s work can overcome most constraints.

Craftsmen and technicians in India suffer from a lack of exposure to quality in production. The present day social environment has poor esteem for a blue-collar job in all work places across the country, and has very little respect for the dignity of labour. This acts as a demotivating factor for workmen and is hurting India in many ways. This is where China and other countries have an edge over India. Today, China maintains a work culture that is unbiased and treats as equally valuable, the contribution of every type of workforce.

Change must begin with the individual and spread across organisations. Even an average technician must be aware of good quality. He must hold a sense of pride in his work. Quality begins with design and continues through workmanship in the production process right to maintenance and customer service. China, which has a GDP five times that of India and a manufacturing sector ten times bigger, had a reputation some years ago in the international market, of producing poor quality goods. China has overcome that stigma by going on a war-footing and drastically improving quality. Here in India, if a locally produced item is shoddy and lacks basic attention to detail, we can neither aspire to ‘Make in India’ nor transform India into a global manufacturing hub.

The ‘Make in India’ initiative needs to leapfrog over the initial pitfalls of poor quality that China faced, and establish a global reputation of ‘High Quality’ for goods produced in India. This can be only achieved by a concerted parallel effort on several fronts, quality awareness being one of the foremost.

Challenges for MSMEs in HR strategy in the wake of ‘Make in India’

‘Make in India’ primarily focuses on manufacturing products in India. It is logical that this should include ‘Design in India’, ‘Innovate in India’, and ‘Support in India’. This therefore requires a holistic approach to not just managing HR, but creating HR right from schools, colleges and training institutions. Though this is a highly demanding task, there is no way we can avoid this. It is the only way that Make in India can succeed. Further, all these activities result in multiple areas of challenges as well as opportunities. The Governments (Central & State) too have their part to play in improving Industrial Relations and Labour laws, since manufacturing will certainly have to percolate to the smallest of MSMEs.

While MSMEs employ 40% of India’s workforce, contributing 45% to India’s manufacturing output, the main problem that they face is the lack of talent – most employees are non-employable for industry needs.

I foresee that soon, there is likely to be such a huge shortage of trained manpower across all levels of the manufacturing sector (operators, supervisors, managers, designers, etc.) that HRM itself can be a challenge for each organisation, especially the smaller ones. HRM will have also to build stronger bridges with educational/training institutions.

At a primary level, flaws in education system cost MSMEs a lot of their resources. Engineers, diploma holders, technicians, operators and clerks need to be given skills that train their mind to analyse and apply, before they can be productive. With this also comes the need to remain relevant at any point in the industry – therefore, the need to upgrade skills periodically. This applies equally to non-productive jobs like accounts and administration where online filing of monthly VAT returns as well as transportation documents are now mandatory in most states.

At a basic level, educational institutions are to be blamed for their flaws in skilling manpower. This, unfortunately, starts right from school. There must be a re-evaluation in the system with focus on understanding and application of skills rather than marks based on rote learning. The management in colleges remains unaware of industry needs and fails to incorporate skills that are required for industry. Thus fresh recruits from colleges lack skills to apply the knowledge gained – some even lack good foundation.

Graduating students are attracted to large MNCs which filter out the few who are capable of being employed. The Micro and Small Enterprises (MSE) are thus left with students who are not qualified for industry needs. If MSMEs employ their scant and precious resources of time and money into training their recruits, then employee retention becomes a problem. Skilling them would make them capable of meeting needs of larger organisations and MNCs. For fear of attrition, MSEs are reluctant to impart the necessary training, besides the time and cost constraints. Such a situation is clearly unhealthy.

The government has recognised the need for skilled manpower. ‘Skill India’ program was launched keeping in mind that only 2.3% of Indian workforce has undergone skill training. While these programs are viewed as being complementary to ‘Make in India’ initiative, they yet again focus merely on low-level skilling of fitters, plumbers, carpenters, technicians, etc. Skilling of graduates – especially engineers, has not been addressed. Further, the essential skills of critical and analytical thinking are not imparted, leading to a talent vacuum in the mid- and higher management levels of any organisation. This is felt most acutely in an MSME.

The growth of MSMEs is already challenged by lack of financial resources, poor infrastructure, and periodic and unfair harassment by various statutory bodies. However, the core problem to be addressed remains that of unskilled manpower.

We need to have a broader vision of Create, Innovate, Design and Make in India. To enable this vision become a reality, Industry, Academia, and Management experts need to work together to create a vibrant pool of real talent – talent that has strong basic knowledge of a domain, along with the skills for critical and analytical thinking. It is the development of these skills that will ultimately lead to the success of ‘Make in India’.

