Where the Indian automotive industry is facing some strong headwinds due to the prolonged downturn in the market, which has been going on for almost a complete year, business leaders are of the view that while capex on expansion could be put up on hold, investments on R&D and capability enhancement should remain uninterrupted as they generally bear fruit in the long-run.
Using the same philosophy, unified body of automotive component manufacturers in India, ACMA, has set up a new design lab at its centre of excellence (CoE) christened 'Saksham', which is under operations at the IIT Delhi's second campus housed in the Rajiv Gandhi Education City, in Sonipat, Haryana.
ACMA today inaugurated the new design lab inside the CoE with an aim of imparting hands-on training and experience in component design, simulation and manufacturability analysis to engineers of its member companies, most of which are MSMEs.
The lab, having 16 stations, can train people on stamping die design, sheet metal and plastic part design, lightweighting, new product development as well as EV development, all using the 3DExperience suite of Dassault Systemes offering tools such as Catia 3D and Simulia.
It would also offer 'reverse engineering' capabilities by scanning the physical prototype using a 3D scanner and import all dimensional data into CAD for die design, modification and inspection. A 5-MP resolution 3D scanner from Germany's Hexagon is installed inside the design lab.
According to Deepak Jain, president, ACMA and CMD, Lumax Industries, "While the industry is going through some pains and we have to endure that in our own ways, what we can do in such times of downturn is to keep building capabilities and also strengthen our relationship with the academia. This is the best time to keep innovating and build competency."
With having a complete module for EVs which will allow engineers to get acquainted with an EV's architecture and design battery and electric powertrain using dedicated software, ACMA is also proactively working to launch EV-related courses at the CoE in the near future.
According to Vinnie Mehta, director general, ACMA, "ACMA intends to build awareness and sensitise engineers working in supplier firms about electric mobility and be future-ready. We will be shortly launching courses on e-mobility by use of integrated applications within the software suite available in the lab."
ACMA also updated the mechatronics lab which was instated inside the CoE last year and has now been updated with new tools and equipment for hydraulic, pneumatic and robotic training for Industry 4.0 applications.
Established in July last year, the ACMA Saksham CoE has already seen 15 training programmes being successfully conducted in the last 12 months, which has seen participation from 170 member companies and over 400 people getting trained. While it offers short learning programmes spanning 2-3 days, ACMA is also devising a long-term program of six months along with SAE India. The CoE also offers boarding and lodging facilities to participants in the institution's hostels. There's also a behavioural lab which takes care of improving soft skills of the incoming participants.
"The CoE project right now is undertaking baby steps and to whoever we have spoken to so far in the industry including OEMs, have given us good support and feedback. We actually want to replicate the CoE and try and bring it closer to the industry in all the four automotive hubs in the country," added Jain.
ACMA has so far invested close to Rs 4.5 crore into the Saksham project, which, it says, has been completely self-funded by the body without taking any government support. It is paying a monthly rental for using the premises of the IIT's campus and has also collaborated with AOTS of Japan, VDA of Europe, Maruti Centre for Excellence as well as Cardiff University.
"We will continue to enhance more partnerships going forward and from the four current partnerships, we aim to go up to 10 knowledge partners over the next year. From labour arbitrage, the aim is to go to knowledge arbitrage," added the ACMA president.
ACMA also runs cluster programmes to impart semi-automation, complete automation as well as Industry 4.0 techniques to the automotive industry. "In these times of changing industry dynamics, we need to keep skilling and re-skilling our manpower," concluded Jain.