A RECKNONING NAME IN THE INDIAN MACHINE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
manufacturing has traditionally been a backbone of the Indian economy. The nation has a rich and intriguing history of manufacturing industries, starting with textiles and extending to a multitude of fields. Among others, machine tools, also referred to as industrial equipment manufacturing, have a great significance. It brought India into a new era of utilizing power tools that could create machines and machine parts (lathes, grinders, etc.). Based on the specifications of the products, it created industrial equipment for cutting, abrading, shaping, grinding, drilling, snapping, molding, etc., as well as shearing materials such as metals, wood, etc.
This advancement furthered the advent of fully and partially automated systems used today to produce machine parts at a reliable costs. Factories are becoming smarter, combining data analytics with machines, robotics, simulation, system integration, additive manufacturing, and much more. This cyber-physical evolution blurs the lines between the physical, digital, and biological domains, fostering adaptability, resource efficiency, and ergonomics. It also integrates customers and business partners within the value process so that companies can better meet volatile market requirements.
Driven by this evolution, India is becoming a powerhouse of machining tools. Needless to say, there is only a rare section that has contributed to taking the industry from zero to zenith by constantly breaking new grounds. Lokesh Machines is a revered name in this pantheon. The following article highlights the company’s meteoric rise and how it is driving a sustainable impact in the country.
A GLANCE AT LOKESH MACHINES
Lokesh Machines is a technologically advanced machine tool manufacturer with a legacy of shaping the history of its domain. Its journey began in 1985 with a mission to champion excellent and reliable products through innovative manufacturing and machining services at a cost-effective price. It served the automotive sector predominantly, and while it was good, any slowdown in that industry directly impacted it. Even so, it has weathered 3 major recessions and created an illustrious growth trajectory through time.
Today, the company has a vast portfolio consisting of CNC Machines, Special Purpose Machines (SPM), Automation, and Auto Components. From a company with 25 Lakhs at inception, today, Lokesh Machines is a 200 Cr.+ company. Its operations are certified under ISO 9001:2008 & TS 16949:2009 standards by TUV NORD.
Even though it has shown a modest revenue generation, the company has an impressive asset base of land holdings, buildings, and machinery. The company operates from six locations in Hyderabad and Pune. Its products are exported to Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, Russia, China, and Middle East countries. It has a strong network of stakeholders, including team members, esteemed clients, and financial partners, which has helped the company sail through waves and tides.
EXPANDING ITS WINGS TO BECOME A “ONE-STOP-SHOP”
Since COVID-19, the Indian machine tool market has faced drastic changes. Several external and internal factors have bottlenecked the demand in the machine tools market. Capital goods have always been vulnerable to economic downturns. Since machine tools are used to produce other capital goods, the sector has become vulnerable to economic fluctuations.
Import duties on raw materials, metal components, etc., have affected the growth of tool manufacturers. Similarly, a growing number of competitors in the global tool manufacturing space is challenging the Indian market. On the customer side, the paradigm shift to electric drivetrains has resulted in a structural crisis. Automobile manufacturers are becoming reluctant to invest in production assets due to the uncertain future of conventional engines.
The said cognizance has made Lokesh Machines reduce their focus on automotive and further expand into non-automotive sectors. In doing so, Lokesh Machines has become a reckoning machine manufacturer. Almost 50% of its Machine Tool Division’s revenues are from the non-auto sector. It has developed General Purpose Machines, better suited for the power sector, such as turbine blades, casings, etc. Similarly, niche solutions have been delivered to the farming sector. The accuracy and reliability of its machines are also sought out by aerospace, defense, and medical infrastructure companies.
With renewed vigor and lessons from managing crises, the company is now on a sustainable trajectory. Even though inflationary pressures are still plaguing the domain, Lokesh Machines minimizes the impact by working hard internally as well as with many of its suppliers to identify means to contain costs. This keeps their system lean, and production levels are kept high. The crisis, however, has brought the Indian manufacturing industry under the spotlight, which is poised to thrive in the coming years. “Perhaps, this motivates our global suppliers to look at localization that can further our products’ competitiveness in the future,” adds Likhitha Mullapudi, Director.
THE CRITICAL VALUE OF R&D
True to its vision and core beliefs, the company is actively driving innovation to create unique solutions. This helps to boost trust with clients across all sectors. Strategic endeavours, however, require a tailored strategy. R&D is hence a crucial underlying tenet of Lokesh Machines. From the ability to create new products to the ability to thrive in cutthroat markets, the company conforms to R&D practices. And this is clear from the many “first-in-the-market” developments it has made throughout the years. Few of the notable mentions are enumerated below:
- Delivered SPM for a Global Euro 6 Engine manufacturer in 2016 while India moved to BS6 in 2020 only
- Provided Pallet Changers on SPMs for one customer who wished to have a lean plant
- Offered customized solutions using its General Purpose Machines, which has helped customers substitute expensive high end imported machines.
- A completely automated line that includes manufacturing, inspection etc. comprising over 14 stations for an axle manufacturing company
- Critical Engine Cylinder Block Finishing Machines for a leading Truck Major
- Complete turnkey Engine Cylinder Blocks manufacturing line for a global tractor manufacturer.
Aside from these, several more standalone machines attest to its quality and for which it is still a go-to provider. Their first lathe and VMC are still in use. The projects illustrate the technological hegemony it has accrued over time. The turnkey automation and material handling solutions, with IoT connectivity in machines to ensure improved management and production, is a fine example. Its prior relationships with foreign corporations that it supplies with white-labeled equipment have also helped it advance its technological know-how. With innovative products, Lokesh Machines has built a devoted customer base that encourages referrals and repeat business.
“We are lucky to have a good customer base, who are constantly guiding us with recommendations and repeating the orders. “Our relation with most of them spans over 20 years from the time we started making CNC machines,”-Likhitha continues.
Leading automobile OEMs, Tier I and Tier II firms, as well as many nonautomotive firms, highly regard it.
UNIMPEDED BY COVID-19
Nothing could have adequately prepared Lokesh Machines for COVID-19, not even the most innovative strategic methods. Simply put, it was like white water rafting through the mist. The shutdown and subsequent supply chain interruptions left them with financial wounds. So how did they bounce back? It was the sheer will and resolve of all stakeholders that enabled them to bounce back without compromising quality, dependability, and precision. Most of the team were physically back at work with the appropriate health measures, as working from home is not possible in the manufacturing industry. Since then, they have factored epidemics into their risk mitigation strategies.
Likhitha adds, “We even established a marketing division in Bangalore.” In summary, Despite the fall In economy post pandemic, they are noticing a growing demand for machines that can multitask with minor automation, and they are creating solutions for this in collaboration with 3rd parties.
A ZEALOUS & UNIFIED WORK-ECOSYSTEM
A true leader is one who finds the path, travels it, and illuminates it for others. This is how the leaders of Lokesh Machines have kept its sails high. The company is run by industry mavens with 30 to 40 years of relevant experience. They are firmly anchored and responsive to the needs of the clients. Since inception, they have demonstrated an entrepreneurial mindset, constantly striving for innovation. They have upheld a distinct set of values that define the team and are the basic tenets for the next generation to follow. At present, Likhitha is leading the company, carrying forward their lineage.
These values, driven by a collaboration of leaders and associates, ensure every location functions like a well-oiled machine. Since manufacturing excellence unites them all, their work culture increases productivity and raises employee morale. Because of the company’s cohesive culture and everyone’s alignment with its aim, Lithikha claims that this is what makes it unique. They promote open communication across echelons by holding frequent town hall meetings with the top management to ensure complete transparency.
THRIVING & UNCOVERING NEW HORIZONS
Adorned in technology, driven by values, supported by devoted stakeholders, and humbled by customers’ trust, Lokesh Machines is exhibiting exponential growth. Its timeline spanning over 3 decades is enough proof to justify its core statement, “Leading Machine Tools Manufacturer in India,” which it lives by and goes to every extent to maintain. With well-received projects under its belt and industry recognition, the company is actively expanding its manufacturing facilities to double its production capacity. In that light, Lokesh Machines is geared up to embrace Industry 4.0 innovations. Development of Metal Additive Manufacturing Machines is also on the line.
On the technical front, the company is ready to take its legacy of innovation and reliability to the next level. It’s entering new strategic partnerships with overseas companies to maintain the technological edge. They are also expanding to new component divisions in nonautomotive sectors. Last but definitely not least, Lokesh Machines is seeking to flourish in the EV market.
“We have identified a few components and subassemblies that would be compatible with our existing activities, and we are establishing the groundwork for those so that we are prepared for future expansion,” states Likhitha.
With so many exciting prospects in the pipeline, it will be intriguing to watch how the company sets benchmarks in its mission, “To champion excellent and reliable products through innovative manufacturing and machining services at a cost-effective price.”
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