LCA-Tejas-15

Another Chairman of HAL talks

HAL seems to have finally realized that it needs to be a final integrator after all! Or has it?LCA

(http://m.thehindu.com/news/national/hal-seeks-to-lighten-light-combat-aircraft-burden/article7617119.ece) It now wants to offload major parts of the airframe to the large private players. We can now see the ‘biggies’ trooping to HAL to have a bite of the various platforms that HAL has been struggling to deliver to its reluctant customers.

How sincere is HAL when it makes such statements? I say this because this same intent has been repeated over the years ad nauseum without any action on the ground:

2002: www.thehindu.com/thehindu/2002/06/13/…/2002061301830400.htm

2003: www.thehindubusinessline.com/2003/02/12/…/2003021201020200.htm

2005 August: www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-logistics/outsourcing-bonanza-in-aviation-hal-alone-sets-rs-600crore-business-for-private-sector/article2185343.ece

2005 October: www.thehindubusinessline.com/…/haloutsourcing/article2193883.ece

If anybody thinks that this would make an impact on the Indian military aerospace sector, they are going to be sadly disappointed once again. All that this would achieve is to allow the large private players to put in place a certified system of producing airworthy structures, besides churning out riveted airframes and that too out of jigs and fixtures to be transferred to them by HAL. What nobody seems to notice is that a large part of a flying platform comprises its accessories and systems, including the most important power plant (engine), that really determines the flying as well as fighting capability of that aircraft. Onboard systems constitute about 25% of the acquisition cost of a military aircraft and along with the power plant, they account for 50% of the total cost. These also need maintenance and upgrades over the long operating lifecycle of at least 35 years. Considering that such systems can be tailored and modified to suit multiple aircraft, this constitutes the core of the aerospace industry. So, isn’t it silly that we are still talking only of manufacturing the shell and nothing about indigenous development and manufacture of all airborne systems such as avionics, electrical, hydraulics, pneumatics, air-conditioning and pressurization, cockpit instruments, weapons control, etc?

The Lucknow division of HAL was established out of the need for self-reliance in the development of accessories and systems. It has miserably failed to meet its mandate and hence this is where a multi-billion dollar opportunity exists for a large number of MSMEs alone. They can do wonders if pool their knowledge base, collaborate and synergize with each other and HAL can benefit by this too. This could lead to the creation of multiple consortia across the country each of which could be a potential exporter over time.

It is interesting that the CMD, HAL has talked of hand-holding. Let us look at their past track record. Five years ago, two divisions of HAL (Nasik and Lucknow) cancelled their outsourced manufacturing orders to a small private company stating that the labour unions had objected to outsourcing of work to the private sector. This was after going through a whole process of tendering, L1, price negotiation, and release of formal Purchase Orders. Is the CMD of HAL now sure that this will not happen again? Or, would the divisions now go to the unions to plead with them?

Talking of the 2600 SMEs that are supposed to be supplying parts to HAL, has anybody wondered what quantum of business each of these SMEs derive from HAL? If they are only manufacturing bolts and nuts, they could certainly graduate to aggregators by putting them together into a bracket or sub-assembly. That’s not what the SMEs would like to aim at. This precisely has been the problem with HAL. They never seem to be able to recognize the huge potential that lies untapped among the many competent and highly capable MSMEs of this country. Had HAL encouraged and facilitated the formation of clusters of MSMEs two decades ago, these would by now have graduated to system integrators, with each cluster delivering a communication or navigation or hydraulic system.

Why has HAL done nothing to support and encourage the existing MSMEs, many of whom are CEMILAC certified, who have already demonstrated their capabilities by manufacturing complete airborne equipment? Why does HAL not realise that creating such an ecosystem would be a force multiplier?

Indigenisation

Import Of Aircraft Spares – Is This ‘Make In India’?

There has been a news item in the last two days on HAL signing an MOU with BAe, UK, for spares support for the Hawk trainer as well as the Jaguar. If we hark back 40 years, HAL manufactured the Jaguar under licence from BAe. Logically, over these 4 decades, HAL should have developed indigenous sources for the spares for these aircraft. It has obviously not happened. This is a classic example of the myth of ‘Transfer of Technology’.  Many questions therefore arise from the announcement of this MoU.

What is the penalty that the country (and its tax paying public) paid with its precious foreign exchange for the maintenance and overhaul of these Jaguar aircraft over all these years? For, the OEM has surely charged HAL and the IAF exorbitantly for each spare part.

