TIICCI Exclusive Interview of Vikram Bhansali, Director, Metravi & CEM IndiaMetravi Instruments
TICCI Times Business Magazine, November 2019
The Testing Instruments Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry published a cover story in their launch issue of the TICCI Times. The Interview is as follows:
How is your experience of Test & Measurement Industry?
With an Electronics Engineering degree from Pune University, I joined the family business, Arun Enterprises & Electricals Electronics Enterprises, in 1996, supporting my father, who had been in the business since 1970, dealing in Indian TMI products and brands. When I joined in, the trading business was growing by maximum 10% year on year with very thin margins. The market then had no hi-tech offerings and only lame, old type instruments, designed in the 1980s were available. Though quality and reliability was available but there was no innovation, technology or extra features being added to the products.
Two years I studied the market, the needs of the various industries and the lack of offerings by the Indian TMI sector. Taiwan was the focus for production for almost all the Indian companies but China was then just starting to take-off.
Now having spent more than 20 years selling in the field of testing & measuring equipments, I have been witness to the phenomenon of constant change. From the days of thermometers to thermo-couples to IR measurement. However, leading change is another high in itself – a change that makes a significant contribution to the industry.
There is cut-throat competition in every business today. It is the best that survive…that embrace change. There is immense pressure on manufacturing to reduce costs and improve efficiency & productivity and the advancement in Maintenance practices have been key drivers from the manufacturing end. I have seen how maintenance practices have changed – changed to extract the maximum out of the machines – from corrective to preventive to predictive & condition based monitoring.
Having interacted with manufacturers & traders from across the world, I always felt that Indians were denied the latest in technology. I knew of non-intrusive measurement & monitoring that were completely risk-free. These were either unavailable or were priced so exorbitantly, only a select few could afford. There was a huge need gap of technologically advanced equipment * with the affordability & reliability that Indians are used to. I took on the challenge to fill this gap.
During the period when we were trading with various brands in India, what I understood was that, since the number of players were too less, the companies already existing were lethargic in understanding the need of the industries and hence could not offer state of the art products. That is when I started with our own brands, so that we could offer state-of-art-technology at reasonable prices. We wanted to provide complete instrumentation solution for all the needs of the industries and hence were determined to become ONE-STOP-SHOP for all kinds of instruments, which we are today.
Is there any impact of GST in business?
Business is definitely good post GST implementation. It has helped streamline business processes, directly affecting efficiency. Processes overall are smoother with no enquiries for sales (or confusion for that matter) with or without bills, hence, no adjustments. Abolishment of the cumbersome C Forms has ensured hassle-free logistics for customer deliveries and ensured faster transaction handling & closings. Frequent and wasteful visits to Sales Tax and other offices are no longer necessary and a whole lot of time and effort is saved, which can now rightly be invested in the business.
What is your USP (unique Selling products)?
METRAVI VIDEO INFRA RED THERMOMETER VIT-20 with Dual Laser Pointer, Color Display, Video and Still picture recording, In-built Contact Thermometer, uSD Card & PC interface, -50 to 1850°C, Adjustable Emissivity, D:S 50:1.
METRAVI VIBRATION METERS which measure velocity, acceleration and displacement along with the temperature and come complete with the magnetic base.
CEM RADIATION METER DT-9501 was developed to detect α-, β-, γ- and x- radiation. The radiation meter DT-9501 provides many features including a large, high-resolution backlit LCD display with annunciators. The radiation detector DT-9501 has internal data storage for up to 2000 data sets, which are saved either manually or automatically. Furthermore the radiation detector DT-9501 is equipped with a Bluetooth interface to transfer the measured data in real-time to a computer. With the software, that is included with the product, the data can then be further processed and reviewed. The radiation detector DT-9501 stands out with its high accuracy and practical design. The radiation detector can be applied in the pharmaceutical industry, laboratories, power plants, quarries, the emergency services, metal industries, petroleum reservoirs, environmental protection etc.
CEM Air Particle Counter DT-9881 has a unique 2.8”color TFT LCD display and built-in camera for capturing videos and photos that are stored onto internal memory or a micro SD card, for viewing on PC, providing fast, easy and accurate readings for particle counter, Air Temperature, Relative Humidity, Dew Point & Wet Bulb Temperature and , Gas Detection (DT-9881 only). The DT-9880/DT-9881 can measure up to 6 channels of particle sizes.
CEM also offers an unbeatable and enviable Thermal Imager range, right from smartphone adaptors that turn your own phone into a hi-res full function thermal imager with in-built analysis and reporting features, to Multimeters & Clamp Meters combined with Thermal Imagers and including professional grade hi-tech ones having upto 640×480 px resolution.
What is your opinion about GeM ( Government e Marketing ) ?
The concept for GeM is good and will definitely help streamline public purchases for all government departments and organisations, making the transactions faster, more transparent as well as fair. As far as the UI/UX is concerned though, the processes are too cumbersome for Sellers and fields required to be updated for products too ambiguous. Options for specifications are not always available properly and do not serve the purpose; the individual specifications to be chosen are only allowed from pre-defined options as of now.
If managed and executed properly, the initiative has great potential to serve as an excellent platform for Government public purchase.
What do you expect from current Government?
For the T&M Industry overall, standards need to be derived and defined substantially. We hardly have anything available. Like the CE standard & certification available for the EU, we should have one standard for all basic electronics.
