India is growing fast and with more and more industries adopting automation, the demand for moving parts is set to rise exponentially. With its core capabilities motion plastics, Igus will drive Indian industry across most segments and is slated for phenomenal growth. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Santhosh Jacob, Country Manager and Director, Igus India, talks of his company’s “Improve What Moves” maxim, emerging trends and future prospects.

India is growing fast and with more and more industries adopting automation, the demand for moving parts is set to rise exponentially. With its core capabilities motion plastics, Igus will drive Indian industry across most segments and is slated for phenomenal growth. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Santhosh Jacob, Country Manager and Director, Igus India, talks of his company’s “Improve What Moves” maxim, emerging trends and future prospects.

How do you see the growth of Igus in India since its entry into the country about 20 years ago? What have been the key milestones during this journey?

Igus has been continuously returning double digit growth from the year 2000, except for the crisis years where the industry suffered at large. While it took Igus 12 years to reach sales of Rs 60 crore, this year alone we achieved a growth of Rs 60 crore.  It has been our mission since inception to be a part of every machine, small or large, from simple applications to complex. Today we are proud to say that Igus products improve motion in all industry sectors — be it life saving equipments, space or defense. We are proud to state that more than 50% of the port equipment comprise Igus Energy Chain Systems. We supply more than 1 million parts every month only to the automotive industry. More than 13,000 ready chains power the movements of indoor cranes. The list goes on…but nevertheless, we believe this is just the beginning.

Can you please brief us about your business operations in India?  

Igus has a set of motion plastic products that can improve anything with relative motion. Our main range of products are Energy Chain systems and Drytech Bearings. Energy chain systems and special dynamic duty cables are the umbilical cord of machines that require energy managed in motion. The Drytech range of products are lubrication-free bearings and linear guides that are used in automotive, packaging and many other machines. Igus services around 16,000 customers in India alone. In order to be price-effective in India, Igus has been at the forefront of localisation. Currently almost all parts, except the performance polymer parts which are moulded in Germany, are made in India, adhering to strict quality management protocols equivalent to global standards. With the fantastic support and growth we see in India, we believe we will soon achieve the threshold to set up local moulding operations which would be a significant milestone in our continual service offering to Indian industry.

What are the benefits of using Igus products & solutions for the Indian manufacturers?

Igus motion plastics are completely lubrication-free, lightweight, modular and offer the best cost-to- life solutions.  What makes Igus products very special and distinct from other conventional competing solutions, is the fact that every Igus component or assembly comes with an online life calculator based on real test data. On an average we conduct around 15,000 tests in a year — since early 1980’s — to build this database. Based on these reliable figures, we are the only company in the world that offers a 36-month guarantee on-line, based on the application parameters.

How is the demand from the Indian automotive and auto component industry? Which other industries are contributing significantly to Igus growth in India?

The demand for, and also the penetration of, Igus products in the Indian automotive industry has been increasing. With the increasing growth and improvement in the automotive industry we hope this will increase further. The other industries where we see very fast growth in India are packaging, medical, and automation. On the other hand, as machines become faster and productivity in manufacturing is the key to growth, our ready-chain business is also growing fast and is expected to drive our growth in the coming years.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) contribute majorly to the Indian manufacturing sector. How is Igus supporting the growth of SMEs – a highly cost-conscious segment?

Igus has always been cost conscious, and we work with basic motto of “cheapest solution that works is the best solution”, and we are able to offer the best “price-to-life ratio”. With this approach we are able to cater to all the SMEs. We now also have an LCA (Low Cost Automation) product range where we help our customers to automate their applications with Igus products, and we will simulate them in our facility without any costs to end users. This will further help SMEs to stay more lean and productive. 

In India (& globally), additive manufacturing (3D printing) is viewed as an upcoming technology in the manufacturing sector. Is Igus looking to tap the 3D printing sector in India? If yes, could you please elaborate?

Igus has been always looking at improving what moves, and we also apply the same idea to “3D printing”. Igus has a range of filament products that can be used in 3D – FDM process, and this offers 6 to 20 times better wear rate compared to the standard ABS or other PA material which is used. We have another range of special materials for SLS printing, and we also offer customers printed parts both by FDM and SLS printing. Our SLS printed parts — both gears and bearings — offer a very similar service life, like the moulded Igus bush/gear. This offers customer a lot of opportunity for small scale production, beyond the opportunity of sampling and proof of concept. 

Moreover, Igus also makes 3D printed tools where the customer sends us a part’s drawing in 3D from which we make the tool. We can mould nearly 16 Igus materials and give actual moulded products to customer for trials. All these services are online and the customer can upload a 3D drawing, check manufacturing possibility, place an order and get a delivery within 5 to 10 days.

Sustainability and digitalisation (including Industry 4.0) are the buzzwords in the industry. How is Igus adapting these two trends within its company? Also, how is Igus helping its customers to walk on the path of sustainability and digitalisation?

A lot of Igus products are already Industry 4.0 enabled. Energy chain systems, cables, some bearing products, 3D printed bushes with sensors are able to communicate about service life and possible failure times, to customers.

Sustainability is a very key part at Igus, we strongly believe we have to leave this world better than what we got. There are a lot of activities like moving ourselves to more renewable energy worldwide and we look forward to becoming a carbon-neutral company by 2025. In addition, we are investing into a company which will convert plastic to oil, and this will allow mixed polymer waste to be recycled quickly. This year Igus has also launched a program to collect any-make polymer drag chains which customers would like to dispose. We take this material, recycle it responsibly and ensure it does not land in landfills.

Which emerging trends could play a key role in shaping the future of manufacturing? 

We look forward to quite a few interesting changes for the automotive industry — moving more towards mobility and electrification. We also look forward to changes in 3D printing including metal, and other new methods being developed and more personalised products taking over regular mass production that the world was seeing so far. With all this, we also expect that the number of moving parts inside any system in future, will increase thus triggering further growth for Igus. 

Igus is planning to set up an injection moulding facility in India. Could you please elaborate more on this? 

The new injection moulding facility planned for Igus India will be mostly focused on producing some of the most-used energy chain systems and parts for the Indian market. These have already achieved a critical volume to be economical in production and quality management from a local perspective. This is mainly to gear ourselves better to cater to the demand and logistics situation for India and also to spread global production locations. 

Igus in India is reportedly targeting to double its revenue to Rs 300 crore in the next 3 to 4 years. How do you plan to achieve it?

India is growing fast and we see opportunity coming from all segments. Automotives will continue to spearhead the growth, however we also expect improvements and automation in agriculture and packaging which will develop to create more opportunities for Igus. COVID, on the other hand, has made it clear that leanness and productivity in manufacturing aids growth and here we see huge opportunities for our ready chains and harnessed solutions. 

In order to support this growth Igus will continue to invest in regional Sales Engineers who will form a part of every design and development team in Indian manufacturing to “Improve What Moves” with Igus Motion Plastics!

Would you like to give any message to the industry?

We hear in global circles about China Plus One policy that is being promulgated by many. Indian engineering is known for its frugal and effective designs. This ingenuity, along with global exposure, should help us capitalise on this opportunity and drive the Indian industry to attain global glory. And, as always, we are here to “Improve what Moves”.

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