Asha Electronics has ambitious plans to set up manufacturing units in Gujarat

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The company aims at increasing revenue, widening its customer base and strengthening its manufacturing set-up. The company has some aggressive plans for the coming years to increase its revenue

Amit Bhargava, MD, Asha Electronics
Amit Bhargava, MD, Asha Electronics

By Kartiki Negi

Tuesday, October 21, 2014: Located in Mumbai, Asha Electronics is an electronics manufacturing services (EMS) firm that was established in 1985. The company was launched by my uncle, Late Krishna Kumar Bhargava, in a small way, to manufacture audio products. Started with a small capital investment, it grew under the leadership of Amit Bhargava, the current managing director of Asha Electronics (the nephew of the firm’s founder), who took the reins of the company from his uncle. The company registered a turnover of Rs 25 million in 2013-14 and aims to cross Rs 30 million in EMS by the end of the present fiscal.

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Amit Bhargava feels that the company’s uniqueness lies in its ability to deliver all kinds of manufacturing services demanded by the customer, covering a range of market segments like medical electronics, defence, automobiles, lighting, automation, consumer electronics, industrial electronics, etc. “We are a total solutions provider, and our services cover everything from designing to delivering the finished product. We cater to all kinds of requirements, whether these deal with PCB assembly or manufacturing the complete product,” says Amit Bhargava.

The journey so far

When the company ventured into the market 24 years ago, its operations were on a modest scale. “Initially, we manufactured audio products under the brand name ‘Dynavox.’ The biggest inflection in our growth path came in 1988 when we entered into a collaboration with Philips to manufacture radios. This collaboration grew stronger as we started manufacturing walkman-like gadgets, world receiver radios (we were the only company in India doing this) and subsequently, radio recorders, etc, for Philips. This opened up opportunities and avenues for us to expand in various sectors, apart from industrial and consumer electronics,” reminisces Amit Bhargava.

In 1995, Philips also roped in Asha Electronics to manufacture domestic appliances like juicers, coffee makers, etc. With steely determination and commitment, the company managed to carve a niche for itself in the market.

“Besides making PCB assemblies, we have the capabilities to assemble finished/end products as we have done with radios, two-in-one cassette players, juicers, coffee makers, etc. In 1999, we tied up with Tatafone to manufacture the Tatafone brand of telephones. Subsequently, we also made LCD monitors and LCD projectors for Philips. One of the projects that we worked with Philips, known as ‘Satellite Vardaan’ also won the prestigious ‘Innovation of the Year’ award from Philips. As of date, a host of technologically challenging equipment have been made by us, and we are capable and equipped to handle any complex product,” says Amit Bhargava.

Challenges faced

Establishing and sustaining the growth of the company was not a cakewalk. The company had to face several debacles before gaining a strong foothold in the EMS industry. Finance was also a matter of concern at one point of time. “Without investments, no company can grow and in electronics, particularly, the technology changes are rapid and continuous. Hence, one has to keep a company’s technical and manufacturing capabilities up to date. While the requirements of my customers may appear small, yet, to meet those requirements, I had to invest heavily in the latest technology. It was, and still is, a challenging task to remain up to date with the continuous changes in technology,” says Amit Bhargava.

Running a business is not always smooth sailing. One of the early lessons learnt was to embrace failure, but also to understand that it was not permanent. Bhargava recounts, “We did have one particularly bad debacle when providing EMS for a telecom client, who, in order to save some money, had asked us to do away with a certain circuit. Though we were against the idea, we had little choice in the matter. The result was a major failure in the circuit design and, ultimately, the project. This episode taught us the lesson that there are no shortcuts when it comes to quality and you cannot make compromises for the sake of costs.”

“As a company, Asha has always believed in accepting and learning from its mistakes. Even if it means a loss, one must accept a mistake for the sake of the customer and to build one’s own brand image, and then go on to take care of quality to the maximum extent possible, as under no circumstances can quality be compromised,” he adds.

Strengths and limitations

Asha Electronics considers its manufacturing set-up to be its biggest strength. The company operates from two units located in Mumbai and Daman, which are spread across 650sq m and 836sq m, respectively. Another strength is the belief that it has the ability to venture into any kind of product assembly. Asha Electronics is not just willing but also equipped to undertake the manufacture of the most complex product.

The company offers two kinds of EMS services. The first provides complete finished products; however, the final design is always decided by the customer, with help from Asha Electronics. The second caters to customers that only want PCB manufacturing to be done for them. “Our level of engagement is purely defined by the customers themselves—what and how much of it they want,” adds Amit Bhargava.

The company’s biggest achievement in the recent past has been to gain expertise in high volume manufacturing. There was a time when the company had the daunting task of delivering products to Philips at the rate of 20-30 per second. “Philips wanted the product to be made on a fault-free production line. And in order to achieve the target, we modified our assembly line in such a manner that an operator would work only for 30 seconds on a particular product and then would pass it onto the next stage. When you have to do something repeatedly for a very short period, there are very few chances of committing a mistake. That is how we achieved zero defect manufacturing—following the practice called ‘low cycle time’. This was one of the major achievements for us,” says Amit Bhargava.

Asha Electronics also values its workforce and considers it as its intangible asset.

“I take pride in my people because they support me to the core. No matter how challenging the task, my people have always stood by me,” adds Amit Bhargava.

Sustainability strategy

Even through difficult times, the management team at Asha Electronics has always stood by its principles. Amit Bhargava believes that some of the basics that customers want from a supplier are quality consciousness, cost effectiveness and on-time delivery. “After working for so many years, I now understand what customers really want; so we concentrate on these three requirements and that is how we’ve succeeded in making a mark in the industry,” he says.

The company has always focused on providing good service. “My turnaround time is pretty quick. Our relationship with the customers is not limited to just assembling PCBs. If we see any technical problems during the manufacturing of the PCB, we immediately share it with our clients and suggest modifications based on our manufacturing experience, so that our clients benefit from the same. That is what gives us an edge over others,” says Amit Bhargava.

The company has never compromised on integrity. It follows the rules of intellectual property by not sharing the technical details of the products it manufactures for its clients with anybody else.

However, the company feels that it is time for it to acquire some critical modern equipments like automated inspection and X-Ray machines. “Keeping the market’s demands and our requirements in mind, we have robust plans to set up lines equipped with automated inspection and further augment inspection with X-ray inspection systems, too,” informs Amit Bhargava.

Expansion plans

The company has some aggressive plans for the coming years to increase its revenue. If all goes as per plan, Asha Electronics aims to have manufacturing units in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Says Amit Bhargava, “I plan to add the latest technology, so as to be up to date with the latest trends in the industry and emerge as a stronger entity than ever before.”

KEY FACTS AT A GLANCE
Year of establishment

1985

Turnover (2013-14)

Rs 30 million

Workforce

100

Production capacity

30,000 CPH

Manufacturing units

One each in Mumbai and Daman

Major machines in the plant

Ekra automatic screen printer, Juki chip shooter, Juki fine pitch placer, Vitronics 10 zone Nitrogen capable oven, air chiller

Major customers

L&T, Philips, Tata, etc

Product range

Audio products, telephones, power savers, LED drivers, LED lights

Sectors catered to

Medical electronics, defence, automobiles, lighting, automation, consumer electronics, industrial electronics, etc

Services offered

PCB assembly, EMS from design to mass production, refurbishment of equipments

Contact details

Asha Electronics Pvt Ltd, F-16, MIDC Marol, Opp Seepz, Andheri (E), Mumbai-400093

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

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