Did HAL attempt indigenisation of critical spares of Jaguar over these four decades? If so, what were the reasons for going back to BAe for spares? There was enough time for HAL to indigenise hundreds of spares that could also have enabled Indian vendors to develop similar parts and equipment for the LCA, ALH, Mirage and others. If all the divisions of HAL, at Bangalore, Lucknow, Korwa and Hyderabad could not indigenise the parts, why could it not have at least contracted it to a private player, even MSMEs? Radel Advanced Technology, an MSME has successfully indigenised many equipment including for the Jaguar, at a fraction of the cost of imported ones. So the question is, has HAL failed in skilling its engineers in indigenisation, or has it failed to give enough importance to the issue?

When on the one hand, the Government talks of ‘Make in India’ and on the other, a prestigious defence PSU actually signs an MOU for spares support for a 40-year old aircraft, it becomes clear that there is either a lack of capability or a lack of will to indigenise, design and manufacture in India.

Under these circumstances, how can we claim that we have produced an ‘indigenous’ LCA? This raises an even more worrying thought – were we fooling ourselves by wanting to make the Rafale in India? Even if we do, under licence, will we not be in the same boat as we are with the Jaguar and the Hawk today?  Doesn’t this MOU prove that HAL has failed to assimilate even 40 year old technology over all these years?

Looking ahead, how do we develop the capability to design and manufacture aircraft that are completely indigenous?

The solution lies in taking multiple steps:

To begin with, the determination and will to design and produce an indigenous aircraft as well as all its on-board systems, over a limited time frame.

Ensuring that the supply chain for the manufacture of the complete platform is in the ratio of 80:20 where 80 is the share of the tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers, and the lead organisation retains only 20% – the important major part of integration, testing and delivery.

Steps to indigenise all spares for all the aircraft concurrently with the aircraft manufacturing programme, through the process of identifying and promoting MSMEs as suppliers for these – in this process, streamlining and expediting the lengthy and often infructuous tendering process, with the specific intention of achieving the stated goal.

A strong leadership within the PSU to take these steps forward and drive it down the whole organisation. With the right attitude and determination, we can do it. If we can indigenously design and execute the Mars Mission, we can design our own fighter aircraft too.

SMEs

How do you integrate SMEs into the Indian Aerospace and Defence ecosystem?

Let me ask a question myself, what is an ecosystem? The ecosystem is one that encourages the growth of a particular sector of industry or product. So the ecosystem includes either the creation or existence of the infrastructure which includes again for design and manufacture, the manpower trained to handle the technologies involved, facility for training the manpower, test facilities, certification, processes, a supply chain, availability of specialised raw materials if there are any, and so on – it can be expanded without much of a limit. So the ecosystem as applied to the aerospace and defence includes the inclusion of all these parameters. And with particular reference to the aerospace sector which uses very specialised aluminium alloys, titanium alloys, rivets, nuts and screws that needs to be of special grade or tested grade and certified as airworthy. Now if we don’t have any of these present within the country, then the ecosystem is missing. Even in the case of availability of trained engineering manpower, we don’t have the ecosystem where you have either aerospace engineers or mechanical engineers trained for working or operating in the aerospace sector. So we don’t have the availability of these various kinds of resources in the country and therefore the aerospace and defence sector in the country is unable to grow to the extent that it needs to grow. This is where the creation of ecosystem is extremely important and therefore the Government is the one that needs to address these by setting up of laboratories, test facilities, training institutes or may be even incentivising SMEs or large organisations to conduct training programmes, seminars, workshops etc etc. And this is where the Government has to play a very major role in incentivising and facilitating the growth of the aerospace and defence sector in this country.

IndianSMEs, AeroIndia 2015

Factors and Challenges Related to the Growth of Indian SME

Indian SMEs have been a hot topic of discussion during last couple of months and have attracted the attention of entrepreneurs, bureaucrats and industrialists. India’s Defence budget has been growing year after year and has reached Rs.2,290 billion for 2014-2015. As a result, the opportunities for Indian SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) have also grown, leading to increased focus of policy makers and Indian Aerospace SMEs on this sector.

A significant thrust has been indicated in the union budget 2014-15 for the growth of Indian SMEs. After agriculture, the major contribution to the GDP (40 percent) is byMSMEs, who also have the largest workforce. MSMEs in all sectors are known for specific distinctive advantages like low-cost operations, unique skill sets, innovation, flexibility and agility. Indian SMEs nowadays are considered to be competitive and focused.

There has been active participation of Indian SMEs in the last decade in the defence arena. MSMEs play a major role in the defence ecosystem by producing sub-systems and components.

It has been estimated that the Indian defence sector currently comprises over 6,000 MSMEs which are fast integrating themselves into the supply chains of national and international majors including the PSUs.

