Indian designers have earned great appreciation across the world and organizations like ISRO have made India proud. Indians have contributed significantly in the area of design and engineering to organizations globally including electronics manufacturing. Local demand for electronics goods is increasing exponentially and will need major manufacturing plants to manage the demand. Import of electronics is competing with oil imports and I am sure engineering community in India would want to curtail imports. Lack of component base, non-availability of mass manufacturing set up, global competition from established manufacturers and falling prices of electronics products pose challenges for local players particularly MSMEs. Investments required to cope this huge demand is humongous and requires collaborative efforts of Govts, large manufacturing set ups and MSMEs in the immediate future. There is an urgent need for setting up state of the art Fabs and providing infrastructure to boost electronics manufacturing in the country. This will help large manufacturing companies supported by MSMEs to contribute to India’s ESDM (Electronics system design and manufacturing) market.
Exclusive Interview with Mrs. Rama, CEO of ELCITA / ELCIA
How was ELCIA Cluster formed? What are its aims?
Electronics city Industries Association formed in 1992, had the objective to create required infrastructure for companies in electronics city and support them in their business. ELCIA has always believed in collaborative approach in making things happen be it improvement of Hosur road, smart management of Township or improvement of Govt schools around electronics city. ELCIA’s objectives include advocacy, skill development and business development support to companies. When Govt announced the cluster development program (CDP) ELCIA brought MSMEs together, formed an SPV to create electronics cluster. ELCIA cluster was intended to set up electronics design, prototype and small volume manufacturing of electronics products as conceived by MSMEs in and around electronics city. The common facility center was planned as a shared facility to all members and non-members so that they can try out their new products and augment manufacture using the machine shop and electronics assembly.
The ELCIA cluster has state of the art machinery that can be used for precision product development and manufacturing by those who have great ideas but limited resources to try them out.
How can companies apply to use the CFC?
The ELCIA Cluster and its CFC is a valuable asset at Electronics City that should be used for creating new product lines and augment existing capacity. Any company who is interest in converting their ideas & designs into prototypes & products ready for manufacture can use the shared facility. Companies normally visit the facility understand the capability and make a proposal to use the facility. Depending on the availability, the time slots will be allocated for the work. Companies have a choice of bringing their own raw materials, skilled labor or using cluster’s men and materials. Rates for standard component manufacture, assembly or testing is available, specialized jobs will depend on the machine man hours and complexity of the component or subassembly.
Will you also certify products manufactured by these companies?
Though we currently do not offer certifications, we plan to provide this service when we have the requisite experience and few equipment that are required to be added. We have an environmental testing facility that can be the starting point for certification. We are also planning to partner with such certification service providers.
How do you help your member companies until they finish manufacturing their product or will you let them access machineries for certain period of time?
At the CFC, we help member companies not only in their design and manufacturing process, but also in networking with other member and non-member companies so that they learn from each other. When a company has created a product, generally they know the process. We hand hold those who do not have manufacturing experience yet. We have our people at the CFC who will assist companies, but we also welcome those who bring in expertise. Duration of usage depends on requirement and availability. We can run additional shifts to cater for such special requirements.
Will ELCIA Cluster help only ESDM companies?
ELCIA cluster has facility to manufacture mechanical parts, PCB, SMD assembly, testing and quality checks. Companies can use any or all of the facilities and need not be ESDM companies. Today every product has some electronics and every electronics product has mechanical assembly. Most systems require mechanical and electronic components, and the Cluster is equipped to facilitate manufacturing of both. Companies are welcome to use any part of the facility including 3D printing, laser cutting machine or SMD line.
For example, sheet metal items, aerospace parts, water meters, among others can be manufactured. We think this facility will inspire entrepreneurs and startups to come up with innovative products with good design. Our facility can be used by any company that has a plan to design and build useful products.
What is your funding model?
Investment was around Rs. 14.5 crores for the machineries at the CFC, 70% of which was funded by GoI, 15% by GoK and balance 15% by ELCIA and ELCIA cluster members. ELCIA has also provided the land and building for common facility center.
How many members do ELCIA Cluster have? Who are some of the popular names using the CFC at ELCIA Cluster?
There are about 34 MSME member companies of the ELCIA Cluster. Of these, some of the popular names are Radel, Synthesis, TESCOM, HICAL, Bhavani industries, Konar, Customised Technologies, Syscon Calibration, among others.
How do ELCIA members play a role in this initiative?
ELCIA has played a huge role in formation of SPV, preparation of DPR, getting the requirements of members, getting approvals from Govt, construction of building and continues to support the cluster
What kind of training do you provide MSME companies?
Training is required at all levels of organization. Despite skill development policies of the government, its implementation has proved to be a challenge due to various reasons. However, if a company wants to be successful, it has to train and skill its workforce. ELCIA has started providing training to MSMEs.
We have partnered with GIZ and Bosch who have training experience. We have partnered with the CII and other associations enabling us to network with companies in other spaces. We provide generic hands-on training to employees, both in content and soft skills to all levels from entry level to senior management, emphasizing on current industry requirements and on-the-job training.
How will initiatives like this shape the Indian electronics industry in the future?
This is a great collaborative initiative floated by Government of India , supported by Government of Karnataka and implemented by ELCIA. We see companies making significant strides in their design and manufacturing process. This model needs be replicated in many cities in India with assistance and funding from the Government of India and the respective states. India has made significant impact in the software industry. It is time India emerged in production of niche electronics products.
MSMEs have a major role to play in designing and manufacturing niche electronics products. The high cost of investment of equipment has deterred manufacturing companies from manufacturing products, forcing companies to shelve key projects due high capital investment in this sector
We would like such facilities that reduces the cost of capital for design and manufacturing must come up across the country. While Cluster and CFCs help companies produce niche products and components, there must be big investments to reduce import bills. We believe this can give much needed impetus to ESDM in the country.