Suprajit works on Vision 2.0 to be global supplier
The Bangalore-based Suprajit Engineering Ltd, a leading control cable manufacturer, is working on its Vision 2.0 to diversify products, to be a tier 1 player in India, to become a global supplier and to go beyond cables. The company began its operations in 1985 with 1 product in a small facility and supplied it to TVS Motor Company. Under its Vision 1.0 the company expanded its footprint across India and in the UK. It also started supplying its products to the other 2-wheeler manufacturers. Now, to grow further, Suprajit has laid a road map for the next 10-15 years with Vision 2.0.
“In the past we were a single product manufacturing company and were supplying to just 1 company. Later we expanded our manufacturing footprint with 15 factories in India and 1 manufacturing facility in the UK. After supplying to TVS Motor Company we partnered with all the other two-wheeler makers like Hero, Honda, Mahindra, Bajaj, Piaggio, Yamaha and Harley Davidson. Now we have multi-customers in twowheelers and also have sizeable market share in passenger cars, commercial vehicle and tractor segments. We are Tier 2 suppliers to Tata Motors, Mahindra and Hyundai and Tier 1 supplier for Maruti Suzuki. We achieved what we wanted to do in the Vision 1.0 and now we are working under Vision 2.0. Here our focus is to become a Tier 1 supplier in India, a global cable player and to go beyond cables by manufacturing the subsystems that go along with cables,” said Mohan N S, President, Suprajit Engineering Ltd.
Suprajit has 4 key initiatives to achieve the goals of the Vision 2.0. They are: Plant automation, focus on R&D, penetration into the US market, and appointment of gen-next personnel for unforeseen development.
The company is working on automating its plants to tide over the rising labour cost and the increasing shortage of skilled manpower. Suprajit is investing heavily to automate what it calls the 3D jobs (Dangerous, Dirty and Difficult). The company’s priority is not to be capital intensive and asset intensive but it feels they need to strike a balance to mitigate labour intensive.
The other major initiative of the company is the work on R&D. For this it has opened Suprajit Tech Centre (STC) in Chennai. The centre, operational since 2 years, has filed 1 patent, which has been registered in the US and in India. It is working on registering 3 more patents. The
company’s intention is to be a global technology leader. The patent that the company has filed is for one of its US customers on lawn mower application.
Mohan explained that, “we have put an actuator at one end of the cable and developed a mechanism for the lawn mower. Two of the other patents are for products and the third one is for a process to increase the life of the cable. In a nutshell the tech centre is working on mechanisms, product engineering and process engineering.” Recently Suprajit acquired a tech centre in Europe. It collaborates and works together with STC.
The third initiative is to penetrate into the US market and the company has opened an office there. Suprajit is planning to have more global presence by expanding its sales footprint and by establishing more facilities. “We have opened an office in the US as a part of vision 2.0 to have another facility outside India. With Brexit, we can’t consider our facility in the UK as Suprajit Europe. Now we need to open a facility in Continental Europe,” he said.
As a fourth initiative, Suprajit is recruiting gen-next personnel who are capable of becoming entrepreneurial engineers within the organisation. Apart from these, to bring in more visibility to the global OEMs and to make Suprajit Engineering more popular among them, last year the company conducted a technology road show, where it selected a few OEMs and Tier 1s and demonstrated its products and capabilities. Suprajit also provided some solutions to them after developing it at its STC here in India.
On the products front, Suprajit is increasing its portfolio and exploring opportunities beyond cables by either making brake assemblies or gear shifter assembly. Recently the company acquired Phoenix Lighting. “Our goal is very clear. We do not manufacture our customers’ products. We will look at only new avenues like brake assemblies or gear shifter assembly. The diversified product should be a strategic fit, not necessarily cable or end fitment. Phoenix acquisition happened as a part of Vision 2.0,” Mohan said.
Suprajit is also working on to become a Tier 1 supplier in India by manufacturing the entire system. “We will initially work with Tier 1 players and help them by providing solutions. Simultaneously we will work with the OEMs and look at solutions for them. We will work for new solutions rather than manufacturing the same product. This will help us realise the Vision 2.0 as we have to move ourselves from cable to non-cable areas,” he said.
The company’s focus would be to develop products at affordable cost with consistent quality and to give the entire system to avoid defects in the product. In the automotive industry Suprajit wants to position itself as a system supplier. “We are open for any kind of challenges and if opportunities knock at doors we will offer any kind of solution, and if it is a strategic fit we will even go for acquisition,” Mohan said.
Suprajit, which acquired Phoenix Lamps recently, is working on bringing new products to the Indian market. The priority of the company is to offer products that last longer and are more robust. It has 3 facilities in Noida, 2 in SEZ and 1 in DTA, with an overall capacity of 87 million bulbs. The current production is around 58 million bulbs and it has enough head room to cater to the future demand.
As the Indian drivers generally do nothing much to dim dazzling lights to avoid glare, the company is working on the geometries. It is also developing more robust bulbs that can withstand more efficiently and longer as Indian roads are rough in nature. “In headlamps, in terms of volume, scaled manufacturing and usage I don’t see any threat to halogen bulbs. There is a huge debate happening whether LEDs or HIDs will overcome halogen. I believe it won’t happen as halogen is more advantageous as headlamps than LEDs and HIDs. Moreover a lot of vehicles on the road with halogen bulbs need replacement and that number is huge. For tail lamps and signal lamps all are converting to LEDs from halogen due to multiple advantages. So we are looking at the LED market since the technology is evolving at a very fast phase. Our strategy is to get in when a new technology begins to stabilise,” Mohan said.
Suprajit makes mechanical speedometers, tachometers, fuel gauges and a variety of other instruments for all the major OEMs.
Presence in aftermarket
Suprajit has been very prominent in the aftermarket during the last 5 years. From being South-centric, it has become pan-India with a network of 250 distributors, with each State having 5 to 10. At present it gets about 70% of business from the southern region, from over 95% earlier, despite the pie becoming bigger. The company claims that the aftermarket is growing faster since it has products for almost every vehicle running in the country. Last year Suprajit exported around 18 to 20% and it is working to increase its exports business to 25-30% in the coming years.
N S Mohan, President, Suprajit Engineering