With the semiconductor shortage wreaking havoc across the global automotive ecosystem, Gurgaon-based Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz is “somehow coping” with the disruption.
“We have been constantly talking to our suppliers, and these are global companies. It is just figuring out how best we can use alternatives, negotiate with them or change the designs in some ways that could help us in this situation,” Anuj Kapuria, founder and CEO told Autocar Professional recently.
However, unlike many other suppliers which rely purely on external design with their core expertise confined to manufacturing, his R&D-driven company holds the intellectual property rights for its hardware products.
“If there is a shortage, we have found alternatives…for instance, switching to a pin-to-pin compatible connector. I would not want to be in the position of a person who is making someone else’s design at this point in time,” adds Kapuria.
This is because raw material and electronics costs would have gone through the roof otherwise. On the contrary, Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz has been able to manage well so far as “we have control over the designs”.
“Despite these arrangements, the problem is far from over and we are feeling the pinch. Thankfully, we have been able to manage by keeping a tight track of the supply chain so that we do not slip on our commitments,” says Kapuria.
Even while there is a lot of talk by Indian policymakers on Atmanirbharat and the need for self-reliance, he admits it will take a while before this becomes a reality. By the end of the day, there are “practically no chip fabrication units” in the country.
The only silver lining is that there is a good crop of EDM (electronic design and manufacturing) companies, which can “at least manufacture the chips, printed boards as well as locally assemble the PCBs”. Even while “we are using these localised components”, the truth remains that the localisation content is “nowhere near where we would like it to be”.
Beyond this, Kapuria says it will take quite a while for India’s electronics industry to emerge truly competitive. “As our capacities and competencies increase, some players can provide enough volumes for our electronics industry to compete with China,” he says.
A key supplier for ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) solutions to Daimler India Commercial Vehicles, Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz prefers to source as many electronic child parts locally as it can. The idea is to streamline supplies and ensure smooth production at its customer’s end.
“While we are playing our part by ensuring that the design is owned by us, which, in a sense, means that we are not just adopting the ‘Make-in-India’ philosophy but ‘Design-in-India’ approach as well, this (lack of localisation) is a huge challenge, and needs to be addressed for sure,” says Kapuria.
As he candidly adds, localisation of electronics will not happen with just one player.. “the entire ecosystem will have to come together and play its part”.