‘Make in India’

For those who don’t know, I work in the core mechanical industry as a mechanical engineer. The company deals with turbomachinery and my group is the R&D and new pump development for LNG. My teeny bit for the environment! Our line of pumps consists of around 15 new designs that will cover a wide range of flow rates and pressure rise as per the requirements. The services we are catering to are pretty big and related to railroad engines, transport, marines, bunkering, space exploration etc. These are majorly heavyweight applications all over the world which need a lot of safety enhancements and certifications. Especially since we also cater to the Liquid Oxygen, Argon and other inert gases. Again for those of you unaware, Liq. Oxygen will blow up everything in its vicinity if it comes in contact with any impurity. Yup. So these quality issues and certifications are very big deals.

We don’t really manufacture things on our shop floor. We design the components and give orders to vendors and machine shops who make those for us and we assemble all here. This includes the hydraulic components, the motors, shafts and all the random nuts and bolts needed. Since the time I have joined this pump business, I have learnt that we have certain favored vendors and certain almost black listed ones. I have heard, with my own ears, people saying, NOT to get parts from India or China because the quality is very questionable. As an Indian, I always felt bad about it. But as an engineer, I know there is some truth in it. 40% of the parts will show failure on testing and that is a huge number which eats up the profit like a termite. Aesthetically, Indian made parts leave a lot to be desired which our Indian vendors admit to as well. We have a machine shop in OC that makes all our hydraulics for the new pumps and they are literally like diamonds. It is a state of the art local shop with the latest 5-axis tools and machines and it is a pleasure to visit them and learn, every single time!

During my India trip, I went to visit 2 sister companies of ours based in Vadodara to see how they could help us out. One of them, let’s call them RE are developers of pressure vessels. We need tanks to mount our centrifugal pumps in and the current manufactures charges us $11k for each sump. So we were interested to know how our sister company can help us. Plus our current sump vendor is doing such a bad job that every sump has to be sent back first for corrections. Things like putting the right handed pipe on left side and such disasters. They showed their huge shop floors and their machining capabilities. They have made sumps(cylinders) 10 m in diameters and 20 m tall. They looked at our purchase orders and drew up such detailed drawings for questions that we were pretty awed! They explained to us what they can do and the costs. The next company we met was, let’s call them DS, and they already do some drafting work for the design engineers. We collected all their info and came back with whatever we needed.

Today we had our weekly team meeting. When my turn came, Dennis asked me to tell what I learned in that trip to Vadodara and he asked Rahul to cover the points too. We explained to them everything about what RE is doing, their big customers who also happen to be either our customers or another sister company. They have done really impressive work on the pressure vessels side. I very proudly showed them their detailed drawing and everyone was pretty stunned. Then, Dennis asked what the per sump cost will be. After hearing the amount, they literally fell off the chair! We will be done with production and shipping in max $4k!! That’s a friggin’ difference of 7k! Then came the question of using the drafting capabilities of DS. That’s when this all-Texan guy, piped in that if it were him, he wouldn’t send anything to them cuz of his few bad experiences. Basically Mikey is a pretty nice easygoing guy but he was just telling about his bad experiences. He mentioned that even with clear cut instructions, these guys have managed to screw up a lot and it was way more time and energy consuming than making the drawings himself. At this Dennis piped in and said these few things and these are his own words :

· We have two people in our room who studied their undergraduation in the same way as those guys and perhaps from the same universities and we know about their capabilities.

· The smartest engineers in the company come from India! (Woohoo!)

· Entire bloody Houston is run by Indian engineers, well, entire country is run by their engineering prowess.

· This young lady(me) brought back a Pumps India magazine and flipping through it makes me realize how innovative they are getting and with such advanced product line!

· Let’s face it that India is an emerging world leader and we will lose out if don’t take advantage of that.

· Big companies are making an exception for RE even if their clause states ‘NO India and China vendors’, so why not use our own sister company.

· Everybody needs a little hand in training and if the result will be good, then why not guide them.

Hearing Dennis say all these awesome things and seeing a blue blooded Canadian-American white guy standing up for us, made me want to get up with a flourish and kiss him on his li’l bald head!

So ladies and gentleman, I am proud to say that we have managed to get RE involved with our test sumps for now and very soon we will have them working on a huge order for us!

Yay for NaMo’s Make In INDIA!!

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Image by the official Make In India website

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25 thoughts on “‘Make in India’

  1. Well ..I differ. . Although we say Indians are doing so good in foreign shores etc etc the reason for that is ..The foreign shores..

    I am a Indian myself but I don’t have any shame in saying we do not have a good reputation which again is true.. as parts are often not right. . There are success stories yes..but need more ..
    Good to know about ur experience and what irks me the most is Mr. Modi taking all the claps it’s not him.. its the people who have worked hard to come to that standard. .

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    • I will not deny the help from the foreign shores. Specially since I have experienced it. But thoda credit toh apne ko bhi jata hai.
      I have heard countless times when people at work tell me that oh, we went to do commissioning in jamnagar or here n there, but the red tape…. The govt had previously made it infinitely hard to do business in India. Finally things are getting better regarding bureaucracy after 60 years.

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  2. What is a sump? Reminds of of a swamp, something deep down, dark. Make in India reminds me of Made in India which reminds me of Milind Soman getting out of a box with dhua everywhere.

    And i love ur boss! You want to trade him with mine?

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  3. Princess + butter = you? Such a yummy combination. Princess brings a positive image of girl in mind and then Butter? Lol Naughty Name.
    However, I am also a Mechanical Engg. and my relation with Hydraulics is daily.You make things, I run and repair them. DC valves, check valves and FCV. Sumps and all that. So it i understood every term of ur article comfortably. Nice article and your every point about MAKE IN INDIA is right.

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    • Hehehe. The person who coined this name seems to know me through n through! Haha
      Hello there fellow mechie. I have ultra respect for those who stick to the field. It is hard and doesn’t pay the big bucks like software. But it’s the original engineering. 👍

      Liked by 1 person

    • When I went for my student visa interview around 6 years back, I got told the same thing by the VO. “Wow, I hope more girls join your field.” There are girls, but we definitely are under-represented.

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      • Very cool. So, you obviously enjoy your work a lot. Did you always wanted to be working in this field? Have noticed that many core engineering students (both male and female) eventually end up in CS allied fields. You had a plan to work towards this particular domain, always?

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        • You are right! When I joined Mechanical, my plan was also to eventually end up in CS like anyone else. But then when I learned more, I liked it so much! When the question came about going for higher studies, I did not even want to do MBA because it would have diluted my domain. Although many people say I would have fit so well in HR or marketing given my communication skills. 🙂
          But I wanted to stick to this very narrow, ultra technical field. I find it, kinda, badass.
          It gives me a kick when people ask me what do I do and when they look stunned after I answer. 😀 “R&D hydraulic engineer for cryogenic pumps.” I love it!
          My eyes are on the ISRO cryogenic program for the future. I want to have my own ‘Swadesh’ moment.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! There were quite a few jargons that I didn’t follow in this article. But reading this post made me happy! 🙂 SO proud of you, Princess Butter! Totally badass 😉

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  5. One of the things that we Indian engineers are good at is adaptability. Right from our undergraduate days, adaptability is deeply ingrained in us. However there is a flip-side. Given the slightest leeway, we’ll try to find the easy way out. Which is not always a bad thing! Remember what Bill Gates said about appointing the laziest person? It is this very quality of ours which helps us to get the job done; any job, whatever be the barriers. We may not always play by the book, but we get it done nevertheless This is the basis of the now globally accepted ‘Jugaad Technology’.
    How does all this relate to the above post?
    Well, we have the capacity to manufacture world-class components, but we do not do so because we are not needed to… Our industries are capital-driven, not innovation-driven. And capitalists (generally) don’t care for quality. As long as it works, it is good to go. But when needed, we can indeed manufacture the highest quality components.
    During my college project I have interacted a lot with the Vasai and Umbergaon industrial areas, which are the hub of mechanical manufacturing regions near Mumbai, and I was amazed by the quality of work some industries produce. It was good to know that high-quality components confirming to global standards are being made so close to home…

    PS: Every technical term made perfect sense to me. And it is like natural comprehension to us. But reading the other comments made me realise that people do actually have trouble understanding our terminology. Wow! Makes us Mechies feel kinda special no? 🙂

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  6. Super! You must have felt so proud to hear your boss – and it’s a wonderful thing to have your boss appreciate your work and stand up for you. Best luck with your swades moment! I am sure it will be as sweet as that in the movie itself 🙂

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  7. Such insights into what you do. Loved reading it. I have always admired females who could question general norm and pick somethings that in general are more inclined towards men. Make in India is sure going to ring the bell. Yes, we have all the talent but my impression is that we do not have proper standards to make one accountable for, and the right infrastructure.

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