In an interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment Magazine (APMEN), Punit Gupta, Head of West Asia (India & SEA) at Blaser Swisslube, talks about the challenges and opportunities in the metalworking fluid market, a 20-year milestone project and his outlook for the metalworking fluid industry. Article by Stephen Las Marias.
Blaser Swisslube is one of the leading companies in the metalworking fluid sector. Founded in 1936, the independent and family owned Swiss company has since grown from a small business into a technologically leading global player, having a presence in 60 countries worldwide.
Out of total association of 15 years with Blaser Swisslube India, past 11 years, Punit Gupta has been the managing director of Blaser Swisslube in India. Starting January this year, he was given the responsibility to run the Southeast Asia market as well. In this interview with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment Magazine (APMEN), Mr. Gupta talks about the challenges and opportunities in the metalworking fluid market, a 20-year milestone project, and his outlook for the metalworking fluid industry.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE YOU SEEING IN INDIA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA, OR WEST ASIA, AS YOU CALL IT?
Punit Gupta (PG): As a whole, it is an interesting and developing market. The Indian market is largely dominated by the automotive industry with over 50 percent of the overall manufacturing share. However, interesting developments are also happening in aerospace and medical. More and more companies are setting up their manufacturing hub there—but I believe, looking into the future, automotive will still grow together with other sectors.
We hold a very good market share in India. In fact, we are the pioneer in providing technological solutions to our customers. We have around 2,000 customers—varying from small customers to very large automotive OES (original equipment suppliers)—and it gives me satisfaction that so many customers trust us and grow together with us.
When I look at Southeast Asia, I see very interesting markets. In Vietnam, there are a lot of investments happening in manufacturing from South Korea, Japan, and China. This country is growing rapidly. For the first Vietnamese car company, VinFast, we got a project. We have a couple of active business partners working here, who are very committed. Meanwhile, in the other Southeast Asia markets, like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, there is still a lot of potential.
Looking at the larger picture of West Asia, I would say there are a plethora of opportunities and we have a long way to go.
WHAT ABOUT THE CHALLENGES IN THE MARKET?
PG: If I talk from a customer point of view, the big challenge is competitiveness. In the aspect of globalisation, customers face competition from all across the globe. We now live in a Global village. And for that, they must prepare for a higher degree of competitiveness.
Today, manufacturers are constantly grappling with challenges of high productivity, uncompromising quality, cost-effectiveness and tighter deadlines to meet the ever-changing consumer demands.
The Liquid Tool from Blaser helps increasing the competitiveness of our customers. It brings transparency and a holistic view on overall returns on their investments. Productivity, economic efficiency and machining quality in the manufacturing process depend decisively on the choice of the right coolant. Hence, Blaser Swisslube endeavors to holistically analyse its customers’ processes to proffer them unique solutions for their challenges. This could mean reduced scrap rate or longer tool life and much more, based on the optimal coolant solution.
YOU’VE BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY FOR QUITE SOME TIME NOW. FROM A COOLANT STANDPOINT, HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE INDUSTRY CHANGED OVER THE PAST DECADE OR SO?
PG: One point is the importance of the human health and the environment. This means a contribution to a greener planet. We see in many countries still a lack of regulation or awareness. Chemicals which are classified as not safe for human health and environment in Europe, are still in use in other markets. We from Blaser offer formulations, which do not harm the human health or the environment. This is one of our credos since 1936.
Second, customers have started to look at coolants as a valuable item. Around 15 years ago, customers had an opposite attitude towards coolants. Today, it has changed a lot. Their expectations are also changing. They are expecting benefit in terms of productivity and competitiveness.
So, overall awareness is increasing, and the market is maturing. And I foresee that in the next five to 10 years, this is one of the big jobs that we at Blaser Swisslube have to do: educate the customers more and more and contribute as a technology leader.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE MILESTONE THAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED RECENTLY.
PG: We have a unique technology, which we call Blasocut Bioconcept. The uniqueness of this technology is that the coolants are free from bactericide—they are one of the safest coolants in the world.
There have been many products based on the Blasocut Bioconcept. In India, we have one central system that has completed 20 years of sump life without a change. One of my colleagues from Switzerland travelled in 1998 to fill up this central system. At that time, Blaser India wasn’t even born.
The technology from our side plus the care from the customer’s side resulted in a system that is running for 20 years without a need to change the coolant in the central system. And this has been a big milestone for the company—Tata Motors—a very well-known company in car manufacturing.
