As Indian automotive firms gear up to meet government mandated BS6 norms and mobile phones become sturdier, electronic components including connectors need to become smaller. Katsunori Takizawa, MD, and Puneet Tahilyani, director, Hirose Electric, in a free-wheeling discussion with Deepshikha Shukla, talk about how the latest trends in Indian mobile manufacturing, automotive electronics, 5G, and smart cities, will impact the market for connectors.
EB: What’s trending with respect to the features of mobilephones?
One of the trends we see in smartphones is that most of the high-end variants are either water-resistant or waterproof. And that is also a feature required for electronic components, especially for connectors. This can also serve a kind of cosmetic purpose because the other semiconductors are inside and cannot be seen, but the connector will always be on the outer side. And waterresistance has become more or less mandatory across the world. In recent times we have also seen more enhancements with cameras (having multiple camera modules in one phone) and foldable LCD panels. The mobile phone market globally had reached the saturation point even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
EB: What will be the role of connectors in 5G devices?
RF connectors and microwave connectors are specially designed for 5G devices. 5G technology requires a certain expertise in RF, because of its high frequency. We need to provide connectors that can comply with high frequencies. We have set up a team in India as well as in Singapore to analyse how and what more we can do for the 5G business. I believe every country is going to follow 5G in the future, which means we are in sync with the same trend
EB: What are the unique applications of connectors for the Indian market?
One of the growing application sectors is smart meters for future smart cities. I think many people are going to use smart meters automatically if the smart city programme gets implemented across India. There will also be a need for RF technology and we have client side RF devices too.
Besides, if you look at the environmental norms for BS6 cars, it has increased the demand for electronic components anyway, including special connectors. We already have a range of connectors developed for electric vehicles (EVs). We are supplying connectors to the big battery pack companies for battery management systems. But India has some specific
requirements for two-wheelers which we are working on, with the development team at our
headquarters creating India specific designs.
EB: How are you contributing to the mobile manufacturing industry?
We have many businesses related to mobile phones and wearables. And the reason why we are strong in this segment is because we believe in making things as small as possible, while having more features in the connector. This way, we can provide better solutions to smartphone designers. Our vision is to have at least a 25 per cent to 30 per cent share in the Indian connectors market, in sync with the Make in India campaign.
EB: What are the challenges faced when setting up manufacturing units in India?
I’ve been looking after the Indian market for almost 20 years. And there are many complex reasons behind why foreign investments didn’t happen, one of them being taxation. Companies were worried about how they can earn returns, once they invest. They were also worried about the infrastructure and some of the labour regulations. But forsome of the foreign companies, the main challenges faced I think have been on the ‘ease of doing business’ front.
But now that GST has been implemented, I think taxation is more centralised. And now,
corporate taxes are going to be lower, which means India is going to be following the same path as other developed countries like Japan. This tax reduction will motivate many investors to invest more in India and I believe that’s also the government’s intention.
EB: Are you getting any benefits from the Indian government’s policies?
The recent development related to corporate tax is of great help to new companies. Once the corporate tax gets lower, it places India on par with the world, and hence is a good initiative.
What we are getting as an indirect benefit is that the government is guiding people to change to a better technology by introducing BS6 norms. And that itself gives an opportunity to companies like ours to pitch our full-featured connectors. While upgrading to meet BS6 norms, people will abandon legacy products and go in for the latest technologies that require small PCBs for small packaging.