Top priority of the T&M Industry in India, along with the Government, should be to set up forums and address the standardisation issue and need, along with maintenance of the same, so that we are able to educate, empower and expand usage of hi-tech, latest and standardised equipment of the highest standards.
Once the above is taken care of, expansion and growth of the T&M industry will go hand-in-hand with the growth of industry overall in India. Education and awareness is much required as to the usage of the T&M equipment.
What are the major hurdles to manufacturing these products in India?
In India, we hardly have any exposure to International Markets, like China, where consequently, manufacturing volumes are high and cost efficiency can be taken advantage of. Hence, pricing can be kept in control.
We have very good potential for designing high-precision and reliable instruments in India but due to insufficient demand volume, we would not be able to manage cost-effectiveness. Currently, since requirements are low, raw materials are priced very high as compared to South and South-East Asian countries.
Also, good Electronics Engineers are very hard to come by indigenously. Most of the Engineering Colleges have up to 50% vacant seats for Electronics. The country needs to majorly look into the development of the Electronics field and industry.
Who are your major customers?
All major Government, Semi-Government, private and public sector industries, including Railways, Defence, Aviation, Telecom, Petroleum, Cement, Power Generation, Iron & Steel, Plywood, Automobile, Paper, Chemicals, Heavy Equipment, Automation, etc. Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Colleges & Educational Institutions also source our products.
Do you work for dealer Network model or direct selling to end users?
We have both models being implemented successfully. Our product range on offer is such that we are able to cater to both ends effectively.
Sales for our regular and fast-moving items, like Multimeters and Clamp Meters, are mainly dealer dependent, while specialised hi-tech instruments like Air Particle Counters and Thermal Imagers need direct interaction with end-users to enable effective usage and solutions.
What are your major strengths?
Metravi offers a complete bouquet of hi-tech, reliable, quality instruments – your one stop shop for any test and measurement need. Innovation is our forte and we also combine instrumentation needs into product packages, so that Engineers can carry and use single instruments instead of multiple. Metravi is dedicated to offer feature-driven instrumentation of highest quality yet within reach of every strata of users.
For CEM our vision towards Innovation, Customisation & Reliability, continues with
• Combining compatible instrumentation needs into singular products
• Using 3D printing technologies in housing production ensuring best IP ratings
• Focusing on smart instruments to drive seamless connectivity
• Providing cloud-enabled data transfers from our instruments
• Enabling live remote monitoring over wireless & Bluetooth connectivity
• Ensuring reliable after-sales service support
All CEM products carry a warranty against any manufacturing defects. This hassle-free warranty allows the customer to get the instrument replaced within an unparalleled record period of 48 hours
How do you satisfy your customers?
From users of day-to-day products to that of hi-tech professional ones, we provide instruments with state-of-the-art technology, highest accuracy and repeatability but at very cost-effective pricing.
We back our product offerings with fast deliveries, efficient repair times and quick and robust after-sales assistance for application & usage support including training. We share product unpacking and usage videos along with offering on call explanations as well as hands-on / onsite training as add on services.
For low cost instruments, we keep the assembled and calibrated PCBs in ready stock. As soon as we receive any instruments for servicing, we check the issues and if it requires a lot of chip level work, we replace the assembled PCB with a fresh one, thus effectively providing the customer a new instrument, albeit in the same housing.
For high cost instruments, we keep most of the components, firmware and software required for repairs in ready stock too, so that the turnaround time is most efficient.
Where do you want to see yourself after 10 years?
Our vision is to start supplying to all major & minor countries and setup offices and dealer networks across the world.
Where are you different from your other competitors?
• Often customers are unaware as well as unsure about which instrument or specification would serve their measurement needs – we provide consultation and advice as per measurement or industry needs before offering them any product from our range.
• Most of the users are oblivious that certain instruments are already available for their specific needs – we are now trying to educate and propagate our offerings and solutions that we offer for every measurement need.
• Mostly users are pleasantly surprised when they hear that such hi-quality and reliable innovative instruments are available at such realistic pricing, since they have only been used to American brands selling at three times our prices.
Do you have any message for Test & Measurement Industry?
As mentioned earlier, we should be looking for establishing standards for all Electronic Equipment, which are specific to Indian environment as well as climate. Indians should be made available the best and all hi-tech instrumentation available and the country should not be treated as a dumping-ground for cheap, low-spec and useless instruments; importing of the same should be discontinued as these serve no purpose.
Every instrument manufactured or supplied should have base level accuracies and ranges, should be non-hazardous and user safety should be taken care of. Electro-magnetic radiation in every/any case should be checked for and safety standards adhered too.
The industry first needs to educate & enable themselves so as to be able to understand, advise & provide correct and practical testing and measurement solutions and equipment.
Let us come together and push for the need of Standardisation and Certifications across Electronic equipment usage along with educating and exposing end-users to the varied but optimal solutions and options available for their test and measurement functions and needs.
How do you see TIICCI role in your business success?
A forum like TIICCI was much needed for the TMI sector and I hope it will enable standardisations, quality optimisation and much required growth, backed by education, collective intelligence and control.
The forum would be able to present our needs to the Government and should be able to open up discussions towards standardisation and other needs of the sector.
I’m hopeful that the forum will also provide common ground for meaningful & mutually beneficial business relations within the sector.
Competition is good for any business as it keeps us on our toes and encourages innovation and better products, but we should not be getting into a space where just to cut prices we treat the country as a dumping ground and import meaningless and useless equipment and sell the same. Expectations from TIICCI is high on that front for helping setting standards in quality and supply overall.