igus began its operations in 1998 in India. How would you describe this journey of 22 years – exciting or evolutionary? Why?
When igus started operations in 1998, India industrially was in contraction and the thought processes that drove industry were still traditional. The period that followed however, was exciting as India embarked on its journey to be a global player and powerhouse. We are very glad that we not only evolved along with our customers but also played a very important role in bringing technologies that could help machine building with frugal engineering or “just the right” solutions. Even after two decades, we are excited that our “Tech Up, Cost Down” approach towards machine building is being valued and is finding resonance with the industry. We look forward to the new challenges in the coming decades and will continue to contribute to the development of the industry.
How has igus India adapted to the New Normal? Is it business as usual or have you had to make some drastic changes?
Over the last six months we have seen lives and work style changing like never before. We have gone through many changes and an entirely new era of doing business. Adapting, evolving continuously and resilience have been the strengths for igus. The COVID imposed restrictions definitely were hindrance to the way we did business. Opportunities are always hidden in adversities. We spotted the opportunities to be able to be connected digitally with our customers and brought out a slew of web trainings, customer connect programs, one on one sessions and even digital exhibitions where customers could directly take a virtual tour of a 400 sq m show booth in igus Cologne even with our German Product Experts giving live and interactive sessions.
Which business segment of yours is growing faster - polymer bearings and cable management system? Why?
Growing in this period of uncertainty and contraction is definitely a challenge. However, as always, we are in constant lookout for opportunities. The possibilities with smart motion plastics over conventional solutions are becoming louder and louder and therefore we still keep realising many opportunities in both the divisions. In a nutshell, the success and huge number of projects of the newly launched LCA (Low Cost Automation) division which brings together all our products speak the complete story and growth possibilities for Smart Motion Plastics.
(LCA combines all our product offerings be it simple bushings, conveyor rollers, bar stocks or pillow blocks or belt or lead screw driven linear modules, high performance cables and hoses in the best energychain systems).
What are the key advantages of using polymer bearings? For which industry sectors are they more relevant?
Plastics are so well embedded in our daily life that it has become so inconspicuous. The advantages of optimal cost, light weight, corrosion resistant etc. are too obvious. But as a replacement to conventional metal products and components there can be huge reservations from a reliability perspective. However, the possibility of lifetime calculation based on the huge database of test results from millions of tests over four decades makes every Smart Motion Plastic product from igus reliable with predictable lifetimes. Be it for an aseptic application in a packaging, pharma or medical industry or a high load application in defence vehicle or construction equipment, from robots to machine tools and automation, from underwater applications to space, igus Smart Plastics have proven its worth time and again in every industry segments.
With emission norms and safety regulations becoming stricter in India for the automotive industry, do you think igus products will prove increasingly beneficial to this industry?
Though we do not directly influence the emission parameters, igus products find its way into many automotive onboard devices that assist in managing emissions. However, the benefits on economy of a vehicle due to light-weighting is already a given. Therefore, replacement of conventional metal components by igus Motion Plastics therefore drives up the opportunity for igus and the automotive industry overall.
The effect of the pandemic has also accelerated the process of digitisation across the manufacturing world. How do you look at it both as a technology oriented organisation (internally) and as a technology solutions provider (externally)?
As mentioned earlier we are a forward looking organisation living our opportunities today while being future ready. So, the transition was quick and automatic, our CRM was already cloud based since many years and we could easily provide remote access to our ERP for key functions to enable work from home. The transition and transformation to operate in the new digital world have been smooth and seamless.
Today, the value of time has increased manifold due to the fact that manufacturing organisations want to reduce efforts on the shopfloor while keeping the cost minimal. Of course, they also want to achieve their production targets. So, do you think products like igus readychain can be of great help in this situation?
We have always spoken about productivity and believe that is the key to the growth and prosperity of any company. We diligently follow lean principles in our internal processes and production.
Beyond this all our products right from conception to putting out to the market, is driven by the facts that it must be able to be reliably chosen, fast to procure, easy to use and offer the requested performance. The current crisis with a period of low output and even worse, availability of manpower or the requirement to restrict manpower has made many companies look at productivity improvement measures. In these scenario plug and play solutions like the readychain (complete cable management) or the linear modules or even the Low Cost Automation System solutions offer huge advantages not only on the productivity improvement on the shop floor but huge advantages in inventory, vendor and quality management. These hitherto intangible benefits are becoming more and more valuable to the customers. The COVID crisis definitely has thrown open to the simple thought process “what comes in, must go out” and get monetised. igus Ready solutions are then surely the best way forward.
The Covid-19 outbreak has also provided a boost to the adoption of automation in the manufacturing industry today. Again, while organisations want to go ‘high on tech’, they consciously want to stay ‘low on cost’. How is igus addressing this seemingly contradictory demand of its customers?
It is presumptuous that “high on tech, low on cost” is a recent fad. No, definitely not. Maybe the focus on tech has improved and cheap has been replaced with optimal cost. Nothing changes for igus much as we are still driven by our simple philosophy of “the cheapest solution that works is the best solution”. In short Tech Up… Cost Down… This is our job! And if we cannot achieve at least one of these then it is not our business.
As a Germany based company, how do you view the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (Self Reliant India) campaign?
We would like to believe we are the best Indian company from Germany and we will strive to bring products and technology to India that will help the Indian Industry play its part in making India Atmanirbhar.
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