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‘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