Although the majority of them produce items of low value addition, a few small enterprises have proved their potential by producing sophisticated high quality products at competitive prices.

 

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The Opportunities

The Defence Procurement Policy 2011 had encouraged indigenous manufacture of defence equipment. Further changes in DPP 2013 have been made, to give preference to ‘Make in India’ across all categories. Indian enterprise should take indigenous design and manufacture as a challenge to grab the multi-fold business opportunity. This may bring a change – from dependence on imports to self-reliance. It will certainly yield technology spin-offs to various other fields such as automobile and consumer sectors.

Nearly 50 percent of defence equipment that are held by IAF are obsolete. They either need replacement or upgradation to extend their useful life. An opportunity of around US$10 billion exists in this segment. Obsolescence management is a key area where Indian MSMEs  can play a major role. A few Indian SMEs have developed indigenous sub-assemblies as part of obsolescence management, for both defence forces and defence PSUs.

The Challenges

Constraints faced by majority of MSMEs referring to the A&D sector are

  • Lack of awareness and exposure to stringent performance requirements such as high quality, reliability, efficiency and ruggedness to perform in harsh environments.
  • Lack of knowledge of military systems and platforms.
  • Lack of design skills for development of these products or their components.
  • Lack of training facilities for skilling the workforce, including engineers, in this specialised domain.
  • Lack of access to specialised raw materials and testing facilities associated with this sector.
  • Lack of funding to tide over the long gestation period characteristic of this sector.

Need for an A&D classification for MSMEs

The decision to bring out a new policy for MSME by our Union MSME Minister, Kalraj Mishra will open up new opportunities for all  stakeholders. Committees have been formed by Ministries of Finance, MSME and RBI to address all issues relating to the sector and it is hoped that they will provide a comprehensive policy that will reflect the changing business environment. Considering all the problems faced by entrepreneurs in this sector, a special category to classify ‘A&D MSME’ s would encourage more entrepreneurs to enter the sector.

Special schemes for SMEs in Aerospace and defence sector

A few steps that can be taken to encourage MSMEs in the sector are:

1. During the procurement process, whether of PSUs or armed forces, SMEs with aerospace/ defence skills, experience and proven track record, should be given weightage.

2. SMEs with proven track record in a particular field (such as machining or electronics or hydraulics, etc.) but lacking experience in the A&D arena, to be given exposure to specialised processes and requirements of this sector.

3. Commonly used materials and standard parts (For example, fasteners) of approved grades and quality that either need to be imported or manufactured within the country can be consolidated by creation of a raw material bank, operated and managed by NSIC or a similar organisation.

4. This sector is known for the long cycle time, from order to realization of sales. Special funding schemes taking this factor into account, would be a major step in mitigating one of the main elements discouraging MSMEs in this sector.

A&D MSME Clusters — the way forward

MSME clusters for the high technology A&D sector has to be facilitated. Government should encourage, promote and nurture these clusters through funding, training and support schemes. These clusters could also be virtual which form a supply chain for PSUs and defence organisations. Members in virtual cluster will be able to interact and share business and ideas mutually. There is no need for them to be co-located as a cluster. Members of the clusters would then be able to be use their skills to design or manufacture different parts of equipment. Growth of every individual in the clusters can be increased by pooling of complementary domain expertise. This would go a long way to establish the eco-system which is essential for successful and holistic implementation of indigenisation programs.

For indigenous defence industry

As an extension of the cluster model described in the preceding paragraph, a PSU such as HAL or BEL, or the maintenance wings of the armed services could financially partner with a cluster for mutual benefit. This could be a successful implementation of the PPP model that many governments have talked about in the past. This PPP model would be able to address many of the problem areas elucidated above, including the issue of exposure and training in specialised domain areas of A&D. The PPP eco-system will provide the much required impetus to the MSME sector.

While the new PM’s objective of turning the country from a major defence importer to an exporter opens up a much larger opportunity for the MSMEs, going far beyond the cause of self-reliance, there are challenges aplenty. However, these are not insurmountable if all the stakeholders come together and synergise for the common good.

India is today the world’s largest military equipment buyer. This situation can be converted into a multi-fold business opportunity if indigenous design and manufacture is taken up as a challenge by Indian enterprises!

 

MSME

Time to lift MSMEs from ‘garage-type’ operations in defence

Medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) in the defence and aerospace sector can be ‘game changers’ by contributing their bit to the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ call, but fear they may end up in ‘garage-type operations’ if the required support is not extended.With modern technology in their hands and an instant connect with global trends, what MSMEs need most is credit support and hand-holding by bigger players in the sector.

