Marquardt products are used by many well-known automobile manufacturers and their systems are also found in household appliances and other industrial applications.
Ran Bahadur Singh, CEO, who looks after the business unit of Marquardt in India shares an overview on the company, “This is a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of Marquardt GmbH, Germany, a switch making company. Our switch ensures that there is no failure. Under Kellermann, we gave the first eye opening briefing to Tata Motors on the importance of a switch that never fails. Marquardt is making the Indian OEMs aware of high quality switches. In fact for one of the complex switches, we have received an order from Tata Motors. For that, Marquardt are stepping up their very small location at Mumbai. We have our R&D base at Pune wherein we have 160 engineers which was inaugurated in March 2015. These engineers are being trained on German technology in order to develop cost-competitive products for Indian customers while also supporting Marquardt globally.”
Mahesh Kandpal, Head Pune location, comments, “At this location, Marquardt has a combination of a tech centre with 160 engineers, which is expected to be increased to nearly 200 by the year end. These engineers are working for global projects for customers like Daimler, Chrysler, GM, etc. Marquardt also has a local team working for local customers. The strategy has been to build a competent centre in India, expand it to a team of 400 engineers. For this, the company is also looking for space to expand and put up the plant at Pune.”
Hans Kellermann, COO, Marquardt Group, says, “I have been the COO of this group for the past one-and-half-years, but have worked for 15 years with this company and more than 30 years with automotive segment in Europe and America. As Singh mentioned, we are here to build up on the base in Mumbai which is owned by us since 1996. We started in India about 10 years ago to accelerate on the automotive side to visit the customers. We want to utilise India in two aspects, i.e., on the resource side in terms of people for doing engineering work and second, production from our Mumbai facility for the local market. Overall, Marquardt has passed Euro one billion in sales last year globally. We have grown over the past 20 years by more than 10 per cent organically every year.”
What is the business level in India?
All new coaches which are being run in India started with Common Wealth Games have Marquardt switches in the front panel. Next lot has gone to the new mini trucks, military buses by Tata, and in the complete range of BharatBenz trucks Marquardt is present in the front panel. Daimler is one of the fastest growing truck supplier in India, where the company is present 100 per cent for switches. Further, in most cases of premium trucks and buses (Oyster buses) by Ashok Leyland, Marquardt is also present in all their new products launched for Dubai and Arab countries.
While Marquardt is a Tier I supplier, the company also supply to Mahindra for its SUV to the extent of 400,000 switches a year. The company has recently associated with Fiat India for which this facility is being upgraded.
The company has also associated with Tata Motors for all their platforms for keyless door entry system what Marquardt calls as passive entry and passive start. Next year, the Jeep Cherokee will be launched with the steering wheel switches. While we are at pre-engagement stage with other customers.
How do you propose to overcome the challenges of acceptance and adaption of your high-end technologies in India?
Most of the switches today are electronic. Marquardt has specialised production line and has own way of doing it in Germany. There has been a scarcity of such products in India. Of course, with companies like Tata the company has it. Maquardt wanted to produce in India or outsourced from here through some shortlisted suppliers. The company’s aim is to upgrade them to the desired standards. The company in simple electronic parts are taking from them for past one-and-half-years but still they are not up to the desired level. While Maquardt is doing this development, their focus is to bring the price down and then the company can convince the cutomer. Indian environment is changing. Especially, the young people who are mobile and computer savvy have started understanding and demanding the products. Maquardt has been supplying successfully in India for the past eight years. There are two aspects to it. The product has electronics inside and must work as there is no room to fail. Second, if this is given, this kind of convenience for a vehicle will certainly be upgraded for functionality, displays by using Maquardt's steering switches. It looks good, it is convenient and the company thinks that in India, this kind of convenience will convince the customers.
What are the challenges you foresee in terms of duplication?
Maquardt upgrades the product so fast that others follow Maquardt or left behind. That is how Marquardt has retained leadership. The company's investment in R&D is very high. Unlike others, Maquardt has first brought its R&D centre in India in a big way and then moved towards manufacturing. This is the continuous strategy. So people copy and Maquardt is not worried about this.
How have you adapted your products to meet all the extreme climatic challenges in India, like summer, winter, rains, dust and altitude?
Maquardt is supplying the products for vehicles like Mercedes and Audi, which are sold in Alaska and Brazil in the Amazon, Arizona in the desert. The specifications of the products fullfill the requirements for all these extreme conditions. Maquardt has a long legacy of experience in developing, testing and proving that in these environments the product can sustain. It is one of the USPs. As practical example, this is one reason why Maquardt is 100 per cent with Daimler and why do they do not want to localise when the same switch is locally available at one-fourth the cost. Mercedes specifies a durability of one million cycles without fail while the local suppliers give 100,000 or at best 200,000 cycles. As such, Maquardt is automatically the preferred choice for them.
Maquardt's switches are designed for beyond vehicle life. Even when the vehicle is dead, the switches are still operational. Maquardt is specialised in IP side to prevent air or dust or water getting inside. The IP standard is IP 67/68. That is why Maquardt can guide the OEMs that the company's product by itself can withstand these extreme conditions.
Does Marquardt provide switches based on nanotechnology?
Maquardt is associated with IFB for their appliances. If water comes in the product, Maquardt will first measure the dirt in the same, then it measures the dirt content after the clothes have been put in the washing machine. On that basis the sensor will decide how much soap is needed, how much rinsing is to be done to clean the clothes automatically. Maquardt is supplying these kinds of switches globally. With IFB, Maquardt has an NDA in place and the company is progressing further to secure the business. From there onwards, Maquardt is in the complex switches for cars. “On a futuristic note, we are working on battery management systems and we are far ahead of the competition. Today technology is a big factor and we have taken care of the same,” Kellerman says.
For your plant set up in India, are you following the concept of Industry 4.0 in the manufacturing processes?
Yes, that concept is the basic aim. Maquardt's products are using the full extent of line tester which is collecting data, traceability where one can trace back from where the component came from and this is standard. Maquardt has first installed a server by investing Rs 5 crore which is connected to any supplier sitting anywhere and carry a component record in this server. In case there is any issue in that line, Maquardt straightaway knows and even the vendor also knows. Maquardt has worked on this kind of concept.
What is your vision 2020 for Marquardt India?
Kellermann shares, “By 2020, we want to be present with more advanced and sophisticated products on the premium side. We want to manufacture those products here. As the business grows, we are looking at a larger facility in India. We will be part of Make in India initiative. We plan to invest Euro 10 million during this period and are targeting India sales around Euro15-16 million.” He further states, “We see that automotive business is picking up here. There are 2-3 OEMs with whom we are not yet participated. Therefore, we see a lot of opportunities here in India and the need for a lot of premium cars and the continuity of OEMs exporting these vehicles which should give some extra boost to our high-end products.”