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Laminating for Success


| June 2, 2017, 3:38 PM IST

Eddy current might seem like a cute name for something nice and easy; but it really isn’t. Basically it is a localized electric current induced in a conductor by a varying magnetic field. It is these currents that are responsible for the movement of the motor, the rotary unit within a machine like say a locomotive or a wind power turbine.  In essence, Eddy currents are pervasive in almost every machinery that has a moving (circular) motor at its core.

Yet, there is a bit of theoretical problem with iron core motors that rotate in accordance with Lenz law on the magnetism generated along with Eddy currents. The plates need to move in a frictionless environment, else the output would be low and the heat generated would be more. This is why these plates need to be laminated, to make them more efficient.  And this is where Pitti Laminations comes in the picture.

Founded in 1983, Pitti Laminations is India's largest and most reputed manufacturer of electrical steel laminations, motor cores, die-cast rotors and other engineering tools. Long before ‘Make in India’ was a calling mantra, Pitti Laminations was the first company to foray into this complex manufacturing space. And it was also the first company to be certified as an ISO 9002 Company way back in year 1993.

Growth in collaboration

But its path to success was not exactly a cakewalk.  Considering its expertise and the sector, there was limited scope of growth in a country where agriculture and services still accounted for a lion’s share of the GDP. The big turning point for the company came in 2003. By sheer serendipity, the company which was clocking a turnover of $20 mn chanced upon a requirement in an e-tender by GE Transportation on an electrical steel lamination project in North America.  Its 20-year experience and heavy investment in technology saw the company bag the prestigious project. And the rest is history.

Since then Pitti Laminations' association with GE has grown from strength to strength. With constant support and guidance from GE, the product portfolio enabled Pitti Laminations to grow from a single product company with over 70 offerings today. Likewise, the revenues too grew five-fold to over $100 million. The company which started its association with the locomotive project of GE Transportation is now closely with GE’s other arms -- GE Power and GE Renewable Energy.

The credit for this symbiotic growth is credited to high standards of transparency and communications as practiced by GE, says Akshay Pitti, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Pitti Laminations.  Adding further he says how the forecasting of demand by GE in a transparent manner helps suppliers like him to moderate capacities and capabilities and be in a position to react to the market rather than follow it.

"The clarity of communication that GE gives to its suppliers is truly great. This is especially true when you look at the set of tools that GE uses to engage with its suppliers, the primary being the Supply Collaboration portal. The best thing about the portal is that we can log in, see the forecast for the next 12 month," explains Pitti.

For India in India

Now, if 2003 was a turning point for Pitti Laminations, 2016 would easily be a watershed year. With GE Transportation landing the biggest ever outsourcing deal from Indian Railways to supply and maintain 1000 diesel locomotives, Pitti Laminations, in a strange karmic way, makes a big Indian play. For all these years, it is the overseas market that has been the primary playground for Pitti Lamination.

But thanks to its association with GE Transportation, Pitti Laminations will play a major role in the railway project. The company has already completed the development cycle for over 25 components for the Indian diesel locomotive deal. This is especially impressive, as the components were designed and manufactured for the first time in India.

"The 25 components that we worked on for the India locomotive deal were designed in a record time. I think that’s a very proud accomplishment for us. In just eight months, we were able to develop 25 new products which had never been designed. They were all red-line drawings, so we worked with GE Engineering; and as we were developing the components, we had to keep adapting to the design changes and still come out on top and deliver 25 new components in a record time. As the locomotive design evolved, we had to constantly alter the product. Yet, this was a seamless process, as every time GE Transportation made changes, we were right there with them communicating on a daily basis, taking the design changes and incorporating that into our product development cycles, and delivering the components to them. We are proud to be one of largest suppliers for the diesel loco deal," says Pitti.

As per the filings made to the Bombay Stock Exchange, the deal between Pitti Laminations and GE to supply various parts used in locomotives is valued at about ₹500 crore. The duration of the agreement is up to 2030.

For an Indian manufacturing company that had to look overseas for sustenance and growth, the Make in India program has been like a whiff of fresh air.

The good thing about Pitti Laminations is that as it has grown in size, so has its ambition. Today, the company is well underway on an exercise to transform itself digitally. The company is already in the process of implementing an enterprise resource planning solution at its place, and looks to ramp it up further over the years.  Currently the Hyderabad-based company employs more than 2000 employees, with almost a quarter dedicated to GE projects.

The road ahead for Pitti Laminations is quite encouraging as the company is constantly expanding its capabilities and product portfolios. With the government of the day giving a big boost to manufacturing sector, a specialised company like Pitti Laminations would immensely benefit. All in all Eddy currents seem to be favouring this Indian company for sure.





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