An­to­nio Strafal­laci O.L.C.I En­gi­neer­ing


Please tell us about O.L.C.I En­gi­neer­ing Group’s ar­eas of busi­ness and world­wide op­er­a­tions, and the im­por­tant mile­stones the com­pany has achieved.

The O.L.C.I. En­gi­neer­ing Group started in 1987 in Torino, which is in the north-western re­gion of Italy, with a com­pany called CIMA; it was founded by the cur­rent President of the Ital­ian Group Hold­ing, Mr. Er­minio Ceresa. Through new foun­da­tions - first in Poland and then in Brasil - till the last one in In­dia in June 2015, the Group has grown to a strength of al­most 600 peo­ple across the world. Last year, a merger was car­ried out with the Chi­nese Efort Group that pro­duces in­dus­trial ro­bots and ro­botic ap­pli­ca­tions.

O.L.C.I. busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties en­com­pass In­dus­trial Au­to­ma­tion; it has been mainly fo­cused on the au­to­mo­tive mar­ket (for historical rea­sons), aerospace, rail­ways and gen­eral in­dus­try au­to­ma­tion. We pro­vide turnkey au­to­mated sys­tems to cus­tomers for their pro­duc­tion re­quire­ments. These in­clude au­to­mated weld­ing sys­tems and ro­botic cells for dif­fer­ent in­dus­trial ap­pli­ca­tions.

Our head­quar­ters and R&D Cen­ter are in Torino; and we have pro­duc­tion units in sev­eral other coun­tries so that we can im­ple­ment the com­plete process from or­der ac­qui­si­tion to or­der ex­e­cu­tion till fi­nal buy-off and after-sales as­sis­tance at the end-user’s premises.

What are your views about the In­dian trans­porta­tion in­dus­try: Rail­ways, Metro, and Au­to­mo­tives?

Here in In­dia, the digital di­vide does not seem to be an is­sue while the phys­i­cal one still is. In these years, ex­tra­or­di­nary in­vest­ments, al­ready ap­proved, will be used to build new in­fra­struc­ture and trans­form the ex­ist­ing, to fa­cil­i­tate mo­bil­ity across the coun­try. In a few years, In­dia will dra­mat­i­cally change in terms of pub­lic and pri­vate trans­porta­tion. In my view, e-buses and e-ve­hi­cles will be on the roads soon and we have, in fact, al­ready started our col­lab­o­ra­tion with the first com­pany to pro­to­type e-buses. Due to new pro­duc­tion re­quire­ments, au­to­ma­tion is re­ally re­quired to re­place the man­ual assem­bly process of the un­der­body of the bus.

For e-ve­hi­cles, we do not see any ma­jor changes in our col­lab­o­ra­tion with the car mak­ers in their body shops. But there is a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive as re­gards Met­ros and Rail­ways, where big in­vest­ments (of round $30 bil­lion) are be­ing made, and which re­quire a change in the Rail­ways In­dus­try’s pro­duc­tion process. They must in­crease pro­duc­tion and move from man­ual coach assem­bly to an au­to­mated process, and we can be their part­ners in this im­por­tant change.

What busi­ness po­ten­tial does O.L.C.I En­gi­neer­ing see in the In­dian mar­ket?

As it hap­pened in Poland and Brazil, where the com­pany fol­lowed its cus­tomers, in In­dia too, we were ex­pected to be there for our main au­to­mo­tive cus­tomer, FCA. So, at the end of 2014, the com­pany’s board de­cided to open an In­dian branch and I came to Pune in Jan­uary 2015.

After three and a half years of do­ing busi­ness in In­dia, we can say that the op­por­tu­ni­ties to work in the In­dus­trial Au­to­ma­tion sec­tor of In­dia are re­ally big. This is a big, young coun­try, and is cur­rently in a strongly grow­ing phase across dif­fer­ent states and in both ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas. For sure, growth re­quires gov­er­nance, which is very dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially from the point of the im­pact of in­dus­trial growth on the en­vi­ron­ment and the dif­fer­ent re­gional cul­tures.

As of now, our In­dian op­er­a­tions are fo­cused on Au­to­mo­tives, Rail­ways, and Gen­eral In­dus­try, with cus­tomers like FCA, VW, Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra, Al­stom and Tata Mo­tors, to whom we are pro­vid­ing ‘made in In­dia’ fix­tures and com­plete cells, fully or semi-au­to­mated. From de­sign to in­stal­la­tion and com­mis­sion­ing, the com­plete or­der ex­e­cu­tion is be­ing per­formed in In­dia.

What turnkey so­lu­tions and cus­tomer sup­port ser­vices do you pro­vide?

When a cus­tomer asks for a turnkey so­lu­tion, we pro­vide a sim­u­la­tion of our sys­tem and the con­cept de­sign for ap­proval, fol­low­ing which, we com­plete the de­sign to man­u­fac­ture the sys­tem and buy all the re­quired com­mer­cial items and equip­ment. Only after in-house in­stal­la­tion and tri­als, we get a green sig­nal from our cus­tomer to dis­patch the sys­tem to be in­stalled and com­mis­sioned at his site for the fi­nal buy off. Once pro­duc­tion starts, we pro­vide all the on­site as­sis­tance re­quired by the cus­tomer.

How do you find adapt­abil­ity to Euro­pean tech­nol­ogy by the cost­con­scious In­dian mar­ket?

I think that the In­dian mar­ket’s cost­con­scious­ness will change due to the big and fast changes in pro­duc­tion. In my view, it is time for the In­dian mar­ket to look closely at the lifecy­cle cost of the prod­ucts and ser­vices. To give a few ex­am­ples: roads can­not any more be re­paired after the mon­soon sea­son, to get dam­aged again dur­ing the next mon­soon sea­son; qual­ity re­peata­bil­ity has to be al­ways there in in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion; de­sign en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices do not have to al­ways re­quire a dou­ble check; and, last but not the least, peo­ple skill has to be ad­e­quate for this grow­ing mar­ket chal­lenge as skill de­vel­op­ment is a very ba­sic re­quire­ment. If you mea­sure the to­tal cost at the very end of your process, that one only is the real cost of the Prod­uct or Ser­vice you bought. That does not mean that costs will in­crease: on the con­trary, tak­ing care of the Lifecy­cle cost of the Prod­uct/Ser­vice, we will avoid costs in­crease and we will be able to en­sure a plus to In­dian com­pe­ti­tion for the fu­ture.

What is your strat­egy to make your pres­ence strong in In­dia?

Our strat­egy is to con­tinue wel­com­ing on board re­silient and in­no­va­tive peo­ple; and to en­vi­sion In­dia as one of the most sig­nif­i­cant coun­tries of the world. We have in­vested in set­ting up new fa­cil­i­ties in Pune and we are work­ing to­wards an in­te­gra­tion with all our sis­ter com­pa­nies in or­der to share the best prac­tices and the lessons learnt within our Group. One of our goals is to be­come a leader in au­to­ma­tion for the Rail­ways sec­tor of In­dia.

An­to­nio Strafal­laci, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, O.L.C.IEn­gi­neer­ing, is con­fi­dent of the busi­ness po­ten­tial in In­dia and aims to be­come the coun­try’s lead­ing in­dus­trial au­to­ma­tion provider. Ex­cerpts from an in­ter­view with Maria R.

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