Focus on becoming a quality component supplier for defence primes: Anurag Lohia, Director of Lohia Group

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Published: February 11, 2019 9:05:01 PM

We will be attending the show but unfortunately due to time constraints (of planning for the show) we will not be exhibiting at the show.

We are in continuous discussions with various Original Equipment Manufacturers to participate in their on-going or future programs.

The challenges of the defense sector got the Lohia Group excited about the sector. The company is doing a lot in various initiatives of the government including Make in India, Skill India and Digital India.

Following are excerpts of exclusive interview of Anurag Lohia, Director – Lohia Group with Financial Express Online’s Huma Siddiqui:

What are you planning to do under the various initiatives of the government including Skill India, Digital India and Make in India?

The aerospace composite manufacturing sector is very labour intensive and this provides us with a great opportunity of recruiting local talent and training them for world class aerospace component manufacturing.

Under Skill India initiative of the government we are working on, firstly, sending a first batch of 25 people to be trained on the Job at our Israeli facility, they will undertake certificate courses as well as learn composite manufacturing on the shop floor of an active aerospace manufacturing facility for a period of 6 months.

Secondly, they will then return to Kanpur and become leads and trainers for a larger and growing pool of technicians by creating an aerospace focused course at our training institute (https://www.lohiagroup.com/technical-institute). We hope to have a team of 200 technicians by the end of first year of production at our Indian facility in 2020.

The aim is to bring in cutting edge aerospace focused manufacturing processes and the relevant training that goes with it into India that help us in moving up the value chain in the aerospace ecosystem.

Digital India

While our production process is labour intensive it is highly digitised with all internal and external communication are online and the facility works in a paperless environment. Every operator will have to be skilled to read technical drawings and manage commands into individual work stations flowing through computer systems. The same holds true for external communications whereby the suppliers, customers and even our sister facility in Israel will be talking to us digitally and completed integrated into one single digital footprint. This is Manufacturing 2.0 at its leanest and most efficient best.

Make in India

We realized and identified the potential of the Aerospace and Defence sector and went about identifying technology gaps that existed in the Indian A&D supply chain. Composites were identified as a market entry product and were a great synergic fit with our capital machinery engineering background.

One of the key reasons for our acquisition was technology support, and we will bring in the relevant technology expertise into India and ‘Make in India’ high-end aerospace composites for both the Indian market requirements and become part of the global supply chain for similar requirements.

Defence programme takes time to fructify. Have you considered this before entering the sector?

Our focus today is to be a quality component supplier for defence primes (Original Equipment Manufacturers); we do not intend to participate in programs as a platform provider. The challenges of the defence sector are what got us excited about the sector, we appreciate and acknowledge the high barriers to entry and the gestation period. Anything worth doing has to be done right and we are willing to stay invested in the business to make it grow on the reputation of quality and time bound deliveries. The challenges are both internal and external; developing the right processes and quality standards, adhering to delivery timelines, cost pressures (except the cost of labour, everything is more expensive in India than the western world – Cost of capital, land, logistics, etc), fighting perceptions, breaking into mature markets globally, etc.

However, we look forward to creating a success story of our foray into the A&D business and are excited about the journey ahead.

Have you identified any projects in the sector before announcing your acquisition of the Israel based company?

We are in continuous discussions with various Original Equipment Manufacturers to participate in their on-going or future programs. Our recently acquired company in Israel is already a tier 1 supplier to the Israeli aerospace and defence industry and our launch customer from our planned Indian facility will also be Israel.

Why did you choose to announce this ahead of Aero India? Are you going to be present there?

It is just a happy coincidence that we are announcing prior of the air show. As I am sure you are aware the process of a cross border transaction is fairly complicated and especially in a relatively new geography of Israel (where are not many Indian companies present). We had completed the negotiations and signed a definitive agreement with Light & Strong Limited in November of last year; however the process of closure of the transaction took another 3 months to complete. We have last week been able to successfully complete the transaction.

We will be attending the show but unfortunately due to time constraints (of planning for the show) we will not be exhibiting at the show. There is no other major announcement planned at the show.

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