Ajitkumar Nair, CEO, Pro-Arc Welding & Cutting Systems
Pro-Arc Welding & Cutting Systems has completed 25 years in the welding and cutting industry. Please let us know about your formative years and how has the journey been till date?
We began our journey in 1991 as a control panel manufacturer providing electrical panels for welding automation requirements of the automotive industry. This was an interesting time since the Indian markets had opened up to the western world post liberalization. It became easy for us to import welding torches/ components and other technologies from the West during this period. We started manufacturing MIG, TIG, Arc welding machines soon after since we felt the need to have our own product. By mid-nineties we entered the cutting automation spectrum by launching CNC profile cutting machines. We have been able to use this early mover advantage to our benefit and have been able to consolidate a good position and market share within the industry.
What were the major challenges faced since Pro-Arc’s inception? How did you manage to overcome them?
When we started manufacturing CNC profile cutting machines, the market awareness for these products were low. Also time taken for decision making was much higher. We used to participate at various trade shows and showcase our products there. We also arranged various seminars for leading fabricators and consultants to educate them about the machine’s capabilities. In the last 10-12 years, the CNC profile cutting machines have evolved drastically and technological advances have made the machines more affordable.
Today with the large installation base of these machines and growing awareness about the benefits of these machines, the demand for these machines is constantly rising.
Could you brief us on your product range?
Our current focus is into developing automation solutions for metal cutting. We manufacture CNC oxyfuel, plasma and laser cutting machines. These machines are used for cutting steel plates and circular, square and rectangular tubes. We offer solutions for cutting carbon steel and non-ferrous materials for a large range of thicknesses. We also offer niche solutions such as CNC operated bevel heads for weld-preparation on plates and pipe, CNC plate processing machines that combine drilling and tapping solutions with plate cutting and differing CNC controlled marking solutions on plates and pipes. Our range includes special purpose machines for cutting automation, downdraft fume extraction tables and underwater plasma cutting.
What is the company’s turnover? How much do you expect in coming time?
We achieved Rs. 30 crore turnover last fiscal year and are anticipating a 25% growth this year. Our goal is to be a Rs. 100 crore company by 2020.
Could you brief us about your manufacturing facility? Any further expansion plans?
We shifted to our current facility in Chimbli, Pune in 2016. This large manufacturing facility has helped us churn out large quantities of CNC profile cutting machines and helped reduce our lead times. We sold more than 100 numbers of CNC profile cutting machines last fiscal year and have already crossed this number by December of this fiscal year. Our fabrication setup includes CNC machines manufactured by us and welding fixtures for increasing productivity. We also have a strong design and development team which complements the manufacturing setup.
Could you list down your major clients?
Our products cater to small and large fabricators. We have supplied numerous machines to industries such as railways, automobiles, shipbuilding, aerospace, transmission tower manufacturers, windmill tower and component manufacturers, large boiler and heat-exchanger manufacturers, plate and pipe mills and large EPC contractors. We have also sold machines to manufacturers of construction equipments, earth movers, agricultural implements, pre-engineered buildings, sugar mill machinery, pollution control equipments, compressors, gensets, transformers, machinery, process equipments, pharma and chemical equipments, road-construction equipments, mining equipments and crushers.
Our marquee customers include public sector companies such as Indian Railways, BHEL, Department of Atomic Energy, NTPC-BHEL Power Projects, Ordnance Factories, Mazagon Dock, Naval Dockyard and large corporations such as Godrej & Boyce, Tata Motors, HCC, ISGEC, Kalpataru Power and Case New Holland.
Which market do you predominantly serve?
We are the largest Indian manufacturer of CNC oxy fuel and plasma cutting machines. We have a Pan-India presence. Our sales and service network is distributed all over India to cater to customers in the remotest regions of the country. We have also exported CNC machines to USA, middle-east, Kazakhstan and Bangladesh.
What kind of after sales service do your offer to your customers?
After sales service plays an important role for capital equipment manufacturers. A strong after-sales service capability goes a long way in increasing revenues due to repeat orders from satisfied clients. We have a strong sales and service network spread across India. We regularly arrange trainings for our service team in order to improve their competence. We encourage our customers to avail regular preventive maintenance and annual maintenance contracts. We stock spares and consumables with us and with our dealers in order to improve our service turnaround time.
What are the major regions/ sectors that you have targeted?
We see a lot of potential in the infrastructure and construction machinery industry. Renewable energy sector also has a lot of promise for the future. A stable political climate has ensured that the orders from public sector undertaking too are on a rise.
Do you have any plans to expand your reach globally?
We have developed dealers in West Asia and plan to build a service network in this region for targeting the middle-east and African countries. Our products have become very stable and so we feel the need to expand our reach to other geographies too. We are already providing service support to shipyards in Bangladesh in addition to the machine that we have supplied there.
Tell us about any new developments at Pro-Arc.
We are constantly looking to innovate at Pro-Arc. We have recently started manufacturing of CNC laser cutting machines. We have also developed a plate processing machine with drilling spindle and plasma rotary bevel head. We are showcasing these developments at IMTEX exhibition in Bangalore, 2018.
Recently Pro-Arc completed 25 years of existence. We have done a rebranding exercise to commemorate our 25 years of existence. As part of this exercise we have created a new brand identity which showcases our rich experience and our desire to learn new things and innovate.
What is the current market scenario for welding & cutting machines industry in India?
The demand for welding and cutting automation is constantly improving in India. Every industry is looking to enhance productivity and reduce costs by embracing automation. With the increase in demand, the competition too is increasing in this industry. A few years back CNC laser cutting machines were mostly unaffordable. Today, these machines are being used by many small job-shoppers. In the current market scenario, it is important for every organization to keep improving their products and focus on making technology cheaper so that the reach can be widened.
What are your expectations from the Indian government to boost business in this segment?
The taxation reforms in the form of GST have boosted the confidence of the manufacturers. This single tax structure has replaced multiple taxes and cess, thereby making life simpler. One area that the government needs to focus is it’s spending on research and development. Research in India is not too evolved. Government needs to develop a plan to encourage research and development in different fields pertaining to technology.
What are your future plans?
We plan to incorporate IT systems for our manufacturing, inventory and after-sales service verticals so that it works as a strategic differentiator. We are focusing on improving our customer experience. We are expanding our focus from improvement in product to improvements in the complete customer experience.