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Interview with Siddhant Sinha

Industry Speak
Siddhant Sinha
Siddhant Sinha
General Manager
Inditech International Limited
Inditech International Limited

Biggest issue we are facing is logistics part

Set up by Pradeep Sinha, a graduate engineer from Manipal Institute of Technology, Inditech International has over 25 years of experience in the textile field and a comprehensive network of contacts in India and abroad. Inditech now represents more than 20 of the top-most international brands in the textile machinery and technology field. In an interview with Fibre2fashion, Siddhant Sinha, General Manager, Inditech International, spoke about the issues the machinery industry is facing post lockdown due to the COVID-19 situation.

The current COVID-19 crisis has brought the entire textiles-apparel production, supply chain, and retail sales to a grinding halt. How do you see this impacting textile machinery manufacturers and suppliers? How is your supply chain being hit? Are you facing cancellation of orders?

The lockdown has affected several areas of business. Specifically for us the most impacted areas are banking and shipping/logistics. We have not faced cancellation of orders but there is a delay in placing orders due to banks working at 50 per cent strength. Thus processing payments from customers is taking much longer time. Since we work mostly with Letter of Credits, the delay means a delay in delivery and orders piling up.

In terms of logistics, we represent some of the leading machinery manufacturers from Japan, Europe and US. Some countries are only partially locked down and so we are still able to supply or ship goods from them. But as India is completely locked down, it is difficult to receive these goods as the Indian shipping counterparts have yet not started to function. Also, port authorities in India have a huge backlog which is not getting cleared, further creating issues in receipt of shipments.

The third problem we are facing is that even if the above is taken care of, foreign technical experts and engineers cannot travel to India right now as country to country movement is not allowed. Thus installation and other services will have to wait till the lockdown gets over. We have circumvented this to the best of our abilities by having coordinated video conferences and training exercises with our engineers and personnel in India and guiding our customers all the way.

Thus the biggest issue we are facing today is the logistics part which cannot be overcome by the use of technology. Even though we are not facing cancellations in orders, it is taking more effort and time to process the same.

Post lockdown, what are the problems you foresee and how do you plan to help your clients with respect to after-sales service and spare parts?

Post lockdown we foresee that a lot of orders and deliveries will pile up, which will lead to an increased lead time to process. Adding to that is the capacity of ports in India and around the world. They will be filled with containers which have not yet been picked up. There will be huge volumes of incoming cargo from all kinds of industries and countries. This could lead to chaos in terms of shipping and freight availabilities and prices.

Another issue we foresee is a lack of availability of workers and labourers. Most workers have gone back to their home states and once the lockdown ends, more workers will try to leave and go back to their home states. We foresee a shortage of labour availability for around 2-3 months after the lockdown is lifted. This is something our customers will have to face and we will have to be ready to support them with our team of experts and engineers.

We sell some of the best machinery in the world and thus maintenance is very low. Even then we took plenty of precautions before the lockdown was imposed so that our customers get least affected. We took preventive measures such as guiding our customers on how to shut down machinery and maintain them for the duration of the lockdown. These safety protocols will ensure that the machine is maintained well and its performance is not impacted due to an extended shut down period. Our engineers are constantly in touch with their counterparts at our customers place to ensure they are completely ready to restart operations.

Furthermore, we always store critical spare parts at our facilities across India to ensure that our customers do not face stoppage in emergencies. For now, we can support our customers and ensure they do not face a situation where their machinery or production is affected. 

Secondly, we took preventive measures. We analysed the most important and most used spare parts for each of our customers taking into consideration the lead times to supply these critical parts. We did a massive study across our customer base to ensure that they have enough stock of these parts. With excellent support from our customers’ side, we are able to predict which parts will be needed during contingencies so that we can supply them at a short notice.

Post lockdown, our team is ready to support the service needs of our customers in case they face shortage of labour, by training their workers with industry wide best practices.

What do you think the government can do to further ease pain of textile machinery manufacturing companies? Any thoughts on rallying together as a key niche of the value chain to arrive at some workable plan to get through these difficult times?

We think the central government has done an excellent job in terms of the timely lockdown. The situation could have gotten much worse and kept our country shut down for much longer time, if the lockdown was not done in a timely manner. Keeping in mind this lockdown is necessary, there are certain areas where the government should concentrate to smoothen the reopening and continuation of business and industry.

The main goal should be to help our customers which in turn will help machinery manufacturers.

Interest rates for project sanctions should be eased to accommodate the lack of revenue during the lockdown period for our customers. This will help spur the economy and set up new projects instead of slowing the investment rate into textile infrastructure across the country.

Small to Medium enterprises (MSMEs) will be the most affected by the lockdown. Efforts in terms of subsidies or financial support to such companies should be increased to help them cope in this difficult time.

Demand for exports from India will increase as more and more countries will look at India instead of China for their textile needs. We are already seeing this in Vietnam. Policies should be kept in place to help Indian manufacturers fully take advantage of this. This is a big opportunity for our industry in these trying times. And we must come together to take advantage of this.

Lastly, the load of Indian ports need to be considered. The government has taken certain steps to reduce lead time on processing of cargo like e-documents being used to clear shipments instead of original documents. This is a great help. Also increasing manpower at ports once the lockdown is lifted, will greatly reduce the time taken to process existing cargo and speed up the import/export of new cargo.

If the above happens as planned, there will be a greater demand for machinery from our principals which will help them to overcome the uncertainties posed by the pandemic. Our principals and we are fully ready to support the Indian textile industry and help our customers take full advantage of the opportunities that the Covid pandemic has created. (PC)
Published on: 01/05/2020

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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