Supra­jit works on Vi­sion 2.0 to be global sup­plier

Auto components India - - COVER STORY - Text : Bhar­gav TS

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.

Key ini­tia­tives

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.

Sys­tem­atic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion

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.

New Prod­ucts

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

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