Srinivasan, President, Indian Institute of Welding (IIW)
Intro: There are good signs of recovery for the welding industry. The growing infrastructure projects are a big business for the segment. We are almost in line with the international markets.
What according to you is the current market scenario of welding industry in India?
Today, India is much better poised and in a very comfortable position when compared to the last three years. The present government has introduced schemes to boost the industry, the major contributor being ‘The Make in India’ campaign. India had to face recession during 2007-13, but slowly, we are coming out of the recession, though not 100 per cent. There are very good signs of recovery for the manufacturing sector and also for the welding industry. With the inflation rate slowly but steadily falling will give opportunities for reduced Interest rate from the banks and from the lending institutions. This will spur the growth and the introduction of the GST will eliminate the multi tax problems, which would further encourage the industry to focus on upgradation and adoption to newer technologies. From the last quarter of 2017 onwards, we hope to have much better progress into the segment and related industries.
What is the current market size and how much do you expect in the coming time?
Today, India is the second largest steel manufacturer, probably, just reaching towards Japan. The sector picks about 95 to 100 million tonne of steel every year. Out of which, around 3 million metric tonne of steel is consumed for welding materials. The government has set a target to supply 250 million metric tonne of steel in India by 2020-2022. With the set target, it can be said that there is a huge market for the welding industry in India. Besides, the growing infrastructure projects are another big business for welding. The government has directed all departments to complete the listed projects before 2022. This strengthen our view of extraordinary growth potential in India, and the welding industries have projected a growth of about 6-7 per cent over the previous years, which is in line with the international countries.
Is the Indian welding industry on par with the international countries?
It cannot be stated that India is lacking behind in welding, but definitely we need to upgrade ourselves. The Indian Institute of Welding (IIW) is largely focusing on the same. IIW is an institution of professionals from the welding industry of India. It is a non profitable organization under the section 25of the company’s act of India. IIW is the only member of the International Institute of Welding in India, with headquarters in Paris. The Indian automobile sector is definitely closer to the international market in terms of quality. Infact, today, the international automobile companies are keen to have a space in the Indian market. So, we are competing with the world into this segment, but in terms of heavy engineering, we still need a lot of infrastructure support. Unfortunately, for welding, there is no basic welding research centre in India, except Welding Research Institute (WRI) in Tiruchirappalli, India. WRI is the premier BHEL Research Centre of India in the field of welding and allied areas. We need to have a government established or government supported welding research centre. IIW is working very hard in this subject. If the government gives us clearance, we can work closely with the government and ensure a full-fledged welding research laboratory. The government has opened up huge opportunities through public private partnership (PPP) project, starting with defence. In the coming years, the atomic energy, aerospace segment will also boost. The industry is facing lot of challenges. The major challenge is the technological gap between India and the international market. The other challenge is the availability of skilled manpower, which is a problem not only in India but globally. The entire welding, fabrication and other segments are facing this issue. Inorder to overcome the challenge, Prime Minister is focusing largely to boost skilled man power in India.
What is IIW’s initiative in creating skill development especially into the welding and fabrication segment?
IIW has taken up a project of creating skilled manpower for about 5-6 years with the Government of India, especially with the Ministry of Skill Development. IIW has been appointed as the knowledge partner for the capital goods sector, the automobile and steel. We provide knowledge to the training centers of these sectors. Our knowledge sharing programs are recognized and audited by NABET & QCI. The IIW program is certified under ISO 17024. On completion of the course curriculum, IIW acts as the assessing body, based on which we certify the candidates. IIW also offers the course to train the trainers so that these trained trainers can develop more training centers. In 2016, the entire IIW training program was audited by QCI and approved (Quality Control of India). IIW is the only institute or a company in India certified by QCI for welding.
Which countries according to you are leading in welding and fabrication?
Japan and Korea are leading into welding segment. China is also very strong in welding. Canada, USA, European countries, and Germany are the other countries largely focusing into welding. India is also definitely not lacking behind. Top welding companies are located in India. Various sectors in India like the aerospace, automobile, infrastructure, etc has started taking a positive turn. The power plants sector still needs to boost. The state owned power plants are running at an average efficiency of 40 – 45 per cent, which is a huge area of concern. Similarly, the transport sector also needs to upgrade. Shipping is one area wherein we need to increase our welding activities, since India has the largest coastal line in the subcontinent. We are not exploring the possibilities of the coastal line by having large number of ship repair workshops and shipyards.
What kind of advancements been brought about in welding technology segment?
It is not only the welding that is important, today the material that goes into welding is also important because, India is a country with variety of temperature and climate. This leads to challenges and we have to overcome them. Advancements in technology is needed to reduce the manufacturing time. Once when the manufacturing and delivery time is reduced, one can achieve profitability towards the product. Thus, a lot of automation has been introduced in India and much more is expected.
What is your say on the robotic automation?
Robotic welding techniques definitely offer a much clear and qualitative output. In India, most of the companies, who manufacture such equipment, depend upon small vendors. These vendors also have to equally upgrade themselves on par with the quality of the company to which they offer their products. So, to reach that level, funding is required. Today, the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have lot of facilities, schemes, and incentives to upgrade themselves. Thus, these companies have to make the best use of such benefits. Today all the latest technology is available at the shortest possible times. It is only that the industries need to take big step towards technological upgradation of their facilities to meet the global needs and challenges.
What is IIW’s role in creating awareness on latest technology in the industry?
IIW have 14 branches. We organise free technical lectures, wherein we invite experts from the segment for a discussion. These lectures are not only to the members but all those interested in welding. Besides, we also have a seminar at national levels and at branch levels. IIW organizes short duration welding workshops in various small industrial pockets. We organize two national events – National Welding Meet (NWM) and National Welding Seminar (NWS). IIW also organizes International Welding Congress every three years. The National Welding Meet is usually held in cities other than the Four Metros. This will give an opportunity to the welding professionals present in these cities to get proper exposure to the technological developments that are happening and to interact with experts of the field. During December 2017, we will be hosting the 5th International Welding Congress IC 2017 in Chennai, along with the WELD INDIA exhibition. The Weld India is the only exclusive welding Exhibition of the country.
IIW organizes exhibitions for the benefit for the small and medium scale fabricators of welding sector, to see the latest developments in the field of welding and in welding automation.
What is IIWs role to maintain quality in welding?
Firstly, India needs to upgrade its scale of quality. The European market has issued directives on several quality standards. A company which is certified under ISO 3834 can only service and supply the welded products to EU. This is a mandatory requirement. This has given rise to the Indian manufacturers to upgrade their quality, skills and get the certification of approval.
IIW from India are authorized to assist the industries who are willing to comply the EU requirements and certify them. In most of the cases, we also undertake training for companies and then upgrade their quality standards. We are not directly involved in any manufacturing activities, but act as an umbrella, representing the small, medium, and large scale segments. IIW have a pool of experts available to help and assist the industries and to solve their issues relating to welding advancements. The experts use IIW as a forum to impart knowledge, and create awareness on the skill development program.
We have also opened up student chapters in some of the engineering colleges wherein the students can better understand welding sector and look forward as a career. Today, the general opinion of the public is that they are still not aware of welding as a career.
I would only like to emphasis on the fact that welding science and welding engineering has great carrier opportunities to the young engineers. We are proud that one of the milestone achievements for welding segment was the recent satellite, which off loaded 100 satellites in orbit. The satellite was fully welded. The company’s like Bharat Forge, BHEL, L&T, Godrej and more industries were all involved in this project. What a pride moment for the welding industry is this! One single launch vehicle carrying 104 satellite. Such project was never been designed in the history of world and the mankind, but has been developed by India. Engineers used 100 per cent indigenous welding technology, and that’s where the welding segment has reached.
What about the safety measures been followed in welding?
Safety has been one of the major issues in all the sectors. But today, awareness is being created. The established companies like the first top 15 manufacturers in the list generally follow safety very stringently, and the MSMEs and small scale industries, which constitute around 80 per cent of the manufacturing activities in India, need to upgrade the safety precautions. Large scale industries depend upon MSMEs, but here the awareness of safety needs to be improved. IIW, always and in every seminar conclude Jana Gana Mana along with safety subjects. We try to inculcate the habit of safety in manufacturing segment. Safety in welding is not a decorative accessory, but a mandatory requirement.