‘BFW’s strength lies in building big machines’

Anil Urs | | Updated on: Apr 01, 2019
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While most machine-tool makers are content expanding capacities of their plants as part of their growth strategy, there are only a few who focus on building machines and setting up smart factories. Bharat Fritz Werner (BFW) and is MD and CEO, Ravi Raghavan, belong to the latter tribe. In an interview with BusinessLine , Raghvan shared his company’s blueprint for growth and the future of the sector.

What are the strengths of BFW in the machine-tools sector?

Engineering and people. We have brought innovative products to India, and at the same time, have provided engineering solutions.

To do this, you have to really understand the needs of the customer and give him a good solution.

What are the future plans of BFW?

We are doing a lot of lean activity. We are creating extra space in our existing facility to generate about 50 per cent of extra capacity in-house. This activity has helped us delay expansion. Now, the expansion we are looking for is in the assembly.

We want our factory in Peenya attain full capacity by 2019, but beyond that, we will need to add capacity in other locations for assembly.

Which are the sectors that are driving business for BFW?

The company has benefited immensely from the auto sector which is witnessing several changes such as the switch to BS-VI emission norms. This is helping us to grow.

Second, there has been a huge increase in the volumes of construction-equipment-heavy vehicles, which is correlated to infrastructure development in the country.

Building big machines has been our strength.

How has the company fared post demonetisation and the rollout of GST?

There has been a positive impact. We did not witness any slowdown even in the month of demonetisation, though we were a bit anxious about its outcome.

With regard to GST, there have been some benefits as far as capital growth is concerned. The cash cycle has improved considerably too.

But, at the same time, almost every sector has faced shortage of skilled manpower...

It is true that there has been a shortage of skilled manpower. To address this issue, we have started de-skilling a lot of our processes. We have started building new platforms which has helped us to focus on common machinery and standardisation.

We have also focussed on skill development. We train several youngsters. Digitisation has helped us to speed up our training process.

What has been the R&D spend of BFW?

We concentrate a lot on R&D. We set up the Dr. Kalam Centre, where there are about 40 people working on various projects. The investment till now is about 1 per cent of our revenue. Our plan is to take it to closer to 2 per cent.

We have built a product called ‘IRIS by BFW’, which offers real-time monitoring of machine-shop floor performance. The whole idea here is to make the customer fully equipped with the information about his machine.

What is the outlook for the machine-tools sector?

The last two years were excellent for the industry. The growth has been very steep, but the supply chain has not been able to cope up.

For us, during the first half, there has been a 50 per cent growth in both sales and orders. And, the good thing is that it has come from across the industry.

Published on April 01, 2019

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