“We assign the most experienced personnel from Japan to support local companies in India”

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Business for Yamaha, the SMT equipment manufacturer from Japan, is growing well in India. Isomura Norihisa, group manager – Europe, America and South East Asia sales group (SMT overseas sales and marketing division, global inspection business) at Yamaha, feels that Indian customers are gradually beginning to make faster investment decisions. In a chat with Baishakhi Dutta, he outlines the company’s growth strategy, his views on the government’s policies, and more.

EB: How has business been over the past few years in the Indian market?
We started our India operations back in 1997-98. So we have been here for almost 20 years. Our sales revenue from the Indian market has tripled in the last two to three years. As compared to last year, this year we have witnessed a 150 per cent increase in revenue, which is quite good. However, the automotive industry in India is in a very bad state, even though our growth in this sector has been good.

This year, our profitability was lower than what we expected, but was higher than last year. We are expecting positive growth next year.

EB: Do you have any new offerings for the industry?
Yes. We released a new screen printer in June 2019. Normally, a screen printer is operated manually—by removing the old solder paste and stencil, and replacing these with the new solder paste and stencil. This new machine does both these activities automatically.

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EB: What is the USP of your product, compared to your competitors? Is it the automated technology that you have brought in?
Our competitor doesn’t offer this function. Ours is the only machine that provides automated changeover. It will be brought to the Indian market soon. In Japan, Europe and the US, labour costs are very high. That is why we developed this unmanned equipment to reduce labour costs.

EB: Are there any plans to get some more distributors on board?
We are asking our distributors from Korea, China or Japan to come to India. Currently, we do not have any plans to expand our local Indian distributor network, because we believe that we are already in the top position in terms of sales and service support for local customers.

EB: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the Indian government’s initiatives to promote domestic manufacturing?
We would give a rating of 8.5. We hope the government’s policies will be stable and enjoy the strong support of foreign companies to expand their businesses in India.

EB: Going forward, are there any plans to make further investments or to expand in India? Are you planning to open any sales or marketing office here?
For SMT equipment, service support is very important. Hence we will keep on expanding on that front.
We opened one service centre in August 2019 at Faridabad in Haryana. The aim is to support local distributors and then customers, directly.

EB: Is this the first Yamaha service centre in India?
This is the first one in India that’s directly run by Yamaha. The difference between our competitor and Yamaha is that we send Japanese engineers to India instead of relying on local engineers because our pick-and-place technology is very complicated. You need a lot of knowledge and experience to deal with Yamaha machines. That is why we assign the most experienced personnel from Japan to support local companies in India.

EB: Do you plan to open more such customer service centres in the future?
Yes. We are hiring local people and training them on how we provide service support. In the future, we are thinking about setting up an office in Chennai to cover the southern region of India.

EB: From the point of view of an industry expert. Do you think traditional sales will get overtaken by online sales channels?
Both traditional and online sales are necessary in any business. Service support can be done online via the Internet nowadays. We are also starting online service support in Japan and will gradually expand it to the overseas markets. Maybe we will do it soon in India, too, via the Internet. Since SMT equipment is based more on mechanics rather than being about software, both the traditional and online sales channels are required in this business.

EB: Are there any particular problems or challenges that you have faced while doing business in India? And how have these been taken care of?
The decision-making time of the Indian customers is quite long. This was our problem while dealing with the Indian market. Taking a long time to think things over and then sometimes not deciding properly becomes an obstacle when doing business in India. But since the past two years, the market has totally changed. Today, customers decide and make investments much faster. So, now that problem no longer exists. We are actually very satisfied with the Indian market at present.

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