“There are immense capabilities in MSMEs in aerospace and defence, but they are restricted to being vendors for low value-added services”.

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One way to tap into the huge talent pool could be to have special classification of “defence MSMEs’, with special funding and support mechanisms, such as exclusive clusters tied to bigger players in the sector, such as PSUs and the Tata’s.

What has raised hopes among MSMEs in the sector is the ₹100-crore technology fund announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The feeling we get is that a part of this fund will be apportioned to critical projects that involve technology, indigenisation. Also, about a 75 per cent grant for design development… if that happens, it will be great news.

“If India is serious about being self-reliant in defence production, it needs to nurture and offer an enabling ecosystem to MSMEs,” unless this is done, India may have to face “crippling effects’ of over-reliance on imports, which often leads to buying outdated foreign technology.

“In the so-called technology transfers that happen, they only give drawings, no design. And most often, the technology that is given is outdated, at least two generations down, and they make a couple of billion dollars,”

India needs to develop technology on its own. It has the expertise and knowledge, all it needs is mapping of MSMEs in the defence sector and offer credit support.

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Karnataka MSMEs to Capture 20% of the USD 400 Billion Opportunity in Electronics Manufacturing Sector by 2020

Bangalore’s Electronics City MSME cluster receives Rs 120 million from  Central and State governments to design and develop electronic products Monitoring the growing annual demand across India from the current USD 71 billion to USD 400 billion by 2020 in the Electronics Systems Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector, a cluster formed by Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) from Electronics City, Bangalore is aiming to cater to at least USD 80 billion of this domestic demand over the next six years.

This newly formed cluster in Bangalore’s Electronics City has raised Rs 140 million from both central and state governments as well as its own members, to support start-ups and SMEs to design, test and develop electronic products.  The state government has sanctioned additional funds to boost the growth of the industry and address the prevailing challenges. At present, hurdles faced by the industry ranging from power and water shortage, lack of R&D and testing facilities, bad road conditions to hindrances at check posts are contributing to an unfavorable ecosystem which the state government is likely to address.

Speaking while inaugurating the ELCIA EXPO, Sri. S R Patil, Minister of IT, BT and ST, Government of Karnataka, conveyed, “MSMEs are a crucial segment in the manufacturing landscape of the state and have significantly contributed to Karnataka’s economic growth. If the ESDM sector in Karnataka is equipped to capture even 10% of the total domestic market of US$ 400 billion, it would be an achievement in itself.”

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“The Government of Karnataka has augmented the number of incentives to home-grown companies to enter into electronics manufacturing, particularly in electronics hardware, aerospace and defence sectors by leveraging the growing talent. Nevertheless, focus should certainly be on R & D, innovation, collaboration and partnerships at all levels.” he added.

With the Government of India’s strong emphasis on promoting Indigenization and opening up of the defence segment to FDI at 49%, Indian MSME segment will be playing a critical role in the entire supply chain for the Aerospace and Defence sector (A & D sector).

Echoing on the developments in the ESDM sector, G. Raj Narayan, President, ELCIA Cluster and CEO, Radel Advanced Technology Pvt. Ltd. said, “India has a vast pool of quality scientists and engineers, which is predominantly leveraged by the growing number of multinational OEMs who have set up their engineering and design centres here. Indian MSME’s in the A & D sector are now offering tremendous opportunities for such talent to develop in all fronts and in the process empower India as well.”

Electronic clusters and Industry bodies are increasing playing a vital role in setting up and sustaining an ecosystem that is critical for the electronics industry’s growth.

The original article appeared on ThisWeekBangalore.

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Bangalore-based Electronic Cluster Raises Rs 14 Crore

 A new cluster in Bangalore’s Electronic City has raised Rs 14 crore from the central and state governments to help start-ups and small enterprises design, test and develop electronic devices.

The electronic manufacturing cluster has received Rs 10 crore from the central government and Rs 2 crore each from its 25-odd member-companies and the state government.

Spread over 30,000 square feet, the common facilities will include equipment to test products for their tolerance in temperature and humidity, and will be made available to the member-companies at a discounted price.

Grajnarayan

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“The facilities will be up and running in December. We will see a much faster turnaround of products,” said Raj Narayan, president of the micro, small and medium enterprises cluster.

That is because prior to this, small enterprises had to go to government funded labs like Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) at Defence Research & Development Organization and private institutions like Wipro and L&T to test their devices, said Narayan. “It used to be very difficult. It’s prohibitively expensive in private companies and in government ones, we used to get time slots only after a week or two,” said Narayan, who also heads Radel Advanced Technologies.

The original article appeared on EconomicTimes.