New Delhi -- India's mold making sector needs to boost its capabilities to both meet rising demands from global firms operating in the country and dislodge the imported molds that have a large share of the Indian market in some key sectors, according to speakers at a recent conference there.
Rajiv Gandhi, executive director of production for carmaker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., suggested to the International Tooling Summit 2017 in New Delhi, for example, that the mold making industry and global firms like his should build stronger links.
"The auto industry is dependent on tooling imports," he said, noting that Maruti imports more than 50 percent of its tooling. "There is a large demand and supply gap, and efforts should be made to bridge it by investing in capabilities."
"There has to be an ecosystem where OEMs and suppliers support each other and coexist so that the overall growth objective is met," he told the conference, held Feb. 9-10 and sponsored by the Mumbai-based Tool and Gauge Manufacturers Association of India.
He said the need for the local Indian industry to upgrade is driven both by shorter product life cycles for cars in India and more stringent emissions and environmental standards.
"With Euro 6 (Bharat Stage VI) emission norms to be implemented by 2020 and growing environmental and safety concerns, tooling rooms have to be ready to meet the challenge and invest in quality tooling," Gandhi said.
The head of the tool and gauge association said Indian manufacturers are working to source more molds in India, and that could create opportunities for local firms.
"Major OEMs in India are working on a plan for indigenization of components getting into their main assemblies as per government guidelines," said TAGMA President A. Dayanand Reddy. "Policy reforms by government to make the procurement of tooling from indigenous sources will ensure growth in domestic production."
Reddy is also managing director of Hyderabad-based injection mold maker Vasantha Tool Crafts Pvt. Ltd.
While India's mold making sector is much smaller than China's, there is some evidence of increased foreign investment.
German-owned VEM Tooling Ltd., for example, said at the K 2016 fair in October that it was opening a small tool shop in Pune to complement its larger facilities in China and Thailand, because its multinational customers were "very keen" to increase their presence in India.
S.K. Arya, chairman of JBM Group, a $1.2 billion (8.27 billion RMB) auto supplier based in the city of Gurgaon, near Delhi, said Indian companies should source more tooling locally. He said his company has 12 toolrooms at multiple locations.
"Robust tooling is fundamental to the success of any product," he said. "Sustained training and learning culture is required to achieve world-class quality in tooling."
The auto industry seems more dependent on imported tools than others in India, according to estimates presented at the conference. Packaging makers, for example, may source 90 percent of their tools locally.
To help close that gap with international suppliers, the Indian mold making industry and government is investing in a new training center, TAGMA said.
The association and India's Department of Heavy Industry are jointly funding a $7.5 million (51.7 million RMB) facility in the city of Pune, a major automotive and electronics manufacturing hub, Reddy said. Similar centers are planned in Noida, Chennai and Bangalore.
The facility, which is scheduled to open by September, will include two injection molding presses to provide tryout and validation facilities for smaller enterprises and will help with training, TAGMA said.
"The center will focus on skill development and training by conducting courses on areas such as tooling design, entrepreneurial and managerial skills," Reddy said.