Text & Photos: Bhargav TS

Bengaluru-based Bharat Fritz Werner Limited (BFW) one of the largest machine tool building company in India plans for new product launch in the fiscal 2015-16. As of now BFW has introduced 25 turning machines and 5 more are queued up to get launched. Recently the company acquired the Chennai-based engineering firm Proteck Machinery to have more presence in the turning machines. Currently BFW uses the Proteck’s Chennai facility for the production of high end turning machines and the Bengaluru facility is taking care of vertical and small turning machine production.

Speaking to Auto Components India, Ravi Raghavan, CEO, BFW said, “Turning machines are in-housed and we have to finish the complete analysis of the portfolio. Between we received lot of feedbacks on the existing arms of machines and redressing phase also has got opened. This fiscal we are going to be majorly into turning product development.”

Before acquiring Proteck, BFW was present in the milling, which had only 1 technology of vertical cutting in turning machines. But now it is ready to address more product ranges with bigger applications. BFW, which is into machine tool industry for past several decades, has its presence in the milling machines business, which is 50% of the machine cutting sector. In machine cutting, almost 50% of the market is milling machines, which cut the machine flat, the rest 50% is turning machines, which cuts the machines in a curve or a
round shape.

BFW has the oldest and biggest Special Purpose Machine (SPM) division where-in lot of customisation and bespoke auto components are catered to the cusomer’s specifications. Critical applications use SPM where lot of built-in automation solutions viz controller with multi function capabilities, gantry with robotic solutions inside are incorporated with critical insights. Making machines talk to each other is the company’s next milestone and has a conducive technical relation with Goodin Company to impart the same in the SPM and also to sell technical solutions in addition to the impartation.

BFW has come up with lot of design strengths and all the latest designs have a provision for automation. The buyer might go for manual version but later in an year’s time if the customer plans for automation functions in the machine it would cost him more to go for a new machine instead, a little program in his current machine will make the machine automated, says Raghavan. As industry is evolving the compatibility options are mandate to incorporate in the machines. Along with the backward compatibility forward compatibility also has been provisioned which makes the machine market-enticing.

Also he said, “India doesn’t require 100% automation. Safety and quality features can be automated but alternating people with robots is definitely not a good idea to be subsumed.” The cost of the manufacturing is critical for a country like India. But as long as the productivity is high, the recovery is more with zero downtime, cost is substantiated. BFW is very much keen in VAVE (Value Addition Value Engineering) and by means of this exercise they contemplate much on the non value parts and strive for increasing the quality a step more than the requisite.

Commenting on the units produced and the capacity utilisation Raghavan averred that, “With the exisiting facility currently we are able to output 2500 machines and the capacity utilisation has crossed almost 80%. We are on the look out of new facility without hindering the existing operations. We are not so hasty in looking out and there is no question of shifting of plants. We look for a facility mostly in Bengaluru where we could sustain for a minimum period of 15-20 years. Bengaluru has a very good supplier base and as a promising company in future we are missioning to get listed amongst top 20 players 3 years down the line. Also we plan the new facility to output 5000 machines with higher values and physical size to more than double the business which in-turn promulgates our mission.”

The company is also planning to construct the new facility to accommodate more production lines. The current manufacturing facility setup has more buildings and the process is hassle, be it the material handling or the raw material stocking. The up-coming facility setup is futuristic where the plans with regards to stock-in and goods-out are sketched dynamically and will be carried out in a single floor, reveals Raghavan. He also said, lot of buildings have to be avoided in-order to cater more product lines. Modern manufacturing practices would embrace our current facility.

BFW has touched a figure of Rs 850 crore in the fiscal 2014-15 and their mission of getting listed in top 20 players proportionates their investment values but the exact figure of investment decision is not revealed. With the industry operations facing out a recovery, the machine manufacturers will gain a leaping advantage to augment their business and the market portends a big hit for them. Companies such as Honda, Toyota, Bharat Forge and Ashok Leyland use BFW machines. BFW machines are also exported to a number of developed nations like Germany, Japan, and Russia.

BFW, which was incorporated in 1961, currently has more than 200 special variants in machine tools. There are more than 35,000 BFW products across the globe and these products find application in various industries such as automotive, defense, aerospace, die and mould. Its main manufacturing facility is located in Bengaluru and high technology machining centers are produced at its subsidiary MATEC in Germany. The company also has a strategic marketing alliance with Spinner of Germany.

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