“Setting Up An R&D Centre In India And Managing It From China Is Not Just A Giant Task, But A Major Obstacle As Well”

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Astrum Holdings Limited, a global consumer electronics product and accessories manufacturer, have recently set up R&D and production units in India. However, they find driving design engineering and production in India challenging, mainly due to the lack of component and raw material availability. Yogesh Dhandharia, director of Astrum shares with Baishakhi Dutta of Electronicsb2b.com their plans of bringing R&D and design capabilities to India.

Yogesh Dhandharia, director, Astrum

Q. Can you share some details about your R&D set-up?
We have R&D setup in two places – Mumbai (India) and Shenzhen (China). We are following a strategy that the India centre will be more of a Software Development Centre wherein we are going to make smart applications. In Mumbai, we have around 8 engineers with us who are working on AI, machine learning and deep learning. We are taking support from NVIDIA for the R&D initiatives. We are working on Android for all our smart products and are integrating them with our products so that our end users can benefit from the actual working of the product by controlling them through the application on your smartphone.

Q. You also have a manufacturing unit in India?
Yes, we have a manufacturing facility in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, where we’ve started production. In fact, we have already released our first Made in India product in the audio category.

We’d initially planned to have 2 centres in India – in Mumbai and in Tirupati. But then we found out that the raw materials that we need to make new products like earphones, headphones, power banks and similar things were only available in China. So, we decided to have our design engineers in China as well. Currently, India is still in the hardware product development phase compared to China. Till the time, the Indian market is mature enough, we will be carrying out our hardware development activities from China, so that whatever new products we think of or any upgrades that we plan will have less time to market. For every product, you need at least 90 to 120 days for development in India. The same thing gets reduced to 15 to 20 days in China.

When you go to China for raw material, you are actually sharing your ideas with them, which they immediately copy. So, your ideas get leaked and before your product is ready, they come up with theirs and you lose.

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