Bangalore-based Titan Engineering and Automation, a turnkey assembly and testing solutions provider to OEMs and suppliers, delivers bespoke end-to-end engineering solutions, right from concept stage through to commissioning of the systems.
As vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers the world over grapple to stay ahead of competition, high-quality production, speedy output and ability to react promptly to market trends pays dividends. While skilled manpower will continue to play a key role, automation helps create a system that is flexible, efficient and cost effective too, just what the industry requires in today’s disruptive times.
Titan Engineering and Automation Ltd (TEAL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Titan Company, a Tata Group firm, is one of the leading customised turnkey assembly and testing solutions providers to the global automotive sector and caters to leading OEMs and Tier 1 component suppliers. Of the various sectors it caters to – automotive, electrical, medical devices and FMCG – the auto sector dominates with nearly 75 percent.
TEAL says its machines are vital for any Tier 1 automotive supplier as they make approximately 60 percent of the vehicle parts. These versatile machines are capable of producing varied components including engine and transmission products, fuel injectors, clutches, starter motors, alternators, wiper motors, HVAC products, cooling fans, shock absorbers, steering column, brake parts, seatbelts, EGR, filters, differential linkages, air vents, ECUs, batteries and airbag electronic systems assembly. These machines essentially enable joining of multiple parts with as many as 12 joining technologies such as pressing, riveting and welding.
R Vivekanandah: "All the top 15 global Tier 1 automotive suppliers from Europe, USA and Japan are also our customers."
Leading Tier 1 suppliers in India and overseas who at the forefront of developing technologies and products benefiting fuel efficiency, safety, emission control and lightweighting need high-precision machines on their assembly lines, which run complex operations churning out a humongous number of critical parts. It helps that being part of Titan Company, that builds high-precision machines for making watches, the same learnings have been extended to automotive.
“In the automotive sector, we cater to mostly the MNCs and a few Indian companies. All the top 15 global Tier 1 automotive suppliers from Europe, USA and Japan are our customers,” says R Vivekanandah, CEO, TEAL.
BS VI and safety norms turn growth drivers
TEAL began its automation journey in 2005 with a small team of 25 engineers; this has grown to 150 engineers today. Over a decade, the company has carried out close to 500 assembly installations in India and more than 30 overseas. Typically, an average assembly line comprises nearly 10 machines. Each assembly line could range from three to 30 machines. These machines are not-off-the-shelf solutions as customer requirements vary. TEAL studies the customer’s needs such as the product, volumes, manufacturing processes and then comes up with the right solution. After design approval, TEAL starts manufacturing the line either as a full automatic, semi-automatic or lean concept. The pre-order engagement typically takes four to 16 weeks, with delivery period being between 26-42 weeks.
The majority of the products made on TEAL machines go into passenger cars and some into two-wheelers. The company says that every car running on the road in India today has at least one part is manufactured on a TEAL assembly line. Given the highly technologically advanced nature of the machines, TEAL imports nearly 70 percent parts like robots, PLCs and sensors, which are not available in India. The company says these imports will remain high as there are not enough volumes in India for them to be locally manufactured.
With BS VI emission norms mandatory from April 2020 in India, OEMs and suppliers are already hard at work in upgrading their systems, products and technologies. This also means an uptick in business for TEAL which has already bagged new orders. This year, it expects nearly 25 percent of its revenue from machines producing parts for BS VI-compliant powertrain. TEAL also sees upcoming safety norms as another opportunity to produce new machines for India Auto Inc.
Vivekanandah says TEAL has not invented anything but essentially gone along with its customers by understanding their specific requirements to design and engineer bespoke machines.
Speedy export growth
With OEMs and suppliers benefiting from the high reliability demonstrated by TEAL machines, demand for them is now 3-4 times higher than a couple of years ago, from India and overseas clientele. As a result, the company is seeing strong 20-30 percent annual growth and expects to log similar growth over the next couple of years.
In FY2018, of its total automotive business, 40 percent comprised exports where customers have deployed its machines at several manufacturing locations in Europe and USA. “Five years ago, close to 90 percent of our business was local but the past two years have seen a spurt in the export business. In FY2017, exports were about 15 percent of the total business, and went up to 45 percent in FY2018. This year we are expecting similar growth. Although we have not focused our attention to overseas markets, it is our customers who discovered value in our machines and are thus buying them for deployment across various manufacturing plants in Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Romania and even in China,” says Vivekanandah.
Titan Engineering plans to expand capacity at its Bangalore plant and is also looking to lease a ready plant to meet demand.
What makes TEAL a preferred machinery supplier is that it is proving highly competitive compared to European rivals, as a result of offering similar quality at reasonable prices. The company, which is staffed by over 300 professionals, says its success mantra essentially lies in building quality and reliable machines, top-notch service support and flexibility to accommodate customer requirements.
TEAL, which currently has 60,000 square feet of manufacturing area, is looking to expand capacity as business volumes are significantly rising. This will involve expansion not only at the existing plant but also exploring lease of a ready plant at other locations. “By next year, we are looking to add half of the current capacity and by 2020-21 almost double that,” reveals Vivekanandah.
To meet current and future requirements, the auto industry will need flexible manufacturing plants with the ability to change product lines often. Therefore, automation is an imperative on the shopfloor. With Indian OEMs currently seeing strong growth and the component industry catering to their growing volumes, demand for TEAL’s automation systems is bound to grow.
As they do in developed markets, robots are going to play a major role in the foreseeable future in India, and smart factories and Industry 4.0 are have come into play too. While some of TEAL’s global customers have already started working in these areas, India Auto Inc has still to pick up pace on this front, albeit the company believes there is growing awareness among the decision makers in that direction.
“Automation is the future for manufacturing. This is going to be an exciting journey for us. However, there are challenges along the way when it comes to finding people with the right skills and training them,” says Vivekanandah, pointing to a challenge that remains one of the crucial work areas for India Auto Inc.
(This article was first published in the 1 August 2018 issue of Autocar Professional)