PN Vaidyalingam, Managing Director, Unitread Hydraulic Quick Couplings, talks about his products and how Unitread is making rapid progress in exports.

How has your experience been at Excon so far?
It’s been good. We had our old customers coming and meeting us and it’s a good platform to revive contacts, So many new customers has also reached us and shown interest in Unitread Quick Couplings.

What are the new products that you have launched?
We have launched about five to six new products for construction equipments like test point Diagnostic Couplings, TT Series – high pressure couplings up to 1,500 bars, HT Series – flat face screw to connect type for hydraulic trailer products. And they are equivalent or better to many of the European current suppliers in the country. And quality wise, it has already been approved by original manufacturers, users and end users. We have also developed Multicoupling and Flat Face Connect under pressure couplings. From 2020, we expect our products to grow and be at the right place at the right time with these products.

What would be the key factors for you as a manufacturer?
We are an SME outfit. And the key problems in the area is that the shocks that come with the market, immediate downfall or the slowness, it impacts us terribly because we (SMEs) don’t have higher reserves to fall back on. We are not a subcontractor or ancillary and are a product company. So, there is a lot of investment in continuous innovation which will pay result over a period of time and there is no quick result on that. So, investment in design, development and innovation is a big subject owing to the market dynamics and its so fast that we have to upgrade ourselves every time. This is a major area apart from operating business and there’s a lot of investment required in innovation design technology, which was not the case 10 years ago. In the last five years, Unitread has spent a substantial amount in reinventing itself. We are also exporting 30 per cent of our production to countries like Germany, Poland, UK, US, Middle East etc.; we have been getting a lot of inputs from them on what needs to be done according to customers and industry. We have also been participating in all the international fairs which are related to construction, farm equipments, and hydraulics. It’s not only Indian market that we have to focus but also we have to compete worldwide. The competition will be intense because the growth story is only going to take place in Asia and no growth story is going to take place in Europe or US. So, international companies will be coming to India and trying to take a good slice of domestic business through directly, joint venture or buying off Indian companies. In the current scenario, it’s better to reinvest in your own business and if you take away the money from the business then you will fall on the wayside.

How difficult is to compete with China and Europe as markets?
It is difficult to balance. For technology, we are taking a lot of assistance of people from Europe, who has domain expertise and tying up with them. We have also been regular visitors to China to see how they produce, what they produce and how efficient they are. At the end of the day, customer wants quality products and you have to provide that. Though, Chinese companies do not customise their products but India has a big advantage in that regard with engineering talent and we try to engineer the product to suit a particular requirement of a customer in Germany, France or UK. So, we give them free engineering support at no cost as customer gives us business.

What are your expectations from the industry in 2020?
At the moment, there is bit of a slowdown. Most of the companies should not depend on a single customer and many of the players in auto sector are directly connected with couple of major manufacturers. So any change in their fortune directly affects their function. Unitread is trying to create a balance of customers within the country and from 2006 onwards, Unitread is pushing on exports and our turnover is 70 per cent domestic and 30 percent is export. Even in the downturn, Unitread’s exports have grown which has balanced my total sale. At the beginning of year (2019), we were expected to grow by 15-20 percent but we have probably grown by five per cent. So, exports have compensated our domestic fall. I am very bullish about India for the next 50 years or so but work needs to be done. There are going to be tremendous opportunity be for the next generation in the field of business.

PN Vaidyalingam, Managing Director, United Tyrekrafts Pvt Ltd

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