Vikas Khanvelkar, Managing Director, DesignTech Systems Ltd

How has CAD/CAM evolved with the growing demand for speed and productivity?
CAD/CAM technology evolution and its demand in India have come a long way. The technology made its way into the Indian market in the late 90s. In those days, these software’s were considered to be suitable for the MNCs who could afford them. They were expensive not just infrastructural set-up wise, but training adequate number of employees to use these software was also not possible for many, hence were expensive for the SMEs.

Apart from this, moving from the conventional and strongly trusted drawing board methods of product designing also took efforts and time. Companies like DeisgnTech have invested lot of efforts in making the SMEs aware of these technologies and the benefits they offer. With time, the popularity of the CAD/CAM/CAE software has grown and is widely adopted by SME’s across India.

The SMEs understood the benefits that these software’s can provide in terms of robust and aesthetically appealing product development in lesser times and costs.

Please share  some of the latest technology developments…
Advanced rapid prototyping machines, for example, offering from Stratasys known as DDM (Direct Digital manufacturing) that enables you to create parts that can be used for the end use; Digital manufacturing solutions that help companies carry out plant design activities by configuring ideal workflow for better through put, advanced 3D CAD and CAE technologies that promise around 95-98% accuracy in product design simulation and analysis are some of the latest technologies that have taken the industry by storm.

What are your views on awareness of Indian SMEs in terms of automation? What are the challenges you face dealing with the industry?
Large number of Indian SMEs are not yet ready to accept automation solutions. They have access to low cost manpower and prefer to depend on them. The major challenge while dealing with SMEs is the initial cost of automation and maintenance. Many SMEs are hard pressed for funds and cannot afford such investments.

What sort of demands do you see in the CAD/CAM industry, particularly in India?
Indian CAD/CAM industry is growing steadily. CAE, PLM and Digital Manufacturing solutions are gaining ground and this is contributing to the overall growth of this segment. With various MNCs having put up their captive R&D and design centers in India, it has resulted in the increasing usage of CAD/CAE/PLM as well as with their vendors. We expect this trend to continue in the next few years.

What are the emerging sectors for CAD/CAM solution providers?
CAD/CAM products were typically used for areas like mechanical engineering and consumer product development, but today the use of these products have increased drastically. Medical is one such emerging sector which has huge opportunity for CAD/CAM solution providers. From dental to knee cap replacement and modern medical equipment CAD/CAM is used in many applications. Dental labs have started using prototyping machines to create a prototype of dentures; also doctors have started using this technology for knee surgeries where they create a prototype of a knee cap to check if it fits well.

Another sector, though is not new but is emerging in big way is education. Today many engineering colleges and institutes are augmenting their infrastructural investments to train the students on latest technologies which include CAD/CAM.

What kind of solutions are the customers looking for?
Customers are looking for solutions which can help them retain their product design knowledge, reduce product design costs and product development cycle time. They expect good technology and product support from the vendor and wish to have lower cost of ownership.

How was 2013 for Designtech? What were the challenges faced and what are your expectations from 2014?
Due to the economic downturn and shrinking industrial output, the first few months of 2013 posed as quite a challenge. However, the market started showing some sign of revival towards the end and hence companies like ours, whose business is directly dependent on how OEMs flare and perform found new hope and opportunities.

We were not sure to meet our expectations in numbers and better our turnover when compared to that of the previous year, but we hope the coming months will be much better. The situation does not look as bleak and dim as it earlier appeared to be. We are expecting the trend of second half of 2013 to continue in 2014 as well. Though at a slow rate, the economy is expected to improve.

Future plan for the Indian market?
Our future plan for the Indian Market includes setting up of CAD Academy Network across India. We have already commenced working on the same. We have 3 centers active and going strong in Pune and Gurgaon. DesignTech CAD Academy, the education wing of DesignTech is an authorised training partner of Siemens for their CAD and Altair for their CAE suite of solutions and we provide training on their licensed software through certified trainers.

We also wish to pioneer the use of Digital Manufacturing and PLM solutions amongst the SME segment in India by offering them quick and result oriented implementation so that they can become globally competitive.