Engineering and automobile company, Premier Ltd. (formerly known as Premier Automobiles Ltd.), showcased three new CNC machines, along with a host of new technologies, developed in-house, at Imtex 2011 – the international machine tool show being held in Bangalore. Although not commonly known, Premier is a pioneer in the Indian machine tool industry, having started operations in 1961 under the ‘Cooper’ banner. Cooper machines are reputed for their technical capability and reliable performance. The brand name was changed to ‘Premier’ in 2005, under which the entire range of machines is now marketed.
Premier is the dominant player in CNC gear cutting machines, with a more than 70 pc market share in India. It provides a complete range of gear solutions: hobbing, shaping, shaving, gear tooth chamfering and rounding. This year, Premier presented the PHC 150 gear hobber that has been completely designed in-house, with dry cutting technology at extremely high speeds on par with international products. It also presented the PSC 250: a gear shaper with electronic helical guide; this technology was offered for the first time in India. The third machine; the PHA 400 is an intermediate range gear hobber to meet the needs of medium-sized gear applications in both the automotive and general engineering industry.
Premier is also a leading manufacturer of very large, heavy duty CNC machines such as vertical turning centres and customised special purpose machines, which were on display at Imtex. These machines are generally used in heavy engineering sectors such as railway workshops, heavy machinery manufacture, earth moving companies etc. Two years ago, Premier forayed into the fast-moving, high-volume small machining centre business with its own PVM40 machining centre, developed entirely by its in-house R&D. This model has now been completely revamped with significant technical upgradation to penetrate the SME customer base.
Premier has been associated with Imtex since its inception. Its late chairman Vinod Doshi was one of the founder members and former Presidents of the Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers Association (IMTMA), which promotes Imtex. In fact, in his memory, IMTMA has instituted the ‘Vinod Doshi Outstanding Entrepreneur Award’, which is conferred every year.
In the last three years, Premier has invested nearly Rs 300 crore to expand and modernise its Pune plant, of which nearly Rs 150 crore is exclusively used to upgrade its CNC machine building capability. This division occupies nearly 2 lakh sq. ft. of shed space and employs close to 800 people, including nearly 200 engineers. To fortify its marketing and after sales service infrastructure, Premier has recently opened technology centres in Pune, Delhi and Bangalore. It has also planned technology centres in Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chennai, to widen its nationwide presence. Its client list includes leading corporate Ashok Leyland, Mahindra, L&T, Godrej in the private sector and the Indian Railways, BHEL and defence organisations in the public sector.
According to Chairman and Managing Director, Maitreya Doshi, “CNC machines are a key focus of our company and we are actively looking for domestic and global acquisition opportunities to supplement our organic growth. We believe there is a significant manufacturing cost advantage compared with the West and our long-term plan is to enter markets beyond India.” As the first step, Premier has a strategic alliance involving marketing and component outsourcing with IMT, Italy, who own famous brands such as Morara, Favretto, among others. Colgar, MCM, FASPAR are other leading Italian brands working with Premier.
In addition to CNC machines, the company is also involved in heavy engineering and vehicles. The heavy engineering business provides components for the wind energy, power generation and infrastructure sectors. The vehicle division recently launched a compact diesel SUV called Premier Rio. Its portfolio also includes a 1.5 ton light commercial vehicle called the Premier Roadstar.
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