Story by:Sricharan R

The Coimbatore-based Suba Plastics is planning to set up a new plant to meet the growing demand. The new plant is exclusively for manufacturing automotive components, which will be operational by 2021-22. The plastic component manufacturer has over 35 years of experience in plastic injection moulding technology and serves customers in different sectors like automotive, healthcare, medical, electrical and textile. Suba Plastics also extends support from concept to manufacture including product proposal, tool design, development and injection moulding.

“The plant which we had set up in 2017 was meant for both automotive and healthcare. But with a rise in demand, it is changed to health care products alone. The existing plant is of around 65,000 sqft area. As of now, we have about 12 machines and have plans to expand it to 26 machines. This is exclusively for oral care, part of the healthcare division. We will be replicating a similar plant of the same kind for the auto components. And, we also have plans to expand further to include other products for defence, aerospace etc. Over the next 2-3 years, the automotive plant will be ready and in the near future we will have 3 plants, each catering to different segments,” Geetha Baskaran, Managing Director, Suba Plastics, said.

Commenting on the upcoming plant, Geetha said, “We will start constructing the new plant soon, and it will be operational in 2 years. It will house 40 to 50 machines for automotive. For the healthcare plant, we have invested around Rs 20 crore and for the new facility we will be investing more than that.”

“The company’s mould gears range from module 0.7-3mm and outer diameter 5mm-150 mm with profile accuracy of DIN Class 10-12. They deliver the highest-quality end products to our clients, while determined to make them the frontrunners in their particular industries. To guarantee our unrelenting success we will accomplish a reasonable profit, continue to be the front-runner in our industry through individual and collective commitment, innovation, and integrity,” Geetha said.

Some of their major clients include Bosch, Valeo, Gates, Pricol etc, for whom they work as a Tier-I supplier. For companies like TVS and Sons, they supply directly for two-wheelers and three-wheelers. Most of the components of the company do not get much affected by the new trends like BSVI. They are aware of such changes happening in the market and are working towards to comply with the new norms. They are working on BSVI products for both two-wheelers and four-wheelers.

Suba Plastics provides one-stop solution from concept to manufacture. They hold the technical and manufacturing capability to manufacture with DIN class 8 accuracy and helical gears up to 15 degrees. With the EVs coming in, there will be a reduction in a number of moving parts in the auto components industry. But, this will not affect Suba Plastics as they are mostly into power windows and wipers. Their tensional pulley might get affected a little, but not much.

Entering new area

“We are entering into new product segments for BS VI norms and EVs. With the number of metal parts coming down there will be a rise in plastics. Nowadays some plastics are as strong as metal. This includes strength, abrasion-resistant etc. Plastics also have grown into different variants like glass fibre, carbon fibre and metal fibres etc., she said.”

“We are aware of such changes happening in the market. The gears, pulleys for engine motors, and gear tensioners are changing. The products will be the same, but we will have to comply with the new set of norms. Secondly some of the metal components are being converted into plastics. This is a level of new product development within the landscape. Our existing product line will not be affected much and there will be some modification in the design, as there will be a change from metal to plastic components,” Geetha said.

Though 3D printing also is a threat to the component industry, the plastics manufacturing company does not feel so. At present, they think that additive manufacturing will be useful only for models and prototyping. They look at this in the future when there would be a requirement. And, while scaling up the R&D centre they may set up a 3D printer. The other major trend being the lightweight of products, the component manufacturer is also looking at the possibilities of bringing down the weight in their products. One of the products, they are working on next-generation power windows will have less weight and will also differ in size. This brings down the weight and increases efficiency.

R&D

“We have around 15-20 people working in the R&D centre. Recently, for the development of BSVI products we invested around Rs 25 lakh. We do not have a specific budget to invest year on year. It keeps varying and our investment is based on the OEM requirements. During the developmental stage, we work with the OEMs. In some cases, whenever possible, we involver ourselves if there is an issue in product development,” Geetha said.

The company has a full design studio set-up here and takes up to 60 days to develop the design. Once the design is completed, it goes for validation. It will be six months of development period and six months of validation period. Recently the company worked with Bosch to reduce noise in power windows. They were able to achieve around 30% of noise reduction in the process and redesigned the product.

Industry 4.0

“We have started working on integrating all the machine data. We have the software installed that will capture things like, production time, products etc. All these are recorded including energy consumption. Now we are working on integrating it with our SAP and once that happens, we will be having all the data on what is going on in each and every machine. It is in the early phase of implementation and by the next 6 months we expect it to be complete and integrate it with the SAP,” the MD said.

The company is also planning to reach 0 PPM levels soon and is working on it. They are also in the process to reach zero defect in manufacturing. Within the next 2 years, they are planning to achieve this. To make sure to reach the goal, they are working on to install 3D cameras to check the quality of the parts. This will be done without human intervention. As Suba Plastics is present in various sectors, they have a lot of challenges. They take learnings from one sector and implement them on the other. One such thing is the PPM level. The automotive levels are much lower than any other segments and they are planning to reduce the PPM on the rest of the sectors too. “We are working on a common organisational standard and in a common learning platform. So we will be sharing that cross-learning from each other,” she said.

On how different they are from their competitors, Geetha said, “We concentrate on the state of the art machinery and quality systems. We have a strong design and development team. In certain components, we are a monopoly. For certain OEMs, we will be the only supplier because of the quality, critical dimension and non-critical dimensions. We can say that we are one among the best and many cannot beat us in terms of technical standards.”

Exports

At present, Suba Plastics exports to a few neighbouring countries and are planning to expand. They are looking to expand in the Asian market and are also looking at the possibility of the Middle East, the USA and Europe. In the US and European markets, they are looking for the possibility of joint ventures.

“It is going to be a 3-dimensional approach. In the Asian and Middle Eastern market, we will be mostly entering ourselves. But, the market is different in the US and Europe. So we are looking at JVs for those countries. We have different strategies for each of the markets. The JV is because we need to have local compliance in making sure to reach the quality standard,” the official said.

“We are looking at to enter various markets including aerospace, medical etc. and expand our business. We are also looking at BSVI and EVs and also venturing into new products like fuel corks etc. We are exploring other opportunities too,” Geetha said. ACI

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