‘All our made-in-India products are of global quality.’

Dr Rainer Ohnheiser, president and CEO, Industrial Metrology Business Group, Carl Zeiss, speaks to Kiran Bajad on introducing its new computer tomography measurement service technology in India.

Kiran Bajad By Kiran Bajad calendar 15 Sep 2015 Views icon3504 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
‘All our made-in-India products are of global quality.’

Dr Rainer Ohnheiser, president and CEO, Industrial Metrology Business Group, Carl Zeiss, speaks to Kiran Bajad on introducing its new computer tomography measurement service technology in India.

Metrotomography combines metrology and computer tomography, which enables measurements in areas which previously could only be inspected with major restrictions – like the interior of highly complex components.

How important is the automotive industry for Carl Zeiss and how much does it contribute overall? 

Today most of our customers are related to the automotive industry, either big OEMs or Tier 1 suppliers. The auto industry is today – and in the future – important for us. I believe it will continue to have quality and metrology needs in the future and the trend to have more variations. 

There are two segments where we engage with automotive companies –car body panels and the powertrain.

The automotive sector contributes close to 60 percent to our overall global business. Worldwide, we cater to all the big OEMs like Volkswagen, GM, Daimler, Ford and Tier I suppliers like Bosch, Continental, ZF, TRW and many more.

In India we are working with all the key OEMs and every car in India is measured on Zeiss machines. Whether it’s Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors, Honda Cars, Mahindra & Mahindra, Mercedes-Benz, Ashok Leyland, Hero MotoCorp or TVS Motor, they all work with us. Name any manufacturer of two-wheelers, passenger cars and commercial vehicles and they have our products. Our machines are used from the Nano to a Mercedes, for all types of cars.

Has the past couple of years’ slowdown impacted Carl Zeiss’ India business?

Yes, our automotive business saw a setback but since we also cater to manufacturing for other sectors like aerospace and general engineering, our growth has been consistent.  We believe that the auto industry will pick up fast. At present, for Carl Zeiss, India ranks among the top 10 global markets and is catching up fast. China is the number three market for us, followed by Germany and the US.

Which machines do you manufacture in the Bangalore plant?

In our Bangalore plant we assemble quite a lot of machines for India as well as for export to South East Asia. Every product that is been manufactured in India is of global quality. If we manufacture something in India, it has to have the same acceptance, specification, processes and reliability as in the US or Germany. We have proved ourselves and delivered the same global standard quality products in India. 

So you import the material from Germany and then assemble them. Do you have local suppliers in India?

Yes, the key components are imported from Germany but there are other components which are locally sourced.  We have achieved nearly 50 percent localisation in our machines. Here, cost is not the only driver but in the process we have enhanced the local competencies and this is important for India.

Having being in India for over a decade now, how important are the India operations for Carl Zeiss globally?

In industrial meteorology we have four manufacturing locations globally – in Germany, US, China and India. This clearly shows the importance of the market and investments have also been made by looking at the future potential.

The bigger point is: where is India today and where do we expect India to be some years from now? I am absolutely convinced that India is still in the beginning of industrial development and, therefore, this is a clear investment for us into the future.

What are the investments you have made so far in?

While we cannot share our investment details in local operations but we have increased our manpower strength substantially over the past few years. We started with 8 people, then had 30 staffers five years ago and today we are almost 100-strong. This means we have grown rapidly and importantly working on all the global projects. We develop software for global projects, so the reach is truly international.

What is the export percentage out of India and are you looking to expand?

Our majority business is for the domestic market and we export nearly 25 percent of the total production from India. Our target is firstly to stabilise South East Asia exports, which have been growing well and our customers’ confidence is very high.

You have launched Computer Tomography (CT) measurement services in India. What are its highlights?

The new CT measurement service technology is the first of its kind that we are introducing in India and it helps bring down the product development time by nearly 70 percent. The entire developmental cycle will get reduced, which is important to being competitive in the market.

In the automotive industry, product lifecycles are shrinking dramatically, and manufacturers are under pressure to launch newer vehicle models faster than in the past. Also, carmakers in a bid to increase fuel efficiency are looking at lightweighting, so metal parts are getting replaced by plastic or fibre. They have to make this adaptation very fast and this is the right product. 

It’s not just the automotive industry but every engineering industry is looking to reduce the developmental cycle time and to achieve this you must have innovative technologies.

This new CT has got the innovations, a mix of working with product defects and the capability to do reverse engineering. This new product will help the engineering industry to be competitive. Shortening cycle times, more variations and making design elements cross-functional are the trends in manufacturing today.  

How many CT machines do you plan to sell in India?

The biggest hurdle today is the cost as it is very expensive. When you invest, then you should be 100 percent sure it addresses your problems – unless this confidence is not there, customers won’t buy.

This technology has been available in Germany for the past 5-6 years and we want to percolate it in India. Now customers here want to see it and therefore we have bought the technology in India and offer services where customers start believing though the results. So, overall, our aim is to make this innovative technology available, make customers aware and ensure they benefit from it.

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