Aatmanirbhar Bharat: How one of India’s oldest engineering companies is helping industries go vocal for local
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagging off the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign last year with the clarion call for going “vocal for local,” Indian businesses and entrepreneurs have been looking to substitute imports and focus on India’s self-reliance with homegrown products.
Riding this wave is one of India’s oldest cutting and engineering tools company – Birla Precision Technologies Limited (BPTL).
BPTL has been developing new heavyweight engineering products required by various Indian industries, and helps them reduce dependence on imports.
Vedant Birla, Chairman and MD, BPTL, tells SMBStory:
“We have taken the PM’s call for Atmanirbhar Bharat seriously and have stepped up production, primarily in the drill segment where there was a huge influx of cheaper, low-quality tools from China. We invested Rs 45-50 crore to expand this line which will help the hardware and agriculture industries in India.”
He adds that BPTL has also reduced its own dependence on imported raw materials, and has “almost wholly switched to indigenous sources.”
A pioneer in manufacturing industrial and engineering tools for auto components, the business is looking to pave the way forward for growth and sustenance of the domestic market through indigenous manufacturing and supply.
Legacy of manufacturing
Established in 1937, BPTL is based in Maharashtra and is headquartered in Mumbai. Its roots stem from the Birla group’s founding father Raja Baldeo Das Birla, whose legacy has led locally subsistent Birla companies to transform into global manufacturing businesses, and put India on the map across sectors.
BPTL has four manufacturing plants: one in Nashik and three in Aurangabad. Two of these units were set up through joint ventures with Kennametal USA and Perucchini Italy. The company currently has about 1,500 employees.
Vedant says, “At our units, we manufacture and supply high-speed steel cutting tools, tool holders and work holding devices for domestic and global markets. We make drills, AT3 toolholders, collets, reamers, and angular heads. For the industrial and auto segment, we make various engine components, fuel injection systems, braking systems, etc.”
Domestically, BPTL operates eleven branch offices in major metros, with 50 sales engineers and over 500 distributors. Its major global markets are the USA, and countries in Europe and the Middle East.
Hathyar range and surviving lockdown
Before the pandemic, Vedant and his company envisioned a product line for agricultural purposes, with the focus to help the sector leverage indigenous manpower and raw material to become self-reliant. Naming the product line ‘Hathyar’, BPTL launched a range of tools that can also be used in carpentry, masonry, marble cutting, etc
Vedant says, “The aim behind the launch of this product line was to strengthen Aatmanirbhar Bharat sentiments by establishing a branded player into segments, which are otherwise dominated by cheaper imports.”
BPTL’s emphasis on building for Bharat has helped it survive a tumultuous period during the lockdown. Vedant claims the business clocked a net profit of Rs 3 crore each in the quarters ending September 2020 and December 2020.
Although BPTL’s profits are lower than that of the same period in FY20, it nevertheless turned profitable despite the economic downturn. As per its P&L statement for FY20, BPTL recorded sales turnover of Rs 173.5 crore.
Vedant explains, “This has happened in spite of lockdown, as COVID-19 has forced more consumers to go out and buy automobiles. They prefer to travel in the safety of their personal vehicles, rather than take public transport. This has made the auto market go into an upsurge, which has, in turn, increased the demand for Birla Precision’s products.”
The road ahead
India’s manufacturing sector is required to grow in double digits on a sustained basis to achieve the vision of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025. It has the potential to contribute 20 percent towards the goal and reach $1 trillion in size by 2025, according to an IBEF report.
BPTL is looking to remain a key player in enabling such growth across manufacturing sectors. It is planning to continue putting up recyclable plants and automation processes in its foundry division, as well as CNC machine upgrades in its tool holder division. Internationally, it is looking to expand its global footprint.
Besides BPTL, several top engineering and industrial component makers such as Bharat Electronics, AIA Engineering, Thermax, and more are poised to play a role in this growth.
Vedant, admitting that the journey won’t be as simple as it seems, says, “A major challenge we face is the risk of China further decreasing their selling prices to counteract any additional push by Indian manufacturers.”
He adds, “Another challenge could arise with the COVID-19 pandemic playing out longer or different than what is expected, and leading to dampening sentiments and decreased demand for our products.”
Edited by Kanishk Singh