Company Description: Headquartered
in Gurgaon, KUKA Robotics India Private Limited set up its operations in May
2006 and provides customised and turnkey solutions to its customers. The KUKA
Group’s standard portfolio of products comprise industrial robots, robots
systems, PC-based robot controllers, motion control systems, robot application
and simulation software, linear units, positioners and robot training. The
production of KUKA Robotics is carried out at KUKA Roboter GmbH in Augsburg,
Germany. KUKA India has today managed to capture a significant share of the
country’s automotive market segment in addition to acquiring multitude customers
in the engineering, foundry & forging, plastics, metal working and
logistics industries. KUKA India managed to win the largest order from
automotive company Tata Motors in India for more than 300 industrial robots in
2006. This was followed in 2007 and 2008 by further orders from Tata for BIW
line robots for the new Sumo Grande and Xenon models as well as for the Aria.
The Indian automotive industry
has evolved radically in the last several years. Has this led to robot
automation at manufacturing facilities of automobile manufacturers? What about
the component industry are robots in use here too?
Yes, the robot market has grown at a fast rate at the
manufacturing facilities of automobile manufacturers. During CY 2011, roughly
1,400 robots were sold in India. So the market is doubling. In the auto
component industry, which is known as tier-I and tier-II industries, the use of
robots has increased significantly.
India is a land of cheap
labour. Does robot automation offer advantages that are far superior and better
than what can be expected from employing cheap labour? Do give examples of the
different applications that your products provide for the automotive industry?
We do not compare our products with the labour available
in the country. The labour charges may not be as cheap as it used to be so many
years ago. There have been many changes in this aspect. On the other hand, what
we are targeting are the applications which demand repetitive work in nature.
And it could be pertaining to certain hazardous tasks or heavyweight
activities. For example, in the automotive industry it could be spot welding.
Although, it can be executed manually, there will be a consistency problem.
Moreover, it will be difficult to maintain the quality of the product.
Furthermore, we need a very high level of productivity.
Can you a name a few clients
you currently serve in India? Do you have competition in this area? What is
your company’s share in the overall robot automation business?
Our primary clients include Tata Motors, Volkswagen, Ashok
Leyland and Daimler. We are mostly
competing with Japanese companies. In our business area, we have a marketshare
of around 20pc.
Do you have any plans to
manufacture your robots here?
No. If you see the other side of the story, upcoming OE
companies setting up their manufacturing bases here are looking for robots for
production. But the numbers required are very less. Around 1,400 robots were sold to all the
manufacturers in India last year. In China, the figure is at 10,000 units. Moreover,
the industry is not investing so much vis-à-vis other countries like China.
This is because they are skeptical of the government regulations.
The flip side to robot
automation is that it requires uninterrupted and quality power. Is this a
deterrent in a country like India?
Not exactly, for the last 6+ years in India, our robots do
not run on captive power. They are sturdy enough and have a big tolerance
range. And we did not make any changes
for the Indian market.
Robot automation is popular in
foreign countries more so because of the dwindling population. India may never
have such a problem. So does it also mean that robot automation stands a bleak
chance in succeeding in a country like ours?
The use of robots will not be compared to the availability
of labour. Yes, in Europe, it was a factor as the wages over there went very
high. The criteria were getting more and more complex for the owners of the
companies to run their production. But here in India, there is no alternative
to high quality production. Whatever has to be produced here for overseas
markets, we need robots to churn it out. Otherwise we cannot maintain a
consistent quality. There are also some hazardous implications for foundry and
forging applications. It is very difficult for humans to produce it. So the
productivity of the industry is going up by employing the robots. Apart from this, the local market
availability, the country’s infrastructure, etc, to support the industry is not
up to the mark.
Are you coming out with any new
products especially the ones tailor-made for the Indian market?
We came up with three products for the medical industry,
which got a good response in India as well. In the automotive segment, we
introduced the KUKA Quantec series robots which consume less energy and occupy
quite less space and are more fast and accurate than its predecessor series.
What is your vision about your
company? Do you have any plans to increase the volumes? If yes, by how much?
We aim to be the number one robot supplier in India (both
automotive and industrial segments) just like the way we are in Europe. Of course, India is a growing market and we
see it as something which will be coming up in the future. We expect our
volumes to grow in the coming years. But we cannot predict any numbers as it is
dependent on the manufacturers’ requirements.
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