Emerging stronger from the pandemic, National Engineering Industries (NEI) is striving hard to offer localised solutions for multiple segments. Ashish Bhatia breaks down this intent to identify the new efficiencies added at the manufacturer.


National Engineering Indsutries Ltd. (NEI) is striving hard for excellence. In an effort to stay true to its claim of offering flexible solutions, the company wants to stop at nothing short of customer delight. According to Rohit Saboo, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the company used the pandemic for a complete overhaul of business with a close eye on the evolving customer demands. “We are aiming for faster turnaround time, faster development, improved production services and shorter product development cycles. We are also looking at partnering suppliers from India for newer materials to save on costs besides leveraging industry 4.0 in manufacturing technologies.” Opined Saboo, the automation and data exchange will contribute to the company’s agility over the coming months and will contribute to the development of native solutions.

With the threat of Covid-19 looming large, the manufacturer continues to have a large proportion of the workforce working remotely from home. Whilst building on its efficiencies, the company according to Saboo is mindful of the need to ensure the safety of these stakeholders and at the same time keep them engaged. Shared Saboo, “Led by engineers in the R&D division, the company built a splitter that allows one ventilator to be shared by two patients. It also builds 3D printed shields for the safety of frontline warriors across different walks of life.” Such activities in the early days of the pandemic are claimed to have boosted the morale of the workforce by inculcating a sense of involvement and commitment. This new found energy was then reinvested in streamlining the core business.

Efficiency positive
Within a week of the first lockdown announced in Q1FY2021, the company “was taken off guard” as per Saboo. It set off a chain of proactive measures including initiating a massive cost reduction programme to survive the fiscal year. Today the company is in a state of introducing new improvements across the manufacturing and the non-manufacturing processes in a fraction of the time compared to the erstwhile requirement. Gathering enough steam, the company has fast-tracked progress in the direction of industry 4.0 goals set two years ago. To do so, the company, said Saboo, has brought on board, the pan India supplier base to digitise in an 80:20 ratio. “We trained approximately 70 suppliers and a supply chain software was installed successfully, free of cost. It has led to the communication and processes with our suppliers turning seamless,” he averred.
To streamline the launch of its needle bearing targeted at OEs and industrial applications for both the domestic and international markets, for instance, the company needed to operate machines originating from Japan. To overcome the nearly four-month delay and limitations of flying down the Japanese experts, the company was able to compensate by getting virtual guidance instead from the concerned experts to go through the project.
The company leveraged its 2020 acquisition of Kinex Bearings, a move made in line with its product augmentation and strategic expansion plans, to take advantage of the unlocked state of Europe in the early days of the pandemic. “We used the time at hand for integrating remotely, and to connect at various levels across engineering and management,” he mentioned. The company with the closer integration, as a result, is benefitting from knowledge sharing and quality interactions in a two-way effort. The latter’s presence in aerospace bearing, in fact, has presented the company with an opportunity to introduce aerospace bearing into India. In line with the ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ programme for attaining self-reliance, the company is expected to leverage the technology but through local manufacture.

In another move to diversify the product range and offer complementary products to customers in railway, NEI recently announced a collaboration with Amsted Seals. The two will leverage their diverse expertise and experience to develop a Greenfield project located in Solitaire Industrial Park, Bagru, in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Spread across 2350 sq. m. it is expected to host best-in-class manufacturing techniques and equipment. The JV entity will market its products under the brand name NBC-Brenco. Automotive seals and products with metal fabrication are also known to be on the anvil.
At the plant level, the focus was on process improvement with an end objective of further improving the quality. “The better quality we produce, the fewer rejections we face,” Saboo quipped. It was achieved by progressing on data mining, on productivity. With significant operational efficiency, the processes, claimed Saboo, are leaner and agile. The company invested heavily in automation, connected machines, and used a data-centric approach to drive decision making. For instance,
the company implemented an entire energy management system for proactive maintenance and energy saving with the click of a button.

Future outlay
At the Auto Expo 2020, the company made public an Rs.100 core investment outlay to fuel its growth plans. Admitting to the timeline for the investment being pushed forward by six months, Saboo allayed the fears of a complete rollback in the aftermath of the pandemic. The move to request tier suppliers to delay the supplies by the same period is a testimony, he exclaimed. A significant portion of the outlay will also be utilised to increasingly source locally. “We have all already reduced our dependence on China, I would not say it is zero, but we are moving towards it.” Explaining it as a time-consuming process, he added, any raw material change has to be approved by the customer, and that change takes a long time in the automotive industry which the government needs to understand. “The Indian raw material suppliers also need to rise to the opportunity and develop the capability to supply to us,” he concluded. ACI
Read on for the excerpts of the exclusive interaction with Rohit Saboo, President and CEO, National Engineering Industries Ltd.


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