With its capacity growing many times over, Interfab Electronics plans to focus on tapping additional markets by building a strong sales team
Monday, April 07, 2014: Located in Mumbai, Interfab Electronics India Pvt Ltd is the realisation of first generation entrepreneur Deepak G Sawant’s dreams. He is also the managing director of the firm. Incorporated in 1991, Interfab began as a small scale industry and has now emerged as a medium sized company engaged in electronics manufacturing services (EMS). Set up with an investment of less than Rs 5 million, the firm recorded a revenue of Rs 90 million in 2012. Those at the helm hope to cross the Rs 100 million mark in FY 2013-14.
Deepak Sawant feels that the company’s unique feature is its focus on design for manufacturing and design for testing for the PCB assembly industry. The company has established a presence in various market segments such as instrumentation, industrial automation, medical electronics, defence, telecom, energy management and the utility sector.
“The name Interfab stands for interactive fabrication, which implies that customers are assured of satisfaction by services that are offered along with innovation in conceptual design, integration of processes and involvement in projects to achieve the desired results,” says Deepak Sawant. The company has a business experience of more than 22 years in the field of surface mount technology (SMT), and its promoters have a strong technical background in microelectronics. “Our applications engineering group believes in offering flexibility through lean manufacturing, quality assurance by adopting seamless automation and ensuring yields in production processes using design for manufacturability (DFM) and design for testability (DFT) techniques,” he adds.
The journey so far
When Interfab entered the market, it was a small enterprise that was set up in a very modest way. “Initially, for a period of five to 10 years of our journey, we concentrated primarily on customer development, gradually adding more and more products and giving better customer service. Adding more customers to our list was our priority,” says Deepak Sawant. “Basically, the electronics market has not evolved much in the western region of the country. The major markets lie in the south and north. But with our dedication and determination, the company has managed to come to this level,” he adds.
However, this long journey has not been a cake walk for Deepak Sawant since he is not from a business family. Being a first generation entrepreneur, the main hurdle for him was to arrange the finances for setting up the company. “The banking or the financial systems in India are not business friendly, nor do they encourage entrepreneurs who have the capabilities to grow or have the confidence to invest and make any project successful. Generally, start-ups have to face a lot of hurdles from the banking system in India. This scenario is very disheartening and I do not think there has been much of a change over the last 10-15 years,” says Deepak Sawant.
Interfab went through many ups and downs during the economic slowdown and bad market conditions. In spite of there being no one from the previous generation to play the role of a guide, as in second or third generation businesses, the company managed to sail through the testing times by depending upon its experience and principles. “Failures and hurdles are part of running a business, and we treat them as normal situations. We have gone through many problems but they were never a threat to us. In fact, they made us very strong,” adds Deepak Sawant.
Strengths and limitations
Quality components, stringent inward inspection of PCBs, standardisation in processes, performance guaranteed by functional and endurance tests, total process control of fine pitch devices such as micro BGA, CSP, TQFP, flip chips and micro SMD connector assemblies are some of Interfab’s manufacturing strengths. Talking about the company’s philosophy, Deepak Sawant says, “Not to over spend or under invest but grow organically, was the philosophy we started with and are still following. We had observed that big companies invested ambitiously but when market conditions deteriorated, they were not able to curtail their expenses. So, our strength from the beginning was to invest very wisely,” says Deepak Sawant. “This industry requires lots of investments for packaging goods, labour, premises and fixed assets, so funds are always required. If the funds are well controlled, then a healthy journey can be witnessed,” he says.
The main challenge for Interfab Electronics is to satisfy its customers and win their confidence in order to gain more business. “Our projects are always delivered on time and this has been our biggest achievement,” adds Deepak Sawant.
The last two-three years have been very crucial for Interfab Electronics. This was the time when the firm managed to get a good foothold in the market, making itself strong with the support of robust systems. The company has always laid special emphasis on its quality management system that is an integral part of a technical business. When the company became ISO 9001 certified, it further enhanced the quality and reliability of its products. The company has started planning for the expansion of its manufacturing facility.
