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Taiwanese machine tool makers eye a growing Indian market

Companies showcase their state-of-the-art products at expo in New Delhi

Echaintool's Rebecca Jian shows off her company's tool holders and milling cutters.

NEW DELHI -- Seeking to tap the huge Indian market, Taiwanese machine tool makers are offering their cutting-edge products for this country's manufacturing sector, which is being aggressively promoted by the government.

Machine tools such as lathes, boring bars, milling cutters and grinding machines are used for cutting and shaping metals or other rigid materials. They mainly address requirements of original equipment manufacturers of various industries such as aerospace, automotive, energy and electronics.

Enthused by the ambitious "Make in India" campaign of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which aims to turn the country into a manufacturing hub, several Taiwanese companies are participating in this weekend's Delhi Machine Tool Expo to showcase their products and attract customers. These include Tongtai Machine & Tool, Echaintool Industry, Huen Chen Machinery and Chain Headway Machine Tools.

Economic cooperation

 "The machine tool industry is one of Taiwan's most developed and best performing industries," said Hung Yang, executive director (economic division) of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India. Taiwan, he noted, is the world's seventh largest manufacturer of machine tools and the fifth biggest global exporter of those products.

The country's machine tool makers are stepping up efforts to utilize smart manufacturing technology in production, processing and product development in order to boost their international competitiveness, Yang said. "This is in line with the Taiwanese government's pledge to transform Taiwan into a global manufacturing hub for intelligent machinery."

Leo Li, international sales officer of Chain Headway Machine Tools, says that India's high economic and population growth is notable.

On the other hand, Yang observed, India is also promoting its Make in India campaign and aims for the manufacturing industry to account for 25% of overall gross domestic product by 2025, up from 16% at present. "In order to help India enhance its manufacturing capability, Taiwan and India can work together in fields of machine tools in terms of product design, market development, etc.," he said.

Yang also noted that India and Taiwan have displayed very close economic cooperation in recent years in areas of trade, investment and industry. Bilateral trade has grown nearly fivefold from $1.13 billion in 2001 to more than $5 billion in 2016.

Though the two countries maintain cordial ties, they do not have formal diplomatic relations -- as New Delhi recognizes only China. The New Delhi-based Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India is the representative office of Taiwan, functioning as its de facto embassy in the South Asian country. Similarly, New Delhi also has its representative office in Taipei.

Around 90 Taiwanese companies have set up operations in India with a total investment of about $1.5 billion in fields such as information and communication technology; medical devices; auto components; machinery; steel; electronics; construction; engineering and financial services.

But Yang points out that India's official statistics may underestimate Taiwan's investment, because some of the country's investors also bring their capital from a third country, other than Taiwan.

Companies speak

Leo Li, international sales officer of Chain Headway Machine Tools, said that in the last decade his company focused on China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, but is now turning its attention to the Indian market. It makes products such as polygon-taper tool holders and polycrystalline diamond inserts with mirror-facing milling cutters for metals like aluminium  

"India has a high population and economic growth," Li said. "Based on the idea of 'Make in India' we believe that India has the most potential in Asia today. Besides good products, we also offer consultation services. We will be able to arrange cutting edge tools and processing procedures for our clients." He added his firm sees "great scope" in India's automotive and electronics-related industries.

Nora Tsai, a spokesperson for Echaintool Industry, said her company has been supplying India for 10 years with cutting tools including tool holders, boring bars, high-speed milling cutters and rapid drills.

Rebecca Jian, another company official, said Echaintool is tapping opportunities in India's transportation sector, especially railways. "In the future, India will become the world's most populated country and will need an improved [infrastructure] for public transportation," she noted. "We can offer our cutting tools to local manufacturers and support the [Make in India] policy."

Rohit Rai, a spokesman for Tongtai, said the Taiwanese group -- whose products include turnkey solutions, vertical grinding machines and gantry-type milling machinery with linear motors -- has been working in India for 21 years. Its customers in the country include car and two-wheeler makers and vendors, such as Maruti Suzuki India, Tata Group, Hero Motors, Honda Motor and Bajaj Auto

Tongtai has also partnered with India's Lokesh Machines to produce some of its popular models in the southern city of Hyderabad. "We have already started manufacturing some fast-moving models in India and the first machines will start coming out next month," Rai said. "The whole idea is to get more and more products to our customers in India at more competitive prices and at a faster delivery time." 

The Taiwanese manufacturer plans to set up a technical center in India in the next three to four months to support its customers more closely. "There will be some very high-end machines for demonstration for customers so that they can actually come to the technical center, work together with us and understand their requirements more clearly," Rai said.

Machine tools, he noted are the "mother machines" required in every sector, and are key to the growth of manufacturing in India.

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