Stefan Steenstrup, President, Dormer Pramet

Dormer Pramet brings together a program of rotary and indexable tooling with more than 150 years of industry experience. In an engaging conversation with Nishant Kashyap; Stefan Steenstrup, President, Dormer Pramet, shares his thoughts on changing dynamics of cutting tool business, new technologies, Industrie4.0 concept, electric vehicles along with his plans for the Indian market.

Tell us about the latest technologies from Dormet Pramet and its impact on the application industry…Dormet Pramet is full line cutting tool supplier and that’s what makes us unique. We start from HSS drills for the typical applications in MRO or general machining industries and go across a lot of cutting tools like round tools, taps, endmills, solid carbide. Also, we have an insert range for applications like turning, milling and drilling to serve specific industries.

We serve some niche industries like heavy industries and Railways. Railways is a big focus segment for us, where we have developed a lot of technologies lately like dynamic rail milling technology. When we talk about repairing rails that have already been laid, it’s usually done by grinding application. We have developed a milling solution where one can mill the tracks as the locomotives move along, that’s an interesting technology and we see high potential in this. Apart from this, we are very strong in indexable milling as well.

When it comes to coatings and grades we are way ahead of our competitors. It’s very important to find the right grades, the right combination of the powder and the coatings, and the micro-geometry on tool and inserts. We invest a lot in R&D activities to develop new geometries, coating etc. to provide sustainable and reliable tool life.

Tell us about your R&D activities
In the first week of September 2017, we inaugurated our new Experience Center, which is our new R&D facility in Czech Republic with manpower of 40 people for now. We are doing a lot of work in micro geometries, grades, coatings and milling concepts. We spend about 2% of our turnover in R&D activities.

How have the cutting tool solutions evolved over the years and how does the future look like?
The role of electronics is constantly increasing in the cutting tool industry.  There are sensors getting integrated into cutting tools which are helping manufacturers in taking better decisions related to their production. I think industrie4.0 will take some time to become mainstream but it will certainly happen and many players are working in these areas already.

Dormer Pramet is not behind, taking the space in the commercial digitalization on how will the procurement processes change; we are working from manufacturing to procurement. Industry4.0 is not only about what happens in the production unit but also how you get your tools and the procurement chain digitalized. We are focusing on how to support our customers while finding, selecting, buying and getting the right tool digitally.

The B2B industry is shifting towards e-commerce, so not only the procurement but e-commerce is also witnessing changes. It has a lot to do with Generation Y of course, with the increase of young talent in the industry, everything is happening on the internet we see a good growth in e-commerce as well.

The inception of electric cars in Automotive Sector reduces the part manufacturing drastically. Do you think it is a concern for cutting tool manufacturers in general? How are you keeping yourself prepared for that?
It can be a concern in the long term, if we look purely from a cutting tool business perspective. Of course, from an energy perspective it’s a very good thing to happen to the environment. However, it will take time for automotive industry to become fully electric. In the meantime, there will be a shift towards hybrid cars and this will increase tool consumption because hybrid cars have more components than the petrol and diesel cars. So, in the short term there will be a shift in the upwards direction for the consumption in car industry. But in future of course, as we go more and more towards electric cars, the need for cutting tool consumption will diminish.

Another interesting part is that probably the demand for injection moulding is going to increase. There will be more needs for die moulds so some of the volumes that will be lost in automotive will be balanced by the die and mould industry. Also, as aerospace is continuously growing worldwide, we expect it to generate enough demand to balance out the lost business from Automotive.

Another area, of course, is 3D printing. 3D printing will take away some of the subtractive manufacturing but the components will not be finished when they come out of the additive manufacturing process, so they need to be finished and that still happens with cutting tools. So, there will be more and more growth in finishing tools and less in roughing tools.

How do you see the Indian Market like in terms competition, demand and other aspects?
We are experiencing steady and very sizable growth year after year. We are growing about 20% to 30% every year in India, but we still see more opportunity for growth. There is a lot of competition, not just from domestic, but global players as well. There are many domestic players which are investing in technology and performing better, so we see India as a good competitive market. India is peculiar because of the infrastructure from a sales channel perspective, it’s quite difficult to cover the whole territory and to work with dealers and sub dealers and I think that’s the key to how you work in India, how do you get your product across the country. Also, we manufacture our taps in Pune, India, so I would say we have a fair idea of the country and its demand pattern.

Your future plans for India…
What we are doing in India is what we do everywhere, try to establish ourselves and our brand in the market. I think brand is a big driver and we do that by hiring the best we can and making sure that we provide the best service. As I say, we work through distribution but we do lot of technical work at the end-user level and that’s the way we drive our products to the customers.

By Nishant Kashyap