Emerging Entrepreneurs

With designs on strength engineering

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla | Updated on March 10, 2018 Published on April 17, 2017

Viraj Kalyani, Founder and Chairman, Kalyani Studio

Kalyani Studio helps industries in designing high strength components

Viraj Kalyani, Executive Director, Kalyani Forge, could have teamed up with his uncle Baba Kalyani, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Forge, in the family business but for the urge to do something different. In particular, he was keen to start a company from scratch and build it to up.

That is what he plans to do with his new venture, Kalyani Studio, which is into high strength engineering and design of products, that he kicked off recently. “I have always been passionate about strength engineering, a new category of engineering that we are developing. The inspiration came from customer insights and umpteen discussions that we had with various OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) who have been asking for product design inputs for high strength components,” says Viraj.

He decided to concentrate on product design and infuse creativity and design into high strength engineering and start building new expertise.

At Kalyani Studio, Viraj decided to tinker with the physical properties of products.

“We look at the strength to weight ratio, at torque, at how products have the ability to withstand high forces and harsh conditions. We make a product more strength-efficient, which in turn saves on costs and ensures better performance and a longer life,” says 27-year-old Viraj.

A major transformation

With a dual degree from the University of Pennsylvania – Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science – Viraj undertook a major transformation of the business at Kalyani Forge on his return in 2012.

“Most companies want original design inputs and have been seeking it for some time. Realising the gap in terms of suppliers, and since most of the high-end engineering work is done in the headquarters of OEMs in Europe, we decided to focus on local innovation and bring it closer to the market,” says Viraj, who will invest his personal capital in the new venture.

“I was keen on putting a new perspective to things. It is an entirely new paradigm, an analysis to the same products and applications,” he says. The aim was to unlock the physical strength of products through better design and engineering to improve performance.

High strength products are mostly under-the-hood applications that can withstand challenging conditions such as forces, motion, temperature and time. “Take a transmission system in a car. One may have to optimise for weight reduction, improve the fatigue strength so that there is less breakdown, avoid wear and tear. One can change the design of the transmission components to facilitate this, though it requires one to think out of the box,” he says And that is where creativity comes into play. “Existing designs are taken for granted. We decided to take ideas from different industries and cross pollinate,” says Viraj.

Taking inspiration from aircraft components, “since they have much higher tolerance level and functionality”, Kalyani Studio will use “some of the ideas that exist and extrapolate in a situation where conditions are similar.”

“A studio is a place where an artist creates his work. It sits in perfectly with what we are trying to do, a blend of engineering and design, art and science. It requires both the left and right brain,” says Viraj.

Focus areas

As to which sectors the new company would concentrate on, Viraj pointed out that in the aerospace industry, “we are experimenting and doing concepts around fluid dynamics of aircraft wings, as well as around aircraft landing gear, which takes the load of the entire plane and is a critical component.”

Kalyani Studio is “looking at outer space applications as well. Currently, there is a good amount of activity around UAVs, which have commercial applications. There is lot of start-up activity in this (drone) area. We will help our clients innovate on design.”

The company will deal with OEMs in railways, automotive, construction equipment and agriculture. “The traditional sector is looking at agricultural technology and that is where we will focus with new processing equipment. A lot of automation is happening on farmlands, and it is more than just tractors,” he said.

Kalyani Studio aims to create new high-tech jobs in India. “We need to involve a good blend of creativity and analytical prowess in everything we do. We must harness people who use both sides of their brain. Though there is a lot of analysis work on software, it has to marry with creative work design and thinking. I am looking to create a culture of creativity and freedom, to allow people to come up with new ideas and experiments and balance it with customer requirements and expectations.”

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Published on April 17, 2017
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