SMT printer market to be strong by 2010

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Although, at present, India is still nursing the financial inflictions of recession, it is still one of the fastest growing markets across the globe. Within the next one year, most players are expecting the SMT printers market to become a strong segment of the SMT industry. The market for SMT printers wit­nessed declivity in the year 2008. This happened primarily due the fact that most medium enterprises are unable to afford high-end printers and there is not much availability of low-end printers. Semi-automatic or automatic printers are priced so high that it becomes quite impossible for most small and medium enterprises to afford them. L Sampath, CEO, EMST Marketing Pvt Ltd, cites an­other reason for the dip experienced by the SMT printers market, “The biggest disadvantage in India is low volumes, with too many players. This doesn’t al­low the possibility of local manufacture. Also, customers’ confidence in local products is still very low, leading to slow sale realisation.”

By Atanu Kumar Das

Tuesday, June 16, 2009: Slow but steady

Despite these drawbacks, SMT printer market is expected to grow because compared to the US and European na­tions, Indian electronics industry has still been growing steadily due to the recent attention global players have been showering on Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC nations).

Parvindar Singh, managing director, ASYS Group, opines that although there is considerable potential in the Indian market, one still has to comprehend that the process of growth is gradual and price sensitivity makes India a very hard market to compete in.

“India, with a population of over 1 billion, will have a significant demand for consumer and industrial electronic goods, most of which will be produced indigenously. Therefore, India is a promising market for SMT firms. Hav­ing said that, it is a slow market as too many firms are still not prepared to pay a fair price for quality SMT equipment,” says Singh.

On the other hand, DEK India be­ lieves that if an enterprise can manage to market its products adequately, then India is the place to be in.

According to Khoon-Heng Lim, sales manager, DEK, “The potential for firms in the SMT market in India is enormous. This is partially due to the domestic demand for electronics, fuelled by a population that is con­stantly expanding and by regions of the country that are becoming increasingly prosperous. Disadvantages include infrastructural concerns but at DEK, we’ve already secured our support infrastructure across the subcontinent and beyond.”

What is an SMT printer?

The surface mount technology (SMT) printer is designed to provide the accuracy needed for applying solder paste to printed circuit boards for SMT production. Printing accuracy, speed and cost of ownership are the main challenges facing the screen printing market today.

In India, many customers are leaning towards the “smallest, fastest and cheapest” business model and also demand a platform which can address the matter of cost of owner­ship. Hence, manufacturers are now working out options to provide the best possible products at affordable prices.

Recovery from recession

Some players feel that it will take anoth­er one year before the SMT market starts recovering from recessionary effects, whereas others are more optimistic and feel that by the beginning of 2010, there will be a consequential amount of progress in the SMT arena. “The SMT market outside India has been tremendously injured by reces­sion. In India, too, we have had only a small number of business inquiries since October 2008. The period of time the market will take to recuperate really depends on the global market situation but there is a likelihood that by the end of Q2 2010, we might see light,” adds Singh.

According to Suresh Nair, vice-president, Leaptech Corporation, “The Indian market looks extremely positive in the long-term, not considering the short-term slowdown currently being faced by the SMT industry. Overall, there is a slowdown in the market and this has affected printer sales as well but I am hopeful that we will be kick­ing and running by the beginning of the next fiscal.”

For multinational players like DEK though, 2008 has been reasonably good due to their setting up operations in India and being in close proximity with their customers. The company believes that though there has been a lull in the Indian market due to recession, it is only a minor scrape compared to the economic lethargy being observed in other nations.

“Recession has definitely impacted the Indian market but it has not made as great a dent in India as it has in other regions. This is because the do­mestic market in India has remained strong and sustainable, providing manufacturing bases a sector to serve. The most adversely affected companies are those that are involved in export. As for when recovery will take place, that’s almost impossible to predict—even the world’s top financial analysts won’t commit to a recovery timescale but what is more interesting is that I believe India will be the first country to recover from the economic crisis,” adds Lim.

