By: Divya Sudarsanan
In 2018, a WhatsApp group for Indian gear manufacturers was born. What started out as a 25-member group has now grown to around 130 members. The genesis of this group came to be when Prakash Kadam, MD, Pragati Transmissions, a passionate gear head, found that there was a disconnect between the Indian and global gear manufacturing market. He said, “We are following others. We haven’t made a footprint yet.” As India is a vast country with a pool of resources at hand, Kadam realized that this was a ripe opportunity to gather industry figures from across the gear manufacturing board. “With India being such a large country and we have different levels of expertise in the industry, I figured why don’t we explore. There were informal connections, so the first step was to connect formally.”
Together with his industry colleague, Mr. Gawande, and their respective contacts that they had accumulated over their years of experience, the Indian Gear Manufacturers Association was created on WhatsApp. “At first, various members would post about the surplus tools, or second-hand dealers would send information and so on. It became a sort of B2B. Then it became like a small exchange platform where people would share their thoughts, or pose a technical query and it would get answered.” The next step that Kadam has in mind is for the members to meet in person. “We have not met formally, yet. We are thinking of doing a formal meeting of the members but we haven’t set a date as of now. People in the group talk about individual challenges and problems. As we haven’t made an association formally, the WhatsApp group serves as a forum for members to discuss their concerns,” he said.
Having been part of the industry, and so closely connected, Kadam has seen the gear industry undergo a sea of change. “I have seen the gear industry go through a transformation in terms of technology, trends, and the ups and downs of the industry,” he noted.
The Indian gear manufacturing industry is heavily dependent on machine tools, cutting tools and technology from the Western world. He said, “Basic gear technology in India is not a limiting factor. We have absorption technology which is limited by the guidelines which they give. We haven’t made it indigenous. It is better to Indianize it. For that we must have a platform.”
One of Kadam’s concerns is that India does not have its own gear-based standards. “We have DIN, which has no base. It is a copy of other standards, and we follow that. Though standards were developed ages ago, they are all generic standards. There is no customization for different industries. Now, in Europe it’s being done. Industry based standards should be made available. It cannot be generic. People say DIN 7 class; it is very generic. In the competitive world, we have to see what is exactly required for this.” Kadam’s preference for gear standards is Japan. He added, “That way I respect JIS. JIS is very practical as what is required by the industry, it is defined by the industry, whereas DIN, AGMA are more generic and have customized it for the specific industries. So, as a result, it is sometimes not economical to produce the gears in that standard as it is demanded and it is not required also. On that basis I thought why not have a thought process to go in line with that.”
He candidly admits that he is unsure if an Indian standard of gear manufacturing can be implemented successfully but is willing to give it a try. He stated that the gear manufacturing machines are imported and India is highly dependent on them. “Our contribution to the gear industry is not more than 5%, barring gear hobbing machines. In that also 30-40% is import content. The world is using India for its requirements, they sell the machines and use the cheap workforce.”
Kadam would like to see the Indian gear industry to be united as this is not the case at the moment. He concludes, “The first step is to get all the industries under one umbrella. We should have an ideology that benefits both the people and the industry.”