Precision Automation & Robotics India (PARI) Managing Director Mangesh Kale believes what sets the company apart from other automation businesses is its emphasis on learning. “The sheer amount of knowledge in the world is tremendous,” Mangesh tells The CEO Magazine. “Even in our application area, the knowledge is huge. Any data point we receive from anything that we do doesn’t work unless we learn it, internalise it, apply it and come out with a product or modification.”
This learning, Mangesh adds, is also the reason why PARI is able to match any geography. “For example, today we are sending out equipment to Europe where we have to be HSE (Health and Safety Executive) compliant,” he says. “When we send our equipment to the US we have to be OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) compliant. The specifications of controls for electronics are very different worldwide.
“We are able to customise our offerings to all these geographies because we are a learning organisation. We understand the shifts in the market and we respond to them quickly, readying solutions for tomorrow.”
PARI designs and creates automation and robotic solutions in three main areas: powertrain machining automation, assembly automation and configurable products. It first entered the market in 1990. “There was nothing in India at that time – no paradigm or ecosystem – for having a sustainable company in automation,” Mangesh says. “PARI was the very first of its kind.”
Between 1990–93, the company invested its own money into research and design to develop robotics before the country’s economic liberation propelled its solutions into the limelight. “When the macroeconomic parameters in India started changing, investment started coming in,” Mangesh explains. “That period was basically a boom for the whitegoods industry, so we made robotics and automation for washing machines, refrigerators, cassette players, and so on. That lasted until 1998 when the capacity became saturated and it was enough to supply the whole country.”
With the whitegoods market settled, the next phase for PARI was to support the country’s automotive boom. “We went into automotive in a reasonably big fashion from 1998,” Mangesh explains. “We did a lot of significant jobs for Indian manufacturers like Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, and Bajaj Auto.
Staying ahead of game
“Then we had a significant growth spurt because many OEMs started investing in India, especially in collaboration with foreign partners. Fiat came to India with Tata Motors, Nissan came into India, and Maruti Suzuki started looking at Indian suppliers like us.”
From there, the country’s defence industry began investing in automation and Mangesh says the company grew 20 times by 2008.
To continually stay ahead of the game, PARI employs a two-pronged focus on invention and innovation, and operational efficiency. To Mangesh, business sustainability is only possible when a company can demonstrate a systematic capability for consistently sustained innovation.
“On the innovation side, our measurements are very clearly ‘What is the complete end-to-end process automation we can do?’” Mangesh says. “Many companies that supply products for only certain automation will have a difficult time to grow because their products will become obsolete. We are different because we don’t just make products. Our whole ecosystem is based on developing the process along with the product’s evolution.
“On the operational side, we ask ‘What is the revenue per person? What is the profitability per person?’ So, it’s actually a win–win situation because if you don’t increase the number of people proportionate to the business, it means that every person is having more career growth. In the past six years, our revenues and gross margins have doubled, with zero increase in the company’s headcount.”
Externally, Mangesh says it’s about how many unique solutions the company develops that can give value to customers. “Every year, we make approximately 100,000 new parts that need product life-cycle management,” Mangesh explains.
“That plays down into a number of products and the effectiveness. Instead of efficiency, we call it effectiveness. Efficiency means how to do things right; effectiveness means how to do the right thing. If processes or products are becoming obsolete, it’s important to let go of them and focus only on the ones that will provide effectiveness in the future.”
At the forefront of automation
Mangesh acknowledges that the learning aspect of the company is easier said than done, and so the company has an alternative approach to addressing customer needs. “We always aim to not only satisfy the customer but to also ensure they are delighted,” he explains.
“Competitors often say, ‘List your requirements and we’ll meet them accordingly’. But I don’t believe that’s a good method. What we should be able to say is, ‘We believe this is what’s going to be required in the future. We hear your input about requirements, cost points and so on. Then, we’ll develop the product to suit your needs together. That is how we ensure customers are delighted.”
There are several avenues the company is currently working on in the automation space, from tapping into the electric car market to developing automated parking solutions. “Wherever there are congested cities, we require mechanised parking,” Mangesh says. “In the same area that can normally fit 100 cars, 200 cars can be accommodated through automation. So space is saved significantly, which is better for everyone.”
According to Cisco’s 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report:
39% of companies rely on automation
34% rely on machine learning
32% rely on artificial intelligence
Banking is another area PARI is focused on, with the development of 24/7 automated bank locker systems. “All of us are used to bank lockers where people simply walk in and access their lockers,” Mangesh says.
“But now we have come up with a very innovative product, which has been already used in India. Instead of going to your locker, the locker comes to you.”
Another area is warehouse automation, where PARI is creating automatic storage and retrieval systems. “Storage is definitely a requirement for everything. All industries need it, from textiles to automotive engines,” Mangesh says. “And today, land is very expensive, so people want to go vertical.
“So with these robotic technologies applied to these segments, we believe we should grow aggressively in the next three to five years. On the horizon, we see ourselves continuing to be the largest automation company in India.”