Hurdles to cross

Although the future appears favourable for SMT players in India, one needs to address the various challenges that are being faced by them. One of the hurdles that EMST Marketing mentions is that there is a very slim variety of printers for low-volume manufacturers to choose tfrom. Furthermore, the machines that are available are too exorbitant.

“The challenge today is the soar­ing cost of printers. For high-end, high-volume manufacturers, a bevy of choices is available and most of them can afford expensive printers. However, the low-volume manufac­turers, who have complex boards with fine pitch QFPs and BGAs, do not have too much to choose from at an affordable cost. We have low-cost fully automatic printers for them,” says Sampath.

Patent infringements have become a major sore spot for industry members as many Asian manufacturers have been violating patents freely. Since they don’t have to spend money on research and development, they can sell machines at considerably lower rates.

“The biggest issue is patent in­fringement from Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean manufacturers of “me too” machines. These companies are infring­ing patents but not much can be done about it. As they spend no money on R&D, they can afford to sell at depleted prices, playing havoc with the market prices of reputable printer manufactur­ers like us,” says Singh. Let us now have a look at some of the firms engaged in the Indian SMT printer market.

DEK India: DEK recenly estab­lished its India office in Bengaluru and this has given the company a distinct edge over its competitors. The company designs, manufactures and supports screen printing machines and ancillaries. DEK’s customers come from various industries—electronics manufacturing services, original equip­ment manufacturers, original design manufacturers, telecommunications, automotive, consumer electronics, in­frastructure, industrial, etc and range from MNCs to domestic electronics manufacturers. Its key customer reten­tion strategy is simply based on provid­ing exactly what the customer needs, delivering excellent value, allowing them to “expect more” from DEK in terms of process expertise, commercial knowledge, customer support, through continuous technology advancement and competitive products.

ASYS Group: ASYS Group Asia, located in Singapore, supports the en­tire Asia-Pacific region from Japan in far northeast Asia, all the way down under to Australia/New Zealand, to the fringes of the Middle East and central Asian markets, in sales and service. The company proffers service and spareparts support, consulting serv­ices and customisation configurations of standard machines, allowing for quick delivery time. The group’s key customers include Bosch, Continental Temic, Qimonda, Infineon, Elcoteq and many others.

EMST Marketing Pvt Ltd: EMST Marketing Pvt Ltd, is part of Rs 2,500 million Electronica Group of com­panies, which have been pioneers of manufacturing capital goods like machine tools, plastics, electronics, metal cutting, etc, for various industry segments and are reputed for their electric discharge machines. EMST Marketing is a recently formed com­pany, from the joint venture company, EMS Technologies Pvt Ltd, to focus on sales and support of both EMS Tech­nologies machinery, as well as traded products from leading manufacturers in the world. It is basically involved in two segments—PCB assembly and cable processing equipment and has been in this business for the last 15 years. “We have the complete range of printers—manual, semi-automatic, fully automatic, in both off-line and in-line. We have plans of developing semi-auto printers locally, which will be introdued in the market within this fiscal or the next,” informs Sampath.

Leaptech Corporation: Leaptech Corporation is a supplier of PCB assem­bly automation and other automation solutions to electronics and automo­tive industries in India. The company started its operations in and has its head office in Mumbai. Its branch of­fices are present in Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai. Leaptech’s customers for SMT printers include Essae Elec­tronics, ECIL, HAL, Titan, etc. The prices of its printers (Speedprint brand) range from Great Britain Pound (GBP) 35,000-50,000.

Trans-Tec India: Trans-Tec strives to provide all its clients with the most practical, cost-effective and efficient solutions for their manufacturing needs. Over the past 20 years, it has forged deep and lasting relationships with both its principals and clients. In India, the company sells the Yamaha brand of printers.

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No. 1 electronics B2B sourcing magazine

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