Indradev Babu, Founder & MD, UCAM India Pvt Ltd

Success is not difficult to find, but sometimes, we don’t show the courage to take risks and wait for opportunities to knock on our door. The success of UCAM India Pvt Ltd is a story of a courageous effort by Indradev Babu, Founder & MD, UCAM India Pvt Ltd. He not only took the courage to take a risk, but also found the key to the door that led him to opportunities.

In the early 90s, when CNC had not completely made its way through the Indian Machine tool industry, Indradev started a company that manufactured Rotary Table for all CNC applications with the limited resources he had. From a very humble beginning to becoming India’s largest Rotary Table manufacturers with a long list of proud customers UCAM has certainly come a long way.

It was a pleasure talking to Indradev Babu and learning about his inspiring journey, trends in the industry and his future plans. Excerpts:-

Please tell us about your Journey…
I started my career at Bharat Electronics Ltd and worked there for eight years before starting a small job shop to supply engineering manufactured parts and components during 1990s. In those days it was tough to get business. I had very limited experience of business and had no mentors to guide me. I had to struggle a lot; soon I realized that manufacturing parts is not my forte and I need to do something different.

After a sequence of events, I started manufacturing some critical parts of CNC machine. During early to mid 90s I saw a ray of hope with CNC Rotary Table development and Manufacture, but the road was not easy. To get acceptability in the market I had to face several questions like who are you? What have you done before? How can we trust your product on our Machine? Etc. Availability of certain parts that goes into the making of a Rotary Table and finance was also not easy to acquire. But step-by-step and with experience we started tasting success. During 2000 and 2003 we launched the newer version of Rotary Table with several improvements. The market was also picking up and there from there it was no looking back.

Orders started coming in and we moved to Peenya and from there to on to Dobaspet, facility. Today, CNC indexing Rotary Table is our key product and we hold a major share in the Indian market. CNC Rotary Table is perceived to be highly technical equipment both by the CNC manufacturers and users. We are a technology driven company and do not shy away from looking at design and manufacturing activities in an unconventional way.

We are very focused on our R&D activities. Our In-house R&D is recognized by the Department of Science and Industrial Research (DSIR).

In India, we have major OEMs like ACE Manufacturing, BFW, Jyoti CNCs our customers and serve all the Indian machine tool OEMs. Apart from this, we also have a long list of customers in automotive industry as well like TVS, BOSCH and Foundation Breaks to name a few. Internationally we serve companies like Porta Transfer, Avia, Pentamac, Mollart, and Fagima, among others.

That’s a very inspiring journey Mr Babu. What are the key elements that helped you achieve this feat? What advice would you give to the budding entrepreneurs?
I would say there are three factors that helped us:-

  • Understanding customers: We work very closely with our customers and understand their challenges. Always try to come up with products that can help them attain higher productivity. Having said this, I would agree that we still have a lot to learn and grow. In any business it’s very important to take care of the customer’s needs. You take care of their need and they will take care of your business.
  • Differentiating ourselves: If you continue to do what others are doing, sooner or later you will be out of the market. So it’s very important to differentiate yourself from your peers and come up with innovative solutions. Throughout our journey we have always had different approach in developing products and entering new markets, that’s why we have been able to launch technologies before our competitors.
  • Persistency: To attain success in business one has to be persistent and passionate about what they do. There will be challenges but the one who is persistent will find a way out and machine tool industry is no exception.

What are the latest product innovations at UCAM?
There are many things that we are working on constantly and launching new products. We are relentlessly working on products which are more compact, faster and more reliable and provided with a plethora of accessories around it so that the Rotary Table becomes powerful. Most of our Rotary Tables go in the Machining Centre. On a Machining Centre, the worktable space available for the customer can be limited by the Rotary Table unless it is Compact.

Looking at the current Machine Tool Consumption, it can be said that there is good demand for high speed and high efficiency Rotary Tables. UCAM has developed an innovative Direct Drive Rotary Table. They reduce the component machining cycle time significantly and are known for their high speed. UCAM is also focused on bringing new integrated 5 axis machining solutions like Cantilever Tables, Direct Drive Tilting Head, Deep Tilting Direct Drive Tables and the Large Size Rotary Tables for the machine tool builders across the globe.

UCAM has also launched newly two different units, Nimble Electric and Nimble Machines.

Under Nimble Electric, we offer high performance Motor Technology for the machines. Recently we have developed a motor called Milton. With the help of Milton one can move the table with high rpm for Turning and low rpm for Milling purposes. Apart from machine tools, at Nimble Electric we are also serving customers in aerospace and defence industry.

Coming to Nimble Machines, under this brand we manufacture 6 axis CNC Gear Hobbing machines. Positive response has been received from the market for these machines and several are satisfactorily working at Customer places.

You recently started a greenfield facility in Dobbaspet. Tell us more about the facility…
The facility is spread across 7 acres of land that we acquired from Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB). It boasts of two large buildings of which one building has two hangers one above the other. The Building with two hangers is completely used for all our CNC Rotary Table manufacturing. The Large Rotary Table Hanger with 15,000 sq. ft. built-up area has a capacity to accommodate 5m x 5m Rotary Table with 5m Linear Axis and comes with the 25+15 Ton EOT Crane facility. The Small Rotary Table Hanger with the built-up area of 45,000 sq. ft. has a capacity to produce 2000 small Rotary Tables per annum.

After moving to the new facility we have improved our productivity and delivery. This facility is ready for further expansion as a huge chunk of land is still not utilized. We have space to double the capacity; we have witnessed about 30% growth after we moved to this facility and foresee a good growth in the future.

What kind of growth do you see in the next five years?
If we have to grow steadily we have to acquire larger share in the international market which itself is very challenging. There is a very low acceptance of India make products in developed markets especially for high-tech products like Rotary Tables, though our product quality is at par or exceeds that of some international players. But, we see a comfortable 20% growth in future. However, we have larger targets.

UCAM is known for its Rotary Tables, why did you decide to manufacture machines and also launch 6-axis Gear Hobbing Machine?
It’s very interesting. We were forced to build the machine to manufacture worm wheel for our own Rotary Tables. While building the machine we got a good learning experience and were able to realize the benefit. We had developed a high-end machine. After analyzing the market and demand we thought of introducing this machine in to the market.

What Percentage of your sales comes from export?
It varies between 20-25%, but honestly it should be 50% and we are working hard to achieve that. Most of this comes from the European market.

There is a buzz about the smart technologies, IoT and Industry 4.0. How you are keeping track of these trends?There are two aspects to it. Making machine intelligent and utilizing this information for predictive and preventive analysis. IoT will certainly make much of impact on the industry. In India it’s now in a nascent stage. For IoT to be fully be acceptable in India, everyone in the eco-system has to be prepared for it. We can certainly supply machines with all the sensors and smart technologies but the user should be ready to take the advantages of these improvements.

So, we have clear cut plan and quite capable of delivering IoT enabled products but making it usable by the customers is a challenge that we are working on. But I am sure, as the industry will grow, these technologies will find its place in the Indian shop floor.

Your future plans…
As you know we have three business divisions. Rotary Table business is the key and our strength and it will continue to be so. The machine tool business (Gear Hobbing Machine) will certainly grow as we see huge potential. The motor business too, has huge potential to grow and we are planning to come up with newer technologies in the future to tap the market. To sum it up, we will continue to innovate and come up with better solutions in coming years as well.

By Nishant Kashyap