Deepak Sawant gives credit to Interfab’s well trained staff and says that they are the assets of the firm. “We have started training our people and recruiting new staff simultaneously. We have always recruited people who are motivated to stay with the company for a long time,” he says.
Despite unfavourable market conditions, Interfab has continued to grow and carved a niche for itself. To back its strong technical experience, the company has also invested in R&D, design development and information technology. It has grown on the principles of transparency, quality and honesty.
“Sustainability is not a problem for us as we are not dependent on one industry. We are catering to several segments. Even if one segment doesn’t do well, others will. There will never be a time when all the sectors perform well at the same time. The key is to develop new products and support new customers from various fields and different segments,” says Deepak Sawant.
Interfab also believes in creating its own market instead of cutting into that of its competitors or sharing somebody’s business. “I have never worried about the competition. Instead, I’ve tried to look at the weaknesses of our company, and tried to strengthen the skills of our employees. That will lead us to greater heights. And that is our sustainability strategy,” Deepak Sawant says.
However, Interfab is lacking in the area of sales and marketing, “We need to have a strong sales force,” admits Deepak Sawant. The company had initially concentrated on retaining existing customers and getting repeat orders. So it never really tried to explore new avenues.
The company has two state-of-the-art facilities located about 5 km from Navi Mumbai. The fully functional facility with a static controlled environment is located at the Electronic Zone, MIDC Mahape, and is equipped with sophisticated automated machines such as Japanese multi-function fine-pitch IC mounters, high speed chip pick and placers, multi-zone conveyor reflow and wave soldering machines – all of which are compliant with the requirements of the latest lead-free technology. It uses simulation tools for design and development, and has five pick and place machines—three at Rabale and two at Mahape. “We have a very flexible set-up, where we can cater to all kinds of requirements – entry level, medium level or mass production – and carry out a variety of jobs using diverse processes,” says Deepak Sawant.
Spread across 465 sq m (5000 sq ft), the facility manages its inventory of a wide variety of SMD and through-hole components in different packages to give its customers tailor-made solutions with the exact packaging needs of the end product. Its Rabale facility is partially operational and has a total area of 836 sq m (9000 sq ft).
The company looks forward to aggressively building up its market share and attaining industry leadership leadership within the country. It aims at setting up an EMS facility with a higher level of automation and trained manpower. Its plans for the future are already in the implementation stage. The Rabale facility, which came into the company’s possession 10 months back, will be fully operational soon. Special emphasis will be given to brand promotion in the coming years, with increased participation in seminars and exhibitions. With its capacity growing many times over, Interfab Electronics plans to focus on tapping additional markets by building a strong sales team. These developments would lead to a bigger workforce, which is also being planned for.
|KEY FACTS AT A GLANCE|
|Year of Establishment||1991|
|Turnover (2012-13)||Rs 90 million|
|Workforce||Around 63 including 35 in Mahape and 28 in Rabale|
|Production space||Mahape: 3870.96 sqm and Rabale: 11612.9 sqm|
|Manufacturing units/plant locations||Mahape and Rabale|
|Major machines in the plant||Fully automatic stencil printers, pick and place machines, multi function mounters, reflow ovens, EOI, ICT (In-circuit test), loaders and unloaders, link conveyor, etc|
|Major customers||Forbes Marshall, L&T, BRC Electronics Pvt Ltd|
|Product range||PCB assembly, instrumentation control, medical electronics, automation products, industrial automation products, defence and communication|
|Sectors catered to||Instrumentation of process industry, automation industry, medical electronics, solar energy, LED lighting, power supply|
|Services offered||EMS, contract manufacturing, design and development of PCBs, development of embedded systems, product development on turnkey basis|
|Contact details||Electronics Sadan No. 1, Ground FLoor, C-19, MIDC Electronic Zone, Near GTL, Mahape, Navi Mumbai-400 710; Ph: +91-22-27689177, 27613528,
[email protected], [email protected]
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