Indian Foundry Challenged to Go Green and Youthful
A gasping smile on the conversation, if the new generation is interested in turning to Foundry Industry and ditch the white collar jobs… here comes the quick response with a big NO! “But that is what the challenge is", said an ascertained Mr. Sandeep Kulkarni, Foundry Manager with Kolhapur based Mahalaxmi Metals. He with more than 600 Foundry Men is making a trend by finding quick and effective solutions by collaborating digitally, proactively using the new age communication tools.
With an overall experience of 25 years in the Foundry Industry, Mr. Kulkarni feels that even if the Industry is losing its sheen amongst the others in the manufacturing Industry we still have a scope to survive, grow and overcome the challenges. “There were many ups and downs in the last 20 years of foundry industry. The industry had seen low downtrend as well as a huge hike in demand of the castings. The industry had a very fluctuating scenario with respect to raw material prices and power cost”. Adds Mr. Kulkarni.
Notably, Foundry industry is the mother of all industries, and India is among the largest manufacturer of metal castings globally, produces more than 10 million tonnes of castings in various metals such as grey iron, ductile iron, steel and aluminium alloys for various applications valued at approx $18 billion. However, because of the various problems faced by the industry, the growth in foundry sector over the last five years has remained stagnant.
Internationally placed and stiff competition from China and other European Countries
The Indian Foundry industry manufacturers metal cast components for applications in Auto, Tractor, Railways, Machine tools, Sanitary, Pipe Fittings, Defence, Aerospace, Earth Moving, Textile, Cement, Electrical, Power machinery, Pumps/ Valves, Wind turbine generators etc.
On being asked about Internationally placed and facing a stiff competition from leaders across the world, Mr. Kulkarni added, “India is one of the major suppliers of all types of castings globally. Though there is still a lot of competition we have stood high because of our quality, cost and delivery performance. India is also focusing on various new technologies and advanced processes to meet global requirements.”
“Cost has been an important aspect where we have been facing a serious competition from the global leaders like China, USA, and European Countries. Raw material and power costs are increasing heavily in our country which leads to close competition globally. Continuous fluctuation in currency in the global market is also a big challenge to the foundry industry.”
Challenges faced and Young minds intervention
Every growing Industry has a flip side and there are definite ways to overcome them. Foundry Industry is no alien! “We need to work on techniques to control our cost by reducing wastage, by adopting new technology and optimizing the present process. The Foundry industry is also working on measures to reduce the consumption of water, cut in use of power by up to 20 percent and improve productivity. This requires a lot of training to the existing manpower and involve some young blood whose intervention is required at all levels to see a consistent growth in the Industry”.
Foundry Industry has a reputation of being the Dirty and Dusty Industry with hardly any overnight rewards. So attracting the young minds and turning them into Industry innovators is a big challenge. “White collar jobs are definitely attractive than the sand filled lobbies and soiled environment. Hence without any argument, it justifies that the new generation is moving towards other result-oriented results. To get their attention to this Industry, we have to transform our self into dynamic and digital conditions. We have to adopt some world-class practices, improve our workspace management, improve on the environmental conditions, take the support of new technology and automation to reduce human fatigue”.
Dynamic Foundry Group (Whatsapp Group) - A game changer?
Social media networks continue to grow and evolve and, as they do, many more individuals are participating. Some industrial B2B organizations remain hesitant to jump on board, however, believing the average social media user is more focused on connecting with family and friends or keeping up with popular culture and news that they are with finding a manufacturing facility, for example.
As far as any marketing value is concerned, the general belief is that social media is reserved for direct-to-consumer companies that want to use it as a strategic tool to reach their audience and market their products. On being asked the same, here comes a response from Mr. Kulkarni, “Social Media undoubtedly has a reach but it is not only restricted with the marketing of products. We started Dynamic Foundry Group, our Whatsapp group and Telegram group with a motto of knowledge sharing, networking and connect with the foundry managers. When started in 2014, there were just three members but with the years we gained momentum and have now succeeded in getting more than 600 members. The discussions in the group are phenomenal! Not only the members are from a particular region or from our country but we have also seen manufacturers or experienced professionals from International grounds becoming members of the group and participating in discussions.”
“Not only discussions but with the help of the members, we are conducting seminars in various regions and also webinars for the convenience of the others. A lot of International experts who are a part of the group have voluntarily visited us in the seminars and presented talks to the participants. This group at the same time also gives out business opportunities to the members and employment opportunities to those who seek growth in the Industry”.
Word of mouth has a bigger role to play in reaching your target audience and this Whatsapp group is a perfect example! Collaboration with Belgaum Foundry Cluster, Vivekananda College, Government Polytechnic Kolhapur has been a great help in conducting various seminars, workshops, and various other events.
Trends in Foundry Industry
Understanding the energy consumption in all phases of plant operation lets you identify the areas where change can have the biggest impact on efficiency. Foundry industry is undergoing various changes in term of technology and automation. High-pressure molding lines, Induction melting with advanced technology, new environment-friendly Lost foam molding process, Fettling and Core shop automation by using robotics are some of the examples for the same.
Foundry Industry 2030
The foundry market research predicts the market in India to grow steadily during the predicted period and post a CAGR of over 10% by 2020. The increasing focus on technology upgrades will be one of the primary foundry market drivers.
Owing to the increasing demand for metal casting from the automotive sector, this region played a significant role in fueling the foundry market growth. The growth of the automotive industry is driven by the constant rising production of commercial vehicles, three wheelers, passenger vehicles and two-wheelers across the globe. This will compel foundries in the region to invest in new technologies and equipment.
“Next few years are very challenging for the Foundry industry. Specially with an era where the electric vehicles are on the doorstep, Foundry industry need to be very alert to cope up and face the situation ahead. The environment is one more challenge the foundry industry has to face in coming time. The phase which I see in next 10 years in foundry industry is “Green - Clean and Mean”.
Adopting new technologies like HPML lines, Robotics automation and Technology like Lost foam will help the industry to make it more environment-friendly and finally I definitely see a scope of a lot of young blood getting involved in the foundry industry”, concludes Mr. Kulkarni.
Interested to be part of this Dynamic Foundry Group, write to Sandeep at firstname.lastname@example.org