ViscoTec, the German supplier of automatic dosing pumps and dispensers, entered the Indian market in 2017. Vivek Ghewari, Country Manager, ViscoTec India (Business Development & Technical Sales), says the company has witnessed over 60 percent year-on-year sales growth in FY2020 on account of increasing electronics composition in vehicles.
Automotive electronics is an increasingly advancing industry segment. What is the growth Viscotec has registered over the past couple of years?
The increasing demand in this area is clearly noticeable, especially due to the fast-growing e-mobility market. The challenges here are the highly automated and complex processes with short cycle times. To meet this demand, ViscoTec is investing in its technology and expanding the global availability of our products by establishing new subsidiaries, like we did in India in 2017.
Who are your top clients in automotive electronics with demand for ViscoTec's solutions?
Nearly all automotive manufacturers in the USA, China, Japan, and Europe rely on automatic dosing pumps from ViscoTec. Due to non-disclosure agreements, we are unfortunately not allowed to mention any company names. But our dispensers are used for trickle impregnation of e-motors, for bonding emblems in steering wheels, for bonding loudspeakers, and various other applications — whenever fluids or pastes must be dosed absolutely precise and repeatable.
With electric vehicles set to become the new frontier, what technology is the company offering and what more are you doing at the R&D level?
ViscoTec has developed special ceramic rotors for its one- and two-component dispensers to deal with highly abrasive thermal gap filler materials. Those are used for thermal management dosing applications, for example battery pack assembly, BMS (battery management systems) and other ECUs (electronic control units). The ceramic rotors offer longer service life of the dispensing equipment, lowered consumables costs and a better return on investment for highly critical fluid dispensing applications in automotive electronics and e-mobility applications.
Further, ViscoTec has also developed a 100 percent metal-free dispenser, the vipro-Pump, to dispense highly chemically aggressive materials in electrolyte dispensing (for batteries or cell manufacturing). Highly reactive materials such as sulfuric acids, anaerobic curing acrylates and metal-sensitive electrolytes, which require special treatment in battery production, can be perfectly dispensed with the ViscoTec vipro-Pump. In order to prevent chemical reactions, such as curing or crystallisation, the area within the dispenser that comes into contact with the product is completely free of metal.
Can you elucidate the research being conducted with material companies?
We are not directly involved in the research of new materials. However, we support material companies and their customers in terms of designing suitable dispensing solutions for their materials. In our customer and innovation centre in Germany, we have a well-equipped technical laboratory with robots and axis systems, where the customer and the material supplier can convince themselves of our dispensing technology and validate their processes.
Are you focused to invest more in EV-application related solutions? Can you give an idea about the company's investment roadmap?
ViscoTec is a company that innovates and brings out at least two new products each year which bring unique solutions to the fluid dispensing field in various branches. ViscoTec is a reliable partner globally for critical fluid dispensing applications.
Over the past five years, the company has grown its employee headcount by more than double to around 260 employees globally. Further, looking at the growth in demand for our solutions globally, ViscoTec is investing in bigger production and office space at its headquarter in Germany.
In the past five years, ViscoTec has established at least two subsidiaries in India and France. Further, it continues to invest in growing its sales and service team to provide even better solutions to its customers globally.
Most of the applications in the EV industry are highly critical in nature. We come across applications like magnet bonding, battery pack sealing, slurry dispensing in cell manufacturing, potting of thermal conductive pastes inside a battery pack. ViscoTec works very closely with numerous material suppliers who provide potting, sealing, bonding or gap filler solutions to the end customers — to develop precise, accurate and more reliable fluid dispensing solutions. Further, looking at the future of e-mobility (both Li-ion and fuel cell technology), ViscoTec already has a dedicated team at its headquarter to cater to increasing applications in the EV industry.
How is ViscoTec India placed in the Group's global business? How much revenue / profit contribution comes from India?
Currently, ViscoTec India’s share is relatively small as compared to the global business. This is partially due to the fact that most critical parts (both automotive and electronics) are still imported from other Asian countries. Further, our experience in the past has shown us that India is a highly price-sensitive market. But the customers also value high quality, precise, accurate and reliable solutions. If the technology can provide the necessary solutions and value addition, then the customers are willing to pay the price accordingly. So, we believe with more localisation of critical process, the trend should change for better. This fact is also evident in the growth of business and increasing inflow of relevant enquiries we are registering from India. We have seen over 60 percent increase in our sales in FY2019, constant business in FY2020 despite the global pandemic, and further a similar growth of around 50 percent is expected in FY2021.
Additionally, due to the efforts taken by the current government of India under 'Make in India' and Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives and the incentives provided for the e-mobility sector under the FAME 1 and 2 initiatives, we believe India should become the next manufacturing hub in the Asian market. Since ViscoTec dispensing solutions are relevant for the automotive, auto components, auto electronics, e-mobility and electronics manufacturing sectors, we are confident that India will become a significant business hub for ViscoTec as well.
What are ViscoTec’s plans for business expansion in the domestic market and also on the export front?Looking at the increasing interest for more precise, accurate and automated fluid dispensing solutions in the Indian market, ViscoTec opened its subsidiary here in August 2017. Considering that ViscoTec generates around 40-45 percent of its global business from the automotive, auto components and related sectors the choice was obvious to be in Pune — the most important automotive hub in India and home to over 300 German companies. Our strategy to enter the Indian market is long-term, and we would like to cater to local demand by being near to the customers.
Our subsidiary in Pune is a sales and service subsidiary. We are expanding our team continuously and soon ViscoTec India plans to have local teams in major locations like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Pune.
Is the company happy about the skill-sets of people available in India? Are you tying up with any college / university to strike an industry-academia connect?ViscoTec in general already collaborates with universities very closely to stay in touch with the new advancements in material technology and production processes.
In India, we have been approached by a couple of elite institutes or start-up ecosystems at IITs to provide solutions in printed electronics, batteries or cell manufacturing, 3D printing using ceramics, and cellulose materials for bio-printing. And we constantly look to collaborate with such R&D institutions to explore new business areas.
As regards skill-sets for potential employees, finding the right talent and a right candidate who can fit into your company culture is always a big challenge. ViscoTec India is a sales and service subsidiary, and our products are highly technical in nature. Therefore, most of our employees are from a technical and engineering background. However, since our fluid dispensing solutions are used in various industries like automotive, auto components, electronics, aerospace, food, cosmetics, pharma and 3D printing, our requirement for suitable skill-sets also varies accordingly.
We look for candidates who bring a rich practical engineering background, who are willing to learn quickly, who are self-motivated and who are willing to go the extra mile in bringing technical solutions to our customers. Of course, our new employees undergo rigorous theoretical and practical training in India, as well as at our headquarters in Germany, depending on the requirement.
This interview was first published in Autocar Professional's March 1 issue.