Contactless Technologies Will Be The Way Forward

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Growth of Contactless Technology during and post COVID-19 - non-contact instruments for human fever scanning

Contactless Technologies Will Be The Way Forward

In this exclusive interaction, we have Vikram Bhansali, Director, Metravi Instruments Pvt Ltd, who is also Director, CEM Instruments (India) Pvt Ltd, sharing his views on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the diagnostic T&M sector. Contactless technology is going to be the new normal, he says. Bhansali also shares his views on India’s stance on Chinese products, given that CEM is a very popular Chinese brand with longstanding presence in India.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a new wave of diagnostic equipment. How have you benefited, in terms of both Metravi and CEM?

Most of the diagnostic equipment was already there; COVID-19 has only enhanced the demand for the same. For example, we have been stocking and selling non-contact infrared forehead thermometers for years now.

The COVID-19 situation has definitely created and pushed demand for non-contact diagnostic equipment to help prevent the spread of the pandemic.

The benefit derived from the increased demand and sales is that we have been able to introduce new, innovative, next-gen test and measuring equipment, which is specific to pandemic testing, including but not limited to:

“By the time COVID started spreading in India, we already had ready stocks for infrared thermometers and we were one of the first for India and the first for Kolkata with incoming cargo and stocks of the same.”

Do you think that COVID-19 related equipment will dominate your business in the months to come? Are you planning any capacity expansion to this effect?

Capacity and stock expansion was already done starting the beginning of this year in view of the foreseen, incoming situation. Even while China was closed, we were working and manufacturing only COVID-related instruments, halting all other production.

COVID started in China in early January 2020 and we worked full-time for supplying to the local market. By February we were manufacturing and supplying to all of the Chinese market, followed by supply to all other countries.

We already had one of the first infrared thermometers with medical CE0197 certifications and ACTUAL FDA approval certificate. Specifications make a long-lasting product – up to 5 years. We incorporated high-precision German sensors. For the DT-8806H, a lot of US and UK companies use us as the OEMs and hence, we had already ramped up the production and supply for the same.

By the time COVID started spreading in India, we already had ready stocks for infrared thermometers and we were one of the first for India and the first for Kolkata with incoming cargo and stocks of the same.

Over the months, other low-grade thermometers and other products have reduced their prices drastically, but we are still maintaining the pricing due to the quality and stocks.

In the months to come, yes, COVID-related products will dominate but not because of the pandemic spread but due to the use in medical facilities and in turn, we would be and should be able to maintain required stocks as well as sale for all related instruments.

All places and areas of business and mass transit would need to be monitored and the scare of the infection would hang over.

Our products are used for other uses too and not only for COVID, so once people get used to contactless technologies, that will be the way forward for all other uses too.

“We continue to design and innovate as per specific needs of industries and sectors.”

Imports from China have come under flak for political and strategic reasons. What impact do you see of this on CEM Instruments?

CEM Instruments is a global brand and the OEM for several companies and brands around the world, so manufacturing and supply has not been affected due to the China angle.

The products that we supply in India, are majorly designed in India and as per Indian needs and requirements and all after-sales warranty and service is localized too. Hence, we have been able to deal with the issue and maintain our stocks as well as sales.

What is your reading of the situation given that CEM, after over five years in India, had gained tremendous market acceptance?

We managed to gain acceptance as well as demand due to the quality, innovation as well as customization to Indian and local needs and requirements. We continue to design and innovate as per specific needs of industries and sectors. All services too are provided by us locally and supply as well as demand has not been affected, as of now.

“Even Indian brands have seen and understood the opportunity in making production cost-effective and control pricing by buying out Chinese factories and manufacturing therein.”

Do you feel that Indian brands that appeared to have only a minority share in the Indian hand-held T&M equipment market so far will see some resurgence?

There has been no resurgence and neither is it expected; there is almost no manufacturing locally or R&D. Even the ones who claim to be making in India are mostly doing assembly with raw materials sourced from South-East China.

As of now, it is going to very difficult to maintain the pricing with manufacturing locally unless volumes, including export demand, build up drastically.

All the same, Indian equipment cannot compete with Chinese counterparts in terms of cost even when product quality is comparable. What is your view?

Agreed; as economies of scale can never set in without adequate build-up of high demand; and the latter is only achievable through demand from other countries too, in addition to local. Even Indian brands have seen and understood the opportunity in making production cost-effective and control pricing by buying out Chinese factories and manufacturing therein.

In general how do you see this year and the years ahead for both Metravi and CEM, in view the COVID-19 pandemic?

Metravi PIR-1 non-contact palm and forehead thermometer and access control

It has proven to be a good year for marketing to and educating the masses. Since all have been at home, they have enough time to spare to look into the details of products and specifications. We have seen and grabbed this opportunity to ramp up our digital efforts to market our offerings as well as educate the people about available technology and specifications.

We have used the time and situations this year in various ways, including:

  • Propagate the Instrumentation solutions and industry/application specific offerings which have always been our forte.
  • Innovation in design and combination.
  • Design and introduce new products, some even unmatchable in specifications at given pricing.

Our basket of products and solutions is so wide that we have only seen an increase in sales as well as branding overall for both Metravi and CEM.

This interview article was first published in the T&D Magazine in August 2020.

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