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Nov 5, 2013 (3 years and 5 months ago)

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“At LMW, we do not sell machines, we offer
solutions”




The last couple of years has witnessed one of the worst phases of recession in the Indian
textile industry. It all started in 2011 with the fluctuation in cotton prices, which severely
affected the

textile mills. Added to this is the power shortage in the South, more
particularly in Tamil Nadu, which dealt a severe blow to the industry.

Lakshmi Machine Works (LMW) was no exception. In 2012
-
13, the company recorded an
overall turnover of Rs. 1,86,432
.75 lakhs (2011
-
12: Rs. 2,07,249.19 lakhs) resulting in a net
profit of Rs. 17,068.97 lakhs before tax (2011
-
12: Rs. 22,339.40 lakhs). The Textile Machinery
Division (TMD) recorded a turnover of Rs. 1,62,879.57 lakhs as against Rs. 1,75,329.51 lakhs
achiev
ed in the previous year, a drop of 7.10 per cent.

But companies like LMW have gone through such phases many times in the past. The company
has used this time effectively in understanding customer requirements and challenges, went back
to the drawing board
and worked on each of these aspects to ensure improved efficiency,
enhanced productivity and cut in operational cost. We look into some of the areas that the
company has focused as part of its customer
-
oriented initiatives.


Enhancing productivity

With in
creasing real estate cost, new projects are getting more expensive. The component of land
and building costs are increasing, hence the company had to come up with solutions that could
make their equipments leaner and more productive within the available sp
ace.

LMW altered the design of its carding machines, making it possible for the new machines with
high productivity to occupy the same space. The company increased the productivity of its lap
formers, making it possible for fewer machines to give the same
output. The speed frames now
accommodate 200 spindles per machine as against 140 spindles earlier. Finally LMW has
reconfigured its new ring frame to occupy 10 per cent lower floor space. All these initiatives
have resulted in significant savings in floor
space for customers.

Automation

The Indian textile industry has been plagued with the problem of non
-
availability of skilled
manpower. This is a problem that companies will continue to face, and the only solution was to
make machines intelligent and progre
ssively less dependant on people. Realising the increasing
need for automation in its equipments, LMW has introduced automated bale plucking machines
(for large and small volume requirements), which increases productivity and requires fewer
people to maint
ain.

The company has designed electronically
-
controlled carding machines with the highest number
of working flats. It has also enhanced automation in its breaker draw frames, which has increased
productivity by making it possible for one person to address
more machines at any given time. It
has fully automated its speed frames and ring frames with auto doffers to save manpower
requirement. The result is that through increased automation, LMW has made it possible for a
team of just 50 persons per shift to ma
nage a 50,000
-
spindle unit.


Service and maintenance

The textile industry as we all know is capital intensive. Most of the mills run the machines 24/7
to ensure faster payback on their investment. Every hour of stoppage due to repairs and
maintenance cost
s the company very heavily and can sometimes erode profitability.

LMW has been very focused on this aspect to ensure that the machines require least maintenance
ensuring maximum uptime resulting in enhanced revenues and profitability for its customers.
The

company has strengthened its back
-
end systems and procedures to support the customers.

LMW has created a detailed SOP for quality assurance


from raw material to finished goods and
for loading/unloading machines. The company has initiated a dry run for a
ll machines and sub
-
assemblies before dispatch as a preventive action. It has also institutionalised the audit of every
package leaving the company to ensure that all fitments, sub
-
assemblies, spares and necessities
were provided for smooth commissioning.

The company has provided a comprehensive manual (multi
-
lingual) indicating how prompt
remedial measures could address machine failure. It has also trained customer teams at their
premises followed up with post
-
installation hand
-
holding for seven days.

LMW
has instituted a pre
-

and post
-
installation survey of the customer’s shopfloor to suggest
improvements in machine placement. The company has conducted periodic post
-
installation mill
audits that appraised machine performance and provided spareparts assuran
ce across the residual
machine life.

The company has opened multi
-
communication channels with customers to ensure that it stayed
proximate to customers. It has also opened a call
-
centre for the immediate recording and
redressal of the customer’s technical
and mechanical issues. The company has created an SMS
and web
-
based complaint service through which complaints can be directly routed to engineers
assigned to that machine for time
-
bound responsiveness. Engineers are stationed in regions
proximate to the c
ompany’s installations to address complaint
-
redressal with speed. All this has
resulted in improved service levels and customer confidence.


Faster deliveries

In the textile industry, particularly in spinning, it’s quite common for customers to wait for
12 to
15 months for delivery of machines. Normally the waiting period is quite long. Of course, most
of them are project
-
based. Hence any new project will take 12 to 18 months for build up the
infrastructure and commissioning. Still, the company has been w
orking aggressively to shrink
the delivery schedules.

LMW focused on shortening the mind
-
to
-
market cycle of equipment delivery. The company’s
passion for maximising automation has reduced the machine assembly time. It manufactures all
critical machine comp
onents in
-
house and has modernised mother machines (high
-
end CNC
machines). This has increased productivity of critical parts. The company uses jigs and fixtures
required for fitting sub
-
assemblies and assemblies in order to expedite production.

LMW has im
plemented the ‘Accelerated Competence for Manufacturing Excellence’
programme to help eliminate the non
-
value
-
adding assembly time. The company has
institutionalised the faster dispatch of finished machines. It ensures the on
-
site presence of
technical tea
m before the machines arrived, making it possible for them to be commissioned
without delay. All these measures have optimised delivery cycle.

Investment

As mentioned earlier, the textile industry is capital intensive, involving huge investment. With
slowd
own in the industry and declining margins, customers are looking for ways to optimize
their investments. Keeping this in mind LMW has undertaken process and value
-
engineering
projects to reduce machine costs. The company has re
-
designed components to minim
ise input
material wastages and has increased machine automation and operating speed, which increased
productivity, energy efficiency and worker
-
independence.

The company has provided dry runs on machines selected by customers providing machine
performance

data using multiple
-
fibre variants, making it possible for customers to calculate
their investment returns from operations. The company has also ensured that its active equipment
life was significantly longer than competing variants. LMW has commissioned
a specialised cell
for the analysis of electronic faults and component
-
based repair as opposed to assembly
replacement.

As India prepares to emerge a major spinning hub, there will be a larger number of textile
machinery manufacturers in the country. This
will result in better value proposition for
customers and further growth of the industry.

Recent policy changes in India have extensive implications for the growth of the Indian textile
sector. Similar policy changes in China could lead to India emerging a
s the global spinning hub.
Besides, the extension of loans under TUFS into the 12th Plan, favourable textile policies by
various State Governments and expectation of lower interest rates provide a favourable basis for
the textile industry.

As textile compa
nies increase their investments in India, widening the market for textile
machinery, LMW foresees an increase in competition as well. In this emerging scenario, the
ability to strengthen the customer’s return on investment will be a key deciding factor.