Manatec banks on new markets
Manatec Electronics Pvt Ltd, the Puducherry-based company, which provides the automotive industry a wide range of garage equipment, has ambitious plans this fiscal. The company is investing heavily into its new production facility in Karikkalampakkam, 17km away from its existing factory.
Elaborating on the company’s growth, Mananathan says: “Overall, we have recorded a growth of 12 percent during the last fiscal, while domestic market sales growth alone was 20 percent. We have done exceedingly well in the fourth quarter of 2008-09, compensating for the poor performance in mid-2008.”
Set up in 1987 with the objective of designing high-quality service station equipment to meet the needs of new-generation vehicles, Manatec designs and manufactures its entire range of garage equipment in its facility at the Industrial Estate, Thattanchavady, Puducherry. Talking about the product range, Mananathan says, “At present we manufacture eight products including wheel aligner, wheel balancer, tyre changer, emission smoke meter, gas analyser, automatic tyre inflator, headlamp aligner and lifting equipment. Our core product is the wheel aligner; we hold a 40 percent market share in this market segment in India”.
The company’s products have been approved by major automotive OEMs like Hyundai Motor India, Ford India, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Fiat, Eicher Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Skoda, JK Tyre, Bridgestone and Ceat Tyres. The company’s services include installation to commissioning of equipment and training to post-warranty services.
Emerging market in heavy vehicle workshops
The company has identified the heavy vehicle segment as a potential emerging market for its products. Mananathan says, “This sector was dormant for many years until recently, as the concern on rising tyre costs has prompted an increased awareness for alignment and balancing. An estimated average 30 percent savings in tyre life will result in enormous savings for a fleet owner. Increased usage of radial tyres and multi-axle vehicles has necessitated regular maintenance of wheels and wheel alignment. Unless all wheels are maintained, they will suffer from wear and tear, wobble and fuel consumption issues. Plus, being run for long distance, fleet owners will have to spend more on tyres if the wheels are not properly aligned. Our wheel aligner is also capable of multi-axle alignment. We have supplied our machines to a heavy vehicle garage client in Namakkal, which is successfully running for past 12 years”.
Manatec has leveraged its alignment expertise to custom-design wheel aligners for Ashok Leyland at its Hosur and Ennore plants. These customised aligners are integrated in the vehicle production line to measure and correct the toe angle every three minutes. This effort has enabled the company to secure approvals from Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland to supply its aligners to their bus and truck workshops.
Talking about the progress made in the tyre inflator business for the heavy vehicle segment, S Vijayaragavan, director (business development), says: “We did really well in the tyre inflator business during the last quarter of 2008. We have indigenously designed and developed a tyre inflator for buses. It is a trolley model custom-designed for heavy vehicles, so that they can move the tyre inflators on a trolley and keep it near the vehicle and fill air. This is especially very useful for any State Transport Undertaking (STU) fleet. Inflating these large tyres previously used to take 20-25 minutes; now that stands reduced to only three minutes. As STUs need to fill air quickly in their buses, they are choosing our tyre inflators.”
Much of the tyre inflator business comes from APSRTC, TNSTC and the Rajasthan State Transport Corporation. Manatec has also begun supplying tyre inflators to KSRTC. Now, the company is targeting private fleet operators and logistics companies for this product.
Manatec, which is a regular exporter of garage equipments to various countries, is bullish about its future exports prospects. M Kalaiichelvan, joint managing director, explains: “Going forward the thrust will be on exports. Our new production facility in Karikkalampakkam is aimed to churn out volumes that will be required for exports. We are migrating from batch process production to mass production of machines. The next three years will be crucial for us to successfully establish our footprint abroad. ”We have identified the US, Africa, and Middle East as our focus countries apart from South America where we are significantly present. European products have become expensive due to currency volatility and Chinese products suffer durability issues. This is where we see the opportunity. Our products will be designed with global technology and built for durability and affordably priced. Buyers abroad will thus a see a strong value proposition in our products”.
Research and development work is also a focus area. Mananathan says, “We are looking at elevating our R&D to a world-class infrastructure. All our products are developed in-house, from concept through to production. Our R&D department will develop world-class products that match European standards.”
All operations in the Manatec factory are ERP-controlled. “We use an Oracle-based programme; as part of the second phase, the linking of all marketing offices across India with ERP solution is underway and will be completed in a few weeks,” says Mananathan.
In 2006, Manatec Electronics adopted the ERP System and implemented all the modules like finance, distribution, order management, TQM, HR and payroll, planning and manufacturing, costing, customer relationship management, R&D, sub-contracting and MIS. These measures resulted in a remarkably reduced cycle time. With ERP systems in place, Manatec can make better forecasts, lower inventory, and boost production. Mananathan says, “ERP implementation has delivered more than what we expected. What we really needed was a solution that would integrate our various business functions like accounting, manufacturing and order processing, while complying with business requirements.”
The company is also the recipient of various Government of India awards including the prestigious ‘President of India Award’ for its achievements in the automotive field. Higher quality has led to quicker product approvals from ARAI as well as the Director General of Supplies and Disposals, automobile OEMs and tyre manufacturers. “Manatec considers itself a green company. It manufactures eco-friendly products in an eco-friendly manner,” adds Mananathan.
This year will see Manatec focus on expanding its existing capacity, develop the export market and increase its share in the heavy vehicle segment in India. The company has also approached the Puducherry Government for setting up an auto components cluster in the State.
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