Tooling Tales

Touseef Ahmed Khan, General Manager Sales, S&T Machinery (P) Ltd.

11 Sep 2023  

Touseef Ahmed Khan, General Manager Sales, S&T Machinery (P) Ltd.

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“The surge in demand for 5-axis machines, even within the die and mould sector – a field previously characterised by rarity – has led to the establishment of numerous manufacturing facilities by machine tool builders to cater to these demands,” says Touseef Ahmed Khan, General Manager Sales, S&T Machinery (P) Ltd.

By Nishant Kashyap

 

Can you provide an overview of the die and mould industry in India?
The die and mould market size in India is expected to accelerate at a CAGR of 9% by 2031. The Indian industry’s market size is close to INR 18,000 crore. While 70% of its demands are being met domestically, 30% are being met through imports. The market is fragmented due to the presence of many established vendors holding significant market share. The non-automotive sectors have been meeting a large part of their tooling demand through imports. Quality, cost, and delivery time are some of the major expectations from the user industry with respect to the procurement of the tools.

 

What are the latest developments in CNC machining technology? How can these developments enhance the efficiency of die and toolmakers?
Other than making standard machines, machine tool builders have started developing multi-axis machines, which produce moulds with a significantly reduced cycle time, thereby enhancing productivity. The dependence on high-end automation machines with high speed is higher. While these machines were imported earlier to meet the manufacturing requirements, today, most of these machines are manufactured domestically, leading to reduced dependence on imports. The surge in demand for 5-axis machines, even within the die and mould sector – a field previously characterised by rarity – has led to the establishment of numerous manufacturing facilities by machine tool builders to cater to these demands.

The die and mould industry’s requirement for high-speed machines has prompted the creation of machines with elevated precision and spindle speeds. The challenge posed by larger components has been addressed through the development of double-column machines featuring multi-angled heads, significantly enhancing productivity. This innovation allows for multiple-face operations to be executed within a single setup, further amplifying efficiency.

 

How has IIoT influenced the CNC machining landscape?
There are several key areas where the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can take on a significant and decisive role in CNC machining. They are: 

  • Machine utilisation: IIoT’s most prominent role in CNC machining is increasing machine utilisation. With connected devices either added to the existing equipment or embedded into new machines, manufacturers can accurately identify and act on downtime issues.
  • Maintenance strategies: With IIoT, CNC companies can move from preventive to predictive maintenance strategies. IIoT sensors and advanced-edge computing enable maintenance teams to unlock machine performance and condition data to inform when maintenance activity should occur. With real-time machine condition data, manufacturers can set up workflows and notifications in machine metrics to automatically alert the right person when a machine goes down. Further, you can set up thresholds (a given temperature, vibration, load, etc.) that, when met, create a work order in a CMMS, preventing downtime altogether.
  • Productivity and efficiency: Because IIoT technology eliminates manual data collection across the shop floor, operators have the ability to focus on higher-value tasks, like managing more machines. Additionally, since the production data is autonomously collected, managers can have confidence that the data is accurate. Machine metrics track the overall equipment effectiveness and consider variables that impact everything, from operator performance to maintenance to continuous improvement initiatives. As equipment utilisation goes up, so do efficiency and productivity.

 

Are there any notable trends or emerging technologies in CNC machining that you believe will have a significant impact on die and mould professionals in India?
Yes, I believe that there are two notable trends or emerging technologies in CNC machining that will have a significant impact on die and mould professionals in India. They are:

  • Automation: From creating product moulds to assembly line design, automation is increasing productivity and limiting human error for many tool and die manufacturers.
  • 3D Printing: This is another trend that has grown over the years, particularly in the manufacturing space. This form of printing allows exact designs and precise specifications to be replicated at a quicker pace, lower price, and with increased accuracy. Metal 3D-printed parts are becoming more mainstream as a cost-effective measure among major manufacturing companies.

 

In your opinion, what are the key factors contributing to the growth and adoption of CNC machines in the die and mould industry in India?
The tooling market is directly affected by the fluctuations and developments occurring within the end-user industries. In India, the automotive industry consumes over 60 per cent of the total tool production. Tool production has been witnessing tremendous growth ever since the automotive industry made a strong comeback in 2022.

The growing demands for lightweight electric vehicles, safety & security norms, and the focus on localisation are some of the trends, which are driving the demand for toolmakers. For instance, the increase in consumption of consumer electrical and electronic (E&E) devices is driving the growth of the tooling market to sustain the high-production demand for E&E device manufacturers.

The escalating demand for light commercial vehicles (LCVs) around the world on account of the inflating global oil prices is positively influencing the market too. Furthermore, key market players are focusing on different varieties of tool production in the automotive industry. They are also focusing on expanding their product portfolio to offer more economical products. The burgeoning plastic industry and new developments in biodegradable polymer material are offering a positive outlook to industry investors.

 

What would you say should be the main considerations for die and mould professionals when choosing CNC machines for specific applications?
Precision, efficiency, and reliability are paramount for die and mould professionals. STM, a leading CNC machine manufacturer, understands their needs. Our cutting-edge CNC machines offer unparalleled precision and accuracy, while their robust designs ensure stability and consistency. With high spindle speeds and advanced tooling options, our machines optimise cutting speed and productivity. Usually, it is preferable to look for excellent repeatability and tight tolerances, as they ensure consistent results for intricate designs. User-friendly interfaces (CAD/CAM) and programming languages make operation seamless, accommodating professionals of all expertise levels. From ample work envelopes to compatibility with diverse materials, our CNC machines provide flexibility and versatility. Backed by exceptional technical support, STM guarantees minimised downtime and exceptional RoI.

 

Looking ahead, how do you envision the future of CNC machining in the die and mould industry in India? Are there any upcoming developments or initiatives we should be excited about?
The die and mould industry is one of the major contributors to the Indian economy. Dies and moulds are pivotal for industries like packaging, plastics, auto components, electronics, electrical, machine tools, etc. Driven by our latest developments―the VL, VD, VG, VR, and DL series―the STM manufacturing unit of the S&T Group envisions a greater future for CNC machining in the die & mould industry in India.
Our VL series with belt-drive technology ensures exceptional precision and versatility, while the VD series, equipped with direct-drive technology, promises high-speed, and high-precision machining. The VG series is tailored for graphite applications, and our VR series is designed for mass production with rotary capabilities, offering high speed and feed rates.

 

This interview was first published on TAGMA Times Newsletter

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