Next 5 years will be excellent for SMT market in India

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Suresh Nair, director, Leaptech Corporation

EB: What is the present condition of SMT market in India? How will it perform in the next 5 years?

After a dull season in the first six to eight months of 2009, the Indian SMT market is again growing to the levels of 2007-08. We are receiving enquiries from small, medium and large potential customers, while our existing customers are also in the process of augmenting their production capacity by adding more lines or machines. I believe the next 5 years will be excellent for the SMT market in India, which has started to grow in real terms. Industries like consumer electronics, electronics manufacturing services, automotive electronics, etc, are expected to drive this growth.

EB: What is the present market size of SMT in India?

Barring multinational companies who prefer their approved vendors, the SMT market size in India is approximately 25 to 30 complete lines (lines comprising printer/dispenser, one or more placement systems, reflow soldering system and board handling equipment). In terms of pick and place machines, it is about 40 to 50 machines per year.

Other peripheral equipment like line stencil printers, glue dispensers, reflow soldering machines, PCB handling equipment, automatic optical inspection systems, X-ray inspection systems, test equipment, conformal coating systems and wave soldering machines also account for a sizeable number of machines every year.

EB: What are the fast moving or emerging verticals for SMT machines in India?

Fast moving and emerging verticals are mainly high accuracy and multi-mounting capability placement systems which perform at low cost. At the lower end, machines having no added features have reasonably good demand.

EB: Among all the brands that you are representing, can you tell us which is the fastest moving brand in the Indian market and why?

We represent brands like I-PULSE and Okano from Japan; Speedprint and Z-Check from UK; Tangteck, Fonton and Solbot from Taiwan; and Kinetron from Singapore. I-PULSE (from Yamaha Motor Group) is the fastest moving product mainly due to earlier mentioned verticals or capabilities of the machines which suit Indian customers’ needs.

EB: Tell us about Leaptech’s exclusive support to customers?

The process support is our exclusive support to our customers. We not only sell machines but also support our customers until they get a high quality PCB assembly that meets their standards. Providing proper process support is very necessary for PCB assemblies, but many equipment suppliers neither understand its importance nor do they provide any such support.

EB: Tell us about your Unisert brand of machines. How are they received by the Indian customers?

Unisert is used in refurbishing through hole component auto insertion machines like axial component insertion machines, radial component insertion machines, jumper wire insertion machines, IC insertion machines, etc. In India, through hole components, which are the older technology version of electronic components, are still being widely used in most of the PCBs, especially in consumer electronic products, power products, lighting products, etc. Our machines are very well accepted in the market. Unisert has the highest installation base in the country in through hole segment. We enjoy more than 80 per cent market share in this segment and ours is the only refurbishing facility in the country for AI machines.

EB: What is your marketing strategy in India?

Our main marketing strategy is to reach out to all potential customers and personally explain them the solutions we offer, followed by aggressive pricing and unmatched service support. Special pricing and payment terms are also being offered from time to time as advised by our principals. For example, currently we are offering some of the models of I-PULSE at attractive prices for a limited period. Also, we have revised prices of printers by SPEEDPRINT, UK, from GBP 60,000 to GBP 35,000-40,000.

EB: What are your future plans?

We are in the process of increasing our manpower strength—both in sales as well as service division—to increase our market penetration and provide better support services. Our future plan is to start the manufacturing of wave and reflow soldering pallets. We have engaged Brusia Automation Pvt Ltd, a company based near Mumbai, to start the manufacturing of pallets within the next two months. These pallets will be offered as an effective alternative to selected soldering machines, especially where the volume requirement is high.

EB: What can the government do to enhance the SMT business in India?

The government is already offering duty free import of equipment for PCB assemblies. In addition, the government should encourage the local PCB assembly industry by restricting the import of finished goods and offering incentives for local manufacturing.

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