Ace group on a focused mission
Each of the companies within the fold has drafted a pragmatic business plan keeping in mind changing market dynamics, says T Murrali.
The training is offered under a separate division called Ace Micromatic LPM CNC Technology Centre where LPM stands for learn, practice and master. It is open to those who have finished school and are keen on studying the eight-week basic operator’s course. There are two types of training: for basic operators and higher levels. The course will have an equal share of classroom sessions and hands-on training at the machine shop. Besides, there are Q&As, interactive sessions, daily reviews and validation.
Ramesh said that the pilot batches were conducted at the technology centre located in the old manufacturing facility in Peenya industrial area. Ace now plans to construct a new building for this purpose towards which it has already bought the land. A similar initiative for a technology centre will be carried out in Chennai by April 2008, he added.
The company has a technology centre in Pune too and another at Gurgaon near Delhi will be operational this month. More are planned in Jamshedpur and Coimbatore. These centres train customers on application engineering and operators to use the machines. Ace Designers, the mother company, began as a machine tool design company in 1979 and got into making CNC lathes in 1986. It has since grown to be the largest manufacturer in India and makes many varieties of machines for various applications.
Ace also offers its buyers complete turnkey solutions to suit their turning needs, comprehensive tooled up solutions and TPM-friendly machines. The company has a customer base in Italy, France, Australia and the US. Established in 1973, Micromatic Grinding Technologies (MGTL), part of the Ace group, makes a wide range of external, internal, universal and special purpose cylindrical grinders. It has 200 employees and three plants. The machines are benchmarked against the best in the world. Spindle assembly and critical inspection is carried out in a clean room.
##### SHOPFLOOR SYSTEMS
The company adopts several shopfloor practices like TQM, quality circles, 5-S and self inspection. In addition to customers in the local market, it also exports to Germany, Italy, the UK, US, Brazil, Middle East and Australia. Pragathi, another group company, was established in 1977 to make precision machine tool accessories. With the advent of CNC technology in India, the company developed electromechanical tools and turrets and hydraulic rotary chucking cylinders for CNC lathes. There are more than 14,000 turrets with customers in India and in countries like Germany, Spain, Poland, Brazil, the US, Taiwan and Korea.
The Ace group also started Pioneer Computing Technologies which designs and develops products such as ‘TPM-Trak’ suite to meet specific needs of customers. This provides access to real-time production data and embeds intelligent decision making features. The gadget uses a closed loop feedback system, resulting in increased productivity and profits.
GENESIS OF AMS
Ace Manufacturing Systems (AMS) was established in 1994 by the promoters of Ace Designers and a group of technocrats to make machining centres. It has since become the country’s largest producer of vertical machining centres. AMS has state-of-the-art technology in its new plant to meet the needs of the local and overseas markets. It can make over 1,500 machines annually.
With growing demand for vertical machining centres, AMS plans to double capacity by building another shed within the same premises, said managing director P Ramadas. In his view, the backbone of the company’s growth is R&D and continuous improvement. AMS gives a lot of importance to customer feedback and its focus on technical leadership has done away with the need for any collaboration.
The Ace group companies are developing high speed machines required for higher accuracy level machining (like twin spindle machining centres) which will help customers move up the value chain.
In value terms, foreign companies cater to nearly 60 percent of the Indian machine tool industry. Ace operates in the volumes segment and believes that there is great potential in select import substitutes. Last year, the group invested Rs 10 crore on plant and machinery and has earmarked Rs 30 crore for the next three years on capacity expansion.
The group will have ended 2006-07 with Rs 520 crore turnover of which exports contributed to seven percent. It hopes to cross the Rs 1,000 crore mark by 2015 where the share of exports will be higher at 20 percent.
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