Director Mehala Machines India Limited
Which are your major markets in India? What markets do you plan to penetrate into in the near-future?
Our major markets are the surroundings of Tiruppur, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Ludhiana and Kolkata. In the near future, we see markets such as Hyderabad and Ahmedabad picking up, and we have plans to strengthen our presence there.
What are the current challenges faced by this industry? What can be done to resolve the issues?
The major challenges are the falling margins and rising costs. The apparel machinery industry is facing a huge price pressure from customers. The only way to manage it is to impress upon customers that machinery suppliers are an important stakeholder in their business chain, and their interests should not be compromised with. Unlike in the past where most customers chose lowcost Chinese machines, people are now changing their focus to choose the right supplier and the right machines.
Where do Indian apparel manufacturers stand when it comes to adopting robotics for automation?
Robotics for apparel manufacturing is in its nascent stages due to the loose nature of fabrics. Robots are suitable to handle materials that are hard. We have seen in recent times in news that there is a method to temporarily harden the fabric and make it suitable to be handled by robotic arms for sewing operation, and in the end the fabric will be soaked in water to reinstate the original loose nature. This seems to be a good beginning. But coming to your question of use of robotics by Indian manufacturers, quite a number of large manufacturers use robotic automations for loading, unloading and feeding operations.
We also have a good number of customers who use automations from Duerkopp Adler, PFAFF and Siruba. Now, even small and medium-scale manufacturers are considering investing in robotic or automatic machineries. In our case, we can see that we are receiving good responses from even small customers in the underwear segment who have invested in our Siruba range of automatic elastic ring making machines, which can fall into the category of automatic or semi-robotic machines. However, in the technical textiles segment where handling some composite materials may be injurious to humans or heavy in nature, the usage of robotics has caught up extensively.
Please share details of your last two fiscals, and your expectations for the next two.
We have shown year-on-year growth of 10 per cent in the last fiscal, when compared to the previous. But this fiscal year is more promising and we expect a much higher figure.
What are your near-future investment plans?
We are currently investing in expanding our pan-India presence with new branches that will be opened in the near future. Further, we are investing heavily to further strengthen our serviceability, in terms of trainings at principals' factories.
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