AdvanceTech, an industrial equipment, tools and consumables distributor, utilizes its R&D wing to deliver customer-driven customizations on its product inventory. Nitish Gupta, business development manager of Advance Tech Services Pvt Ltd converses with Baishakhi Dutta of Electronicsb2b.com about India as a business landscape and how the company is strategizing its business in the country.
Q) How has India been faring as a business destination compared to global markets recently?
It’s a trickle-down effect. The government is indeed trying their best. But if I talk about how that effort is paying off on the ground, that is something beyond the government’s hand. The US and China trade war and Brexit have impacted the Indian economy for sure. In the last 15 years, the US and Chinese economies have come down to single-digit growth. Singapore’s economy is growing at 0.2 per cent. So in that sense, the Indian economy growing at 6 percent is pretty decent. So everyone is impacted. The hype in India that we are the only sufferers is not true. Amidst all these, we are hopeful that things will start taking a positive turn in the next quarter.
Q) What potential does India hold as an electronics business market?
Here is how the problem in our country looks like as an analogy – if a person sees a fire and even if someone provides that person with the safety equipment, the person will prefer to get burnt first instead of spending money on the safety equipment. The Indian market acts similarly. They are not even aware of what the latest happenings are in the industry. So it depends on company to company as to how seriously they are taking their R&D to be and how ambitious they are as an organisation. A lot of small companies are coming up slowly, like the solar panel companies and all those who are ready to invest in them. The companies coming up now are realising that quality comes only with price.
Q) According to you, which domain has seen an uprise and which domain has seen a downfall?
The consumer and automotive industry is down. Cell phones and smartphone market is also witnessing a slowdown. But this is temporary. We are expecting the market to pick up, especially the automotive sector, after March 2020.
Q) How has the business been in the past 1-2 years?
This year for us was neither growth nor challenging. It was more of a year of sustenance for the entire electronics industry. I believe in any industry, after a certain period, a saturation point does come.
Q) What are your thoughts on the recent corporate tax cut?
It would be beneficial but it would be too early to talk about the impact of corporate tax. I believe it won’t make a very major difference since there are many loopholes. Though they have reduced the tax from 30 per cent to 22 percent, there has hardly been a difference of 3 percent if we consider the entire tax model. Not sure if the 2 -3 percent will make any difference for a company.
Q) Which do you think is more difficult – getting customers or getting the right talent pool in India?
Well, the right talent can always tap the right customer and understand their problem. So the first step in the ladder would be to look out for the right talent which will eventually lead up to the right customer. It’s not difficult, but finding the right talent gets more attention.
Q) What is the latest technical upgrade in soldering equipment in the market?
The solder commonly being used in the industry is the tin and copper combination. It has a melting point range of around 90 to 450 degrees Celsius. By using this alloy, a similar application can be obtained at a temperature of about 70 degrees less. So talking about the latest trend in soldering – low energy consumption, less failure, better life cycle has come in.
Q) Any latest technology that your R&D team has been working upon? What is its application?
From the R&D perspective, we have developed a new screw counter. A person might miss one or two screws while tightening the screws. Companies with large production cannot afford to have such loopholes.
So the screw counter when connected with the screwdriver, gives you a signal and the supply to the screwdriver will automatically shut. An operator will know that he has missed out on something since it will give them an alarm signal. Also, it won’t take into account multiple tightening on the same screw.
Q) How do you decide the innovation goals for your R&D team?
We have an in-house R&D centre. We take input from companies in varied sectors like automobile, defence, telecom, solar, LED, etc and then we get to know the problem. If possible we try and synchronize the solution in our existing equipment so that it is more cost-effective. It helps customers to imbibe the solution then and there instead of replacing the entire equipment.
Q) How do you see the demands for these tools at the moment?
Demand depends on the market scenario. Currently, the automotive industry has trickled down by 35-40 per cent. So it’s more of a sustaining period. But with Make in India initiative, a lot of companies are venturing into production so the future is brighter for sure
Q) Are handheld tools and equipment witnessing any overall change with the introduction of IoT?
Not really. Though the IoT journey has started in the country, but there is still a long way to go before IoT can be more reliable and effective.
Q) How important is the role of sales and customer relations teams in the R&D process?
The better the relationship is with the customers, the more honest is the feedback. That, in turn, helps companies to come up with a better solution. Hence the role of sales and customer relations plays a very important role in any business. We are also no exception and have got immense support from our customers in improving our R&D activities.
Q) Are you encountering any challenges while doing R&D in India?
In India, the main challenges in R&D come when you are dealing with semiconductors and microelectronics. The sector that we deal in, is a little less complex than these sectors. Hence we do not come across any such specific challenges.