EMS Technologies: Pioneering Indian Manufacturer of Electronics Manufacturing Equipment

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IMG_20160820_123357EMST credits the success of its machines to their reputation for reliability. The management team claims that the firm’s technology tie-ups led to robust product designs, which were backed by the guarantee of reliable parts even during the process of indigenisation

By Sneha Ambastha

Established in 1998, EMS Technologies Pvt Ltd has completed 18 successful years. However, its promoters have been active since 1993, when they set up the production automation division of Electronica Mechatronic Systems Pvt Ltd. In fact, even today, the firm is better known by its group name, ‘Electronica’. This business group was a pioneer in capital goods manufacturing for various industries like machine tools, plastics, electronics, mechatronics, etc, and was also into finance.
“The first product we developed as a group was a machine for guided through-hole PCB assembly called Litescan, which was designed with technology from Assembly Automation, UK. The next was a batch reflow oven called PRO90 and then a rework station called Charisma11. For both of these, the company bought the technology from Advanced Techniques Co., USA. But, our most famous creation was the ELEKRA Aries table-top wave soldering machine with technology from IEEME Italy,” says L. Sampath, CEO of EMS Technologies Pvt Ltd.
He adds, “This is how we started —mainly through technology tie-ups with considerable investments, which gave us a strong technology base to develop the company further.”

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Konark 820, an 8-zone reflow oven
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Sheet metal CNC cutting and bending machines

Manufacturing floor: at a glance
Products manufactured by the company: Today, EMS Technologies manufactures a fairly wide range of machines. These include:

  • Wave soldering machines, both finger and carrier type, as well as entry level table-top machines.
  • SMT printers – The firm has different models starting from very basic entry level variants to high precision manual printers, semi-automatic printers and LED printers for 1200mm PCBs.
  • Reflow ovens – Again, the firm has basic entry level 3-zone models, along with 5-zone, 7-zone and 8-zone versions, and is at the moment developing 9- and 10-zone models.
  • Solder paste softener machine.
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Today, EMS Technologies claims that it’s the first Indian manufacturing equipment provider to launch a pick-and-place machine with a table-top model called Eagle 2015. This runs on Japanese technology. The firm is developing it further with a vision system to make it a full-fledged pick-and-place machine.

Machinery used at the facility: Sampath says, “The company’s major work includes sheet metal fabrication, which requires suitable machinery. We have s CNC cutting machine, a CNC bending machine and recently, we made our big investment in a laser cutting machine. We also use wire cutting and stripping machines for our electrical panel works. Apart from these, we have all types of welding machines, drilling machines, tapping machines, etc.”

Manufacturing capacity: The company has a manufacturing facility in Pune, with a capacity of around 12 to 15 machines per month, depending on the product mix.

Capex investments in manufacturing: The total capex of the company in manufacturing is about ₹ 12.5 million and the funding has been through banks. This does not include any land or buildings.

Focus on quality
Sampath says, “EMST has its own internal quality standards, which is on the same lines as ISO. We have almost 100 per cent inspection on all raw materials. Every sub assembly system is inspected before it goes into final assembly where we have exhaustive final inspection testing. Wherever required, a dry run is done for a minimum of eight hours. We also have regular QIP meetings to keep track of all field reports.”
Sampath adds, “It is these quality standards which bring reliability to our machines.”

Tools used for quality

  • Surface plate
  • Height gauges
  • Dial gauges
  • Digital verniers and micrometers
  • Digital multimeters
  • Power meter
  • Anemometer
  • Temperature profiler, etc.
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Finger conveyor wave soldering machine

Success story
“One of the most important factors for our success is the reliability of our machines. Due to our technology tie-ups, we had robust designs and we ensured that even during the process of indigenisation, the reliability of parts was taken care of. So most of the machines sold in our earlier days were highly reliable and established our name in the market across the nation,” says Sampath. He adds, “Machines we sold in the late nineties are still working in quite a few places. We ensured that all our new designs and developments had the same built-in ‘reliability’. Now, many of our machines are working on three shifts, at many locations, especially in North India where many high volume manufacturers are located.”
“We developed all our machines for medium volume manufacturing and not for very high volumes like the Chinese, nor for very low volumes. This ensured that our machines were affordable, giving the same performance as imported machines, yet with the added advantage of local support,” says Sampath.

L Sampath_CEO_EMS
L. Sampath, MD, EMST Marketing Pvt Ltd and GM, EMS Technologies

 

“Our heavy investments during our startup days, to buy technology from reputed sources, gave us a strong base to develop the organisation in terms of technology and product development”

 

 

Take on ‘Make In India’
For EMST, ‘Making in India’ started way back in 1993 when it became the first Indian company to invest in developing and manufacturing SMT and through-hole machinery. Sampath says, “Ours is an example of successfully ‘Making in India’, as we have survived in spite of the very slow growth of the SMT industry on one side and the fast paced technological changes, on the other. When the market started to grow, we had to quickly introduce new models with the latest technology so that we could fight the competition from outside India. But, in today’s environment where cheap machines from China are flooding the market, it’s not going to be easy unless the Indian mindset changes to support local industry. It will never be possible to match Chinese prices in machinery as raw materials like sheet metal are so cheap in China. The machines there are made to match the price by sourcing cheap components and there is no standardisation. There is no local support too. But still there are buyers who are willing to purchase such cheap machines and are even ready to scrap them if these do not work.”
He suggests, “Buyers should realise that this is a cycle and one day it will reach their doors too—when they will face Chinese competition and, by that time, it may be quite late. Only a change in mindset can make local electronics manufacturing work.

Equipment at the facility
 Machine  Manufacturer  Model no.
CNC cutting (shearing) machine Hindustan Hydraulics EHPE 80 X 2500
CNC bending machine Hindustan Hydraulics GS 3106
Laser cutting machine Sahajanand Laser Brahmastra Infinity Fiber Laser
Milling machine Argo SH-NT30-9258
Welding machine Mogora CB30086
Spot welding machine Sai Arc Pedal type
Drilling machine Sai Engineering 2.54cm pillar-type
Tapping machine Trade Max
Facts and figures
Established in: 1998
Major products: Pick-and-place machines, wave soldering systems, SMT printers, reflow ovens and solder paste softening machines
Production capacity:  About 12 to 15 machines per month, depending on the product mix
Factory location:   Pune
Workforce:  36
Annual turnover:  Approximately ₹ 100 million (₹ 97.6 million last year)
Regions:  National: Branches at Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai. The head office is at Pune
International: South Africa, Turkey, Russia, UK, Iran
Contact details:   L. Sampath, Ph: 09595525010
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