Lincoln Electric is one among the leading player in robotic arc-welding systems. How has been the journey so far?
The journey has been very interesting and rewarding. We have worked at gaining an understanding of what our welding customers’ pains are and what gains they are looking for and are tailoring our offerings to these.
What is your say on the current robotic arc-welding market in India? Is it on par with the international market?
The prevalence of robotics is driven by several factors;
1) Labor cost v/s capital cost
2) Availability of skills
3) Customer insistence.
These factors are less compelling in India, as compared to say USA or Europe. Hence, the prevalence of robotics is less. However, the last factor (Customer insistence) is very important. In this, apart from productivity, quality consistency is a key factor for implementing robotics. Customers realizing this will drive the change.
What about the welding market scenario in India and globally?
The Indian market is significantly lower than most industrialized countries in steel consumption per capita. And this is what drives the welding market.
What is the demand and supply scenario for welding equipments in India?
There are too many options available. The problem for customers is to understand that for their specific application what would meet their quality standards and also deliver the lowest welding cost. Almost invariably, it is not the cheapest.
What according to you is the current market size? How much can be expected in the coming years?
The overall welding market is around Rs. 6,000 crore by my estimate, of which welding machines (excluding robots) would be around Rs. 1,500 crore. I expect this market to grow exactly in line with overall manufacturing growth, as welding is used in almost all manufacturing.
What according to you are the latest trends in the industry?
Bespoke waveforms for specific applications to maximize productivity and quality are already there and will continue to grow. Also Industry 4.0 is driving change in the welding industry as in manufacturing in general. Internet of things, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality is changing the industry in ways never seen earlier.
What are the major challenges that the welding industry in India faces? What can be the ways to overcome?
The challenge for the welding industry is that customers are unable to distinguish between the lowest cost solutions and the lowest price solutions. This increases welding cost and is overall harmful to the economy. Educating customers is a challenge, as most purchasing departments look only for the lowest price, and are not concerned with welding costs. The solution is to educate welding engineers, as they are the ones who would be challenged to lower welding costs. Or the top management that looks at the bottom line.
Is the availability of skilled manpower an add-on challenge? If yes, elaborate?
Shortage of skilled manpower should be seen by welding companies as an opportunity. An opportunity to sell specialized training equipment like virtual welders, or to train unskilled people to deliver superior (higher productivity, lower cost) welds using superior equipment.
Any expectations from the government?
Developing skills is a Government priority. The Government is already recognizing skill development as contribution towards CSR. This should continue.
What is your say on the future of Welding segment in India?
Welding in India has a strong future. As manufacturing grows, so will welding.
Headquartered in US, how has been the Indian market for Lincoln Electric?
India represents around 1% of the Global turnover, but is nevertheless an important market given the potential.
Which sectors have stood out to be the major consumer of Lincoln Electric products?
Automotive, yellow goods, wind & thermal energy, pipe mills and pipelines, pre engineered building structures.
Any recent mega project?
We are currently working for Fortune 500 company, which is setting up in India. Their entire welding set up is by Lincoln.
Lincoln Electric largely focuses on safety. Please elaborate. What are your efforts towards the same?
Safety is a primary concern for us. We train our people and customers in welding safety and treat it as a priority. We are looking at innovative methods deploying Industry 4.0
Last year, Lincoln Electric acquired the French company Air Liquide Welding. Congratulations. Please elaborate more.
As of now, this is confidential. Apart from the fact that the assimilation is going well, I cannot reveal more.
The company has the largest wire manufacturing facility in India, making Lincoln India the market leader in wires. Please brief us on the unit. What is the total built-up capacity, location, advancements, etc.
The unit is state-of-art with a total capacity of 3,000 tons per month of wire. The unit has adopted Lean six sigma practices and has customer focus as its driving philosophy. Continuous improvement in wire quality has made us the preferred supplier, although we are one of the most expensive. This is because, all focus is on how we can make wire a) Lowers our customers’ welding costs- Tip consumption, spatter, stoppages, rejections and rework and b) Increases his productivity by increasing deposition and welding speed and c)Ensures his weld quality.
Any expansion plans?
The focus is on building capability rather than capacity. Going forward, customers will value services that enable them to improve productivity and quality and reduce costs. It is this that we are building on.
Welding has a great future in India. But the industry needs to work hard at educating customers on upgrading their welding to Industry 4.0 standards. We should not lose Global competitiveness by standing still, while the world is on the move.