To manufacture the whole, the proximity to suppliers is vital. Prateek Pardeshi checks on how Chakan is fighting back to help retain Maharashtra’s supremacy as a leading manufacturing hub.

Once knighted as the Detroit of India, Chakan, 30 kms from tier 2 city Pune has had to put up a fierce fight for Maharashtra to retain its supremacy as a manufacturing hub. The competition is getting stiffer against other states like Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the country among other states also vying for the numero uno status. In Maharashtra, the industrial hub in the Chakan belt is undoubtedly the brewing ground for both legacy manufacturers and startups alike. It is also a choice of Centre of Excellences (CoEs) fed by a steady pool of skilled manpower and fresh IT and engineering graduates that are a constant. Strategically located on the National Highway 50 (NH 50), it benefits from its proximity to the Mumbai-Pune Highway, Pune-Nashik Highway, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Talegaon Industrial Area, Pimpri-Chinchwad Industrial Area, Pune International Airport and the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport and Nashik. Chakan is benefits from its connectivity to Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad by an extensive road network. It also benefits from rail and air connectivity. The Phase III of Pune Metro would connect Chakan to Moshi, and further link it to an International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A global front

Sunjay Kapur, Chairman at Sona Comstar and President, ACMA

Vivek Vikram Singh, Managing Director and Group Chief Executive Officer, Sona Comstar

Recently, tier 1 supplier Sona BLW Precision Forgings Ltd. (Sona Comstar) shifted out of Bhosari, in Pune to a new unit. It opened its second-largest manufacturing plant in Chakan for drive line products, for EV and non-EV applications for both the domestic and export markets. The facility is known to span 10 acres and boasts of a manufacturing capacity of about 11.8 mn gears, with a target of 20.1 mn differential gears by the end of FY25. It is set up with an estimated investment of Rs.231 crore. “We are proud to inaugurate our new plant in Chakan,” Sunjay Kapur, Chairman of Sona Comstar and President, of ACMA expressed. The Chakan plant is equipped with manufacturing equipment; houses an advanced tool and die shop and employs highly skilled workers to ensure the highest standards of quality and efficiency.

The facility also features advanced testing and inspection equipment to ensure that all products meet or exceed the strictest industry standards. V. Vikram Verma, Chief Executive Officer of the Driveline business at Sona Comstar, added, “The plant’s strategic location in the automotive hub of India will help us better serve our customers in the western and southern regions. We are confident that the new plant will enable us to meet the increasing demand for our products and accelerate our growth.”

In 2015, tier1 supplier ZF Group announced an expansion at its regional headquarters in Chakan. Back then its facility with a 16,770 sq. m. built-up space was fully utilised with commercial vehicles, car power trains and the aftermarket business. So, the company announced a new production complex with 4,000 sq. m. that would bring in additional space to accommodate further production and warehousing activities.

It is announcements like these that elevated the status of Chakan coupled with the presence of leading OEMs in close proximity to their tier1 supplier partners. OEMs also take solace in Chakan’s proximity to nodal agencies for type approval and homologation. For instance, it is about 36.5 kms to Kothrud where the premiere institute, the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) is housed. At 20 km, one can reach the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT) at Pimpri Chinchwad.

Chakan is also home to the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and boasts of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The industrial district of Chakan includes both MIDC leasehold and resale freehold units. Chakan MIDC developed this 246-hectare region with basic and high-quality infrastructure, attracting numerous large industrial parks. More than 100 companies in the automotive space including well-established OEMs, tier suppliers and startups are known to have zeroed in on Chakan as a testimony. Time and again, manufacturers have admitted to the strategic advantages of setting up a manufacturing base in Chakan. Anirudh Bhuwalka, Chief Executive Officer, of Blue Energy Motors, said, “Chakan is a home ground where all spare parts and big players of the automotive component industry have their manufacturing units here, so spare part availability is never an issue.” In December 2022, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) announced Rs.10,000 crore (USD 1.2 bn) investment earmarked for an up to eight-year period for a EV manufacturing plant, in the Pune region, approved under the Maharashtra Government’s industrial promotion scheme for EVs.

Movement of parts

Swift movement of parts is crucial to the ‘Just-In-Time’ or ‘Just-In-Case’ requirements. Here logistics plays a crucial role. At Chakan, the concentration of freight carriers has proved to be a boon. M/S Maruti Suzuki, APL Logistics, IVC, JKTIPL, Touax Texmaco, Adani Logistics and TCI are among the companies handling a major chunk of the cargo. The proximity to Nhava Sheva, Navi Mumbai, at an estimated distance of 150 km boosts multimodal connectivity further.

The announcement by Mahindra Logistics Ltd. of a one million sq. ft. park at Chakan is a significant development too. Talegaon-II, part of the Chakan Talegaon Industrial Corridor (CTIC) is among the sought-after manufacturing clusters in India. The manufacturing base for large auto, engineering, and electronics companies is witnessing a spurt of activity, courtesy, the impetus on higher localisation. Rampraveen Swaminathan, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Mahindra Logistics deems it to be one of India’s leading industrial and consumption clusters. “The region is the largest area for Mahindra Logistics, and we are pleased to announce this investment in partnership with Ascendas-Firstpace,” he states.

Supporting infra

Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. (MSEDCL) is known to have commissioned three new switching stations. With capacity augmentation, MIDC Electricity Improvement Scheme is expected to offer the necessary power infra to industrial suppliers based out of Chakan MIDC. Chakan MIDC has approved an expenditure plan of Rs.15.49 crore under the Electricity System Improvement Scheme (ESIS). As a result, a more reliable and consistent power supply will be offered to nearly 3200 industrial clients including automotive establishments. ACI

Also, read FPT Industrial India Foray


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