Leveraging IT for manufacturing excellence

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on March 10, 2018

Vaidee Sampathkumar

MESTECH puts in place processes, mainly for the automotive and life-sciences industries

He was in Rockwell Automation, in charge of implementing the US company’s manufacturing execution software in leading automobile companies in India. Orders were increasing and Vaidee Sampathkumar felt he could do with a few more hands. He confronted his boss one day and asked for additional staff. His boss stumped him with his reply: the work he was doing was ideally suited for a medium-scale company; why not start something on his own, he asked, assuring him of assignments from Rockwell.

That was in 2010. Vaidee took his boss’ advice, quit Rockwell and teamed up with Yatin Sankholkar, a colleague who had also quit the company, to start MESTECH Services. The two were joined by Anand Datey. The founding team includes Sujata Bogawat and Ramayya Kumar, both minority shareholders. While Vaidee handled the automotive business in Rockwell, Yatin came from the life-sciences side.

Identifying bottlenecks

Given their expertise, MESTECH focuses on the automotive and life-sciences industries, providing technology consulting and software implementation to manage manufacturing operations. A majority of MESTECH’s clients are in the automotive business, including Indian subsidiaries of multinational vehicle manufacturers.

An alumnus of BITS Pilani, Vaidee, 41, joined Thermax after graduation. He says he was attracted to the manufacturing sector and thought it was a more macho thing to do then, when most other engineers were drifting to the IT industry.

A two-year stint with Thermax was followed by a Master’s in industrial engineering from the US. Vaidee has an interesting story on how he got the job at Thermax. His grades were not top-notch, he confesses. At BITS he was interested in a whole lot of extra-curricular activities, including singing, and used to organise music shows on campus.

“The Thermax guys saw my grades and fell off the chair,” he recalls. He told them he had passed his exams and come to this point in the interview. And, whatever assignment he had been given, he had handled it well.

“So, if you motivate me and focus me on an area, you will get good results,” he told the panel. For instance, he told them, he could sing Hindi songs and had learnt enough of the language to keep the audience dancing to his tunes. One of the panellists asked him to sing a song. He did. “I got my job then and there,” says Vaidee, while other interviewees, who had got good grades in college, had to wait a couple of days to know if they would land the job or not.

If his stint in Thermax got him hooked on to the manufacturing sector, his internship as part of his Master’s at the State University of New York, Binghamton, gave him a good insight into the automotive industry. His internship was at General Motors where he worked on using IT systems to identify bottlenecks in the plant and how to achieve continuous improvement.

After working in the US for a few years, Vaidee returned to India in 2003-04, mainly because there was not much investment going into the manufacturing sector in the US. He joined Rockwell Automation in Pune after helping a US based company set up a development centre in India.

Learn local, apply global

With MESTECH, Vaidee and his co-founders hope to do all that they had learned and implemented while at Rockwell: help companies improve their manufacturing process using information technology. They are the delivery partners for Rockwell’s manufacturing execution software and also pitch for business on their own. Ultimately, Vaidee says, they hope to “learn local and apply global.”

MESTECH has 90 employees now with revenues of about ₹12 crore. Pune-based MESTECH counts among its clients leading automotive and pharmaceutical companies, with nearly 70 per cent of the business coming from the former.

Vaidee hopes the life-sciences business will grow substantially in the next three years. “The idea is to try and create that manufacturing excellence in India,” adds Vaidee.

Published on January 12, 2015

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