WHAT’S THE IMPORTANCE OF THAT MILESTONE?
PG: There are many interesting facts to this achievement. One is the stability of the process. Second, if you look at the contribution in terms of the environment— there is the coolant disposal load, which we have been able to avoid. Furthermore, as we don’t use bactericide, we avoided the use of tons of bactericides for the whole manufacturing. Overall the contribution of the last 20 years to the greener planet is priceless.
WHAT OTHER INNOVATIONS HAS THE COMPANY DONE WHEN IT COMES TO COOLANTS?
PG: I would say Blaser is known for bringing out a lot of latest technologies and innovations in the market. This year, we have launched a unique and interesting formulation in water-miscible coolant, Synergy 735. This is a fully synthetic coolant—the first in the market—that has a neutral pH and it can work very nicely on aluminum as well as titanium alloys.
The coolant is very friendly on the skin and shows a very high performance. Plus, zero foam. Even at 70- to 80-bar pressure the coolant stays stable. We launched Synergy 735 in the US, then Europe, and now in Asia. Titan Gilroy, TITANS of CNC, is a huge fan of Synergy 735. According to his statement, it’s the best coolant he has ever used.
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY?
PG: The current economic situation in the manufacturing industry, especially in India and Southeast Asia, is challenging. For instance, production levels are down in India’s automotive segment for over the past five to six months now. In Southeast Asia, we see challenges towards semiconductor and HDD manufacturing. But these are temporary issues. Therefore, I am positive. The market will bounce back. So, in terms of the overall growth, the opportunities in the markets, as well as our business in this whole region looks optimistic in my eyes. Our Liquid Tool is the absolute right fit for these markets and allows our customers to exploit more and more from their machines.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR BLASER SWISSLUBE?
PG: Well, working with more and more customers! We have to make our customers happy by improving their productivity and if they are happy, then we are happy too.
20 Years of Sump Life – And Still Going Strong!
Tata Motors is a market leader and pioneer in making commercial vehicles in India. In 1998, the company decided to enter the passenger car market with its Indica car. For their car production, Tata was investing in high-performance technology for aluminium machining for its plant in Pune. Among their main requirements were a high-performance material removal with a very good coolant system. After thorough research, Tata decided to start a partnership with Blaser Swisslube. This defined the beginning of Blaser Swisslube in India, followed by the founding of a subsidiary, Blaser Swisslube India, in 2001.
At the beginning of this partnership, Hans Niederhaueser (now retired sales manager) from Blaser Swisslube Switzerland came to India to personally fill the central system. “I still remember how it all started. I flew to India in May 1998 to fill the central system with 80,000 litres of our Blasocut 4000 Strong. I am very happy to see that the emulsion is still stable and running smoothly for 20 years now. By avoiding a huge quantity of coolant disposal from the last 20 years, the contribution to the greener planet is priceless,” says Niederhaueser.
The Blasocut Bio-Concept for a Greener Planet
Blasocut 4000 Strong is a coolant out of the Blasocut line. Featuring excellent human and environmental compatibility, the Blasocut technology has been able to contribute to the robust process of machining, providing high productivity and better machining quality.
In today’s manufacturing world, it has become a global requirement for all manufacturing industries to contribute towards a greener planet. There is a high level of awareness about the ill effects brought in by many factors of industrialisation. Sustainable technologies like the Blaser Swisslube Bio-Concept work in perfect harmony with nature. With the Blasocut Bio-Concept, emulsions need no tank side addition of bactericides. They stay inherently biologically stable and have a unique way of maintaining the long-term bio-stability of metalworking fluid emulsions.
The Bio-Concept uses an age-old law of nature whereby bacteria normally colonise aqueous media immediately. To keep the emulsions stable, deliberately foster this by creating ideal conditions for harmless primary bacteria, which are also present in drinking water, to build up a naturally stable biotope, where undesirable bacteria have no chance of propagating.
“At Tata Motors in Pune, the emulsion Blasocut 4000 Strong is still running great. Our specialists are checking and monitoring the emulsion on a regular basis to control the vital parameters like pH, emulsion concentration and many more. We offer each customer a tailored monitoring plan for their central systems. Customers like Tata not only want a cutting fluid, but also are looking for a competent and dependable partner to help organise and optimise their machine processes. With our committed team, we provide this partnership. The collaboration of 20 years is a result of trust and strong commitment from both sides, to deliver the best to the industry, environment and safety,” says Punit Gupta, Managing Director of Blaser Swisslube India and Southeast Asia.
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