TOOLS FOR SUCCESS
Manufacturing Today|January 2022
MANOEUVRING THE CHALLENGES POSED BY THE PANDEMIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL DISRUPTIONS, THE MACHINE TOOL INDUSTRY EYES ROBUST GROWTH IN THE COMING YEARS
SYED AMEEN KADER

AFTER HAVING ACHIEVED STRONG GROWTH IN recent years, India's machine tool industry is faced with multiple challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a negative impact on various sectors including automotive, one of the key contributors to the growth. Whereas, several other external and internal issues including changing market dynamics and technology advances are having a ripple effect on the machine tool industry, forcing manufacturers to adapt to the new environment.

Machine tool manufacturers acknowledge that the prolonged global pandemic has posed many challenges for the industry. It has rendered massive effects leading to decline in demand in the machine tool market, says Prashant Sardeshmukh, Managing Director, MMC Hardmetal India Pvt Ltd.

As the COVID-19 continues to spell an unpredictable future for industry, Bijal Patel, Senior Digital Machining Specialist at Sandvik Coromant, says resilience will be needed if manufacturers are to navigate an economically and socially viable path. Manufacturers must adapt existing processes, and do so quickly and cost-effectively.

The pandemic aside that has had cascading effects across the industries, the machine tool industry has been facing multiple disruptions due to changing market dynamics and technology.

Industry players say the automotive sector has been one of the key contributors to the growth of the machine tool industry. However, the global developments in respect of emission regulations and rising concerns of climate change and sustainability have propelled the alternative mobility concept, vis-à-vis electric vehicles. “Although this transition is a long-term process, it has started showing impact on the machine tool industry, accepts Sardeshmukh.

He explains the internal combustion engine needs high precision in machining of metal parts and a large number of metal parts are used. Whereas the electric drive trains have fewer machined parts.

As a result of that the demand for machine tools in the automotive sector may decline. “Reduction in car parts will lead to less throughput time and manufacturing facilities. This could lead to market shrinkage for the automotive cutting tools and machine tools, explains Sardeshmukh.

Having observed the transformation of the automotive industry from internal combustion engines to electric drive trains, traditional machine tool manufacturers realise that they need to adapt to the changing market needs and prepare for the future.

Therefore, leading manufacturers are keenly observing the 'green' momentum in the automotive industry in order to make themselves compatible for manufacturing conventional fuel-based cars and hybrid cars.

In fact, many see the electric vehicle market as an area of opportunity.

J Prabhakar, Head, Machining Solutions Group (WIDMA) at Kennametal India Limited says they are working closely with their customers so that they can anticipate their needs and innovate to help them be more productive, efficient, and competitive.

As automotive manufacturers expand their offerings of hybrid and electric vehicles, we are well-positioned to support their evolving needs in this area, he says.

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