O.L.C.I Engineering: Ready to Lead

Antonio Strafallaci, Managing Director, O.L.C.I Engineering, is confident of the business potential in India and aims to become the country’s leading industrial automation provider. Excerpts from an interview with Maria R.

Please tell us about O.L.C.I Engineering Group’s areas of business and worldwide operations, and the important milestones the company has achieved.

The O.L.C.I. Engineering Group started in 1987 in Torino, which is in the north-western region of Italy, with a company called CIMA; it was founded by the current President of the Italian Group Holding, Mr. Erminio Ceresa. Through new foundations - first in Poland and then in Brasil - till the last one in India in June 2015, the Group has grown to a strength of almost 600 people across the world. Last year, a merger was carried out with the Chinese Efort Group that produces industrial robots and robotic applications.

O.L.C.I. business activities encompass Industrial Automation; it has been mainly focused on the automotive market (for historical reasons), aerospace, railways and general industry automation. We provide turnkey automated systems to customers for their production requirements. These include automated welding systems and robotic cells for different industrial applications.

Our headquarters and R&D Center are in Torino; and we have production units in several other countries so that we can implement the complete process from order acquisition to order execution till final buy-off and after-sales assistance at the end-user’s premises.


What are your views about the Indian transportation industry: Railways, Metro, and Automotives?

Here in India, the digital divide does not seem to be an issue while the physical one still is. In these years, extraordinary investments, already approved, will be used to build new infrastructure and transform the existing, to facilitate mobility across the country. In a few years, India will dramatically change in terms of public and private transportation.

In my view, e-buses and e-vehicles will be on the roads soon and we have, in fact, already started our collaboration with the first company to prototype e-buses. Due to new production requirements, automation is really required to replace the manual assembly process of the underbody of the bus.

For e-vehicles, we do not see any major changes in our collaboration with the car makers in their body shops. But there is a different perspective as regards Metros and Railways, where big investments (of round $30 billion) are being made, and which require a change in the Railways Industry’s production process. They must increase production and move from manual coach assembly to an automated process, and we can be their partners in this important change.


What business potential does O.L.C.I Engineering see in the Indian market?

As it happened in Poland and Brazil, where the company followed its customers, in India too, we were expected to be there for our main automotive customer, FCA. So, at the end of 2014, the company’s board decided to open an Indian branch and I came to Pune in January 2015.

After three and a half years of doing business in India, we can say that the opportunities to work in the Industrial Automation sector of India are really big. This is a big, young country, and is currently in a strongly growing phase across different states and in both rural and urban areas. For sure, growth requires governance, which is very difficult, especially from the point of the impact of industrial growth on the environment and the different regional cultures.

As of now, our Indian operations are focused on Automotives, Railways, and General