Amolak Preet Singh, Managing Director of Haimer talks about how the company is helping its customers move towards process improvement and automation.
Haimer is a family owned company based in Igenhausen, Bavaria in Germany. Established more than 40 years ago, the company designs and produces high-precision products for metal cutting as well as for other branches including automotive, aerospace, energy, rail, and general machining.
In addition to its large offering of tool holders, shrinking and balancing machines, as well as 3D sensors, Haimer is now also offering tool presetting machines. On top of that, the company has an entire tool management program, and solid carbide end milling program for machining centres.
Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News recently sat down with Amolak Preet Singh, Managing Director, SEA, NZ and India, Haimer, to talk about the company’s Thailand market, how they are helping customers improve their processes, and the company’s strategy towards Industry 4.0.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE YOU SEEING IN THAILAND?
Amolak Preet Singh (AS): Thailand has been a great market for us in the past two years since we started to revamp our operations here. The business has grown three times in the last 2 years. We are seeing great opportunity not only in the aerospace industry, which has been growing here, but also the die and mould sectors, and the automotive sector. Worldwide, there is a greater push that is happening now towards Industry 4.0, and Thailand has started to take the first steps towards the direction moving towards it. We can see a lot of companies who are really talking about it.
There is also the emphasis being given now on improving machine efficiencies. That opens completely new doors for us from a business point of view. And I think the requirement for reducing the cost and improving machine efficiency is growing tremendously, so we are trying to partner with the industry on their overall processes to reduce their manufacturing costs.
Although the automotive industry is not growing in a big way, from a Haimer perspective, it is a great opportunity because the customers are still looking at major process improvements to reduce their costs. That’s where we are coming in as a partner—so from our perspective, the opportunity for us to grow in the automotive sector is massive here.
WHAT MANUFACTURING CHALLENGES ARE CUSTOMERS COMING TO YOU FOR?
AS: Most of the customers still look at Haimer as a supplier of world class tool holders and 3D sensors. That’s a perception that we are trying to change, especially in the past two years. And honestly, that’s our challenge—to change customers’ perceptions, from looking at Haimer not just as a company that supplies world’s best quality tool holders, but as an integrated supplier for all requirements around the machine. That’s where we are adding a lot of value to our customers.
And we are already seeing great success with the customers we are working with, in that once they start to use one Haimer product, they invariably start to use the other one because, at the end of the day, it is helping them reduce their costs.
We have made good inroads into our customers, especially in the aerospace, automotive sectors, and die and mould sector, when it comes to improving their throughputs and production, or reducing their throughput costs. And we have unique products which, keeping everything constant, can help them either improve their productivity or reduce their consumable costs by 30 to 50 percent.
HOW DO YOU HELP CUSTOMERS MOVE TOWARDS INDUSTRY 4.0?
AS: Industry 4.0 is a very big subject. Sometimes a little bit vague, I would say. It means different things to different people. But to put it in a very simple way where the manufacturing process is concerned—I would say, can we help them reduce their dependence on people, improve their processes, and in that process, improve their machine efficiency, so that costs could come down? That’s where we are trying to focus at the initial level.
A very simple example is our shrink machine. A lot of people have huge issues in operating shrink machines—they need to train their people, the same as with the pre-setting machines.
Now, our new machines come with a QR code and RFID, so you don’t even need an trained operator to be running those machines. You just scan it, and the machine does everything automatically.
We are looking at Industry 4.0 more on automating the process, reducing the dependence on people, because getting skilled operators is becoming a huge challenge. We also have high-end software to link different machines, but I would say that’s at a second stage right now.
YOUR TOOLS ARE QUITE ADVANCED. ARE THEY SUITABLE FOR THE MARKETS HERE IN SEASIA?
AS: That’s a very good question, and that’s where I think we, being the technology leaders and worldwide leaders in most of the fields we operate in, have a bigger responsibility as regards helping the industry transit into the new mode.
When we started this new concept, this journey of moving towards the process for improvements last year, the response for the first six to 12 months was very slow. But we are really feeling that traction building up towards the last half of the previous year and continuing into last year, that people are very much interested in improving their processes and reducing their costs, because as the world becomes more globalised, or I would say, as the world shrinks, the only way to reduce your costs is to have strong processes, which will help you reduce your manufacturing costs on a continuous basis year in and year out. Those are the challenges that the industry is facing right now. And I think we are a very big catalyst to a lot of our customers, helping them in their journey towards automation—towards better quality, better processes, and cost reduction.
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR 2020?
AS: The market continues to be challenging, especially in Singapore and Malaysia for the semiconductor industry; though we are seeing some early green shoots coming in that indicates that the market might have bottomed out. If you look at Thailand, the automotive industry has been a little bit challenged, but our general feeling is that the worse may be over. I think we have seen the bottoming out of the worst phase of this industry, so we are hopeful that the end of the first quarter, things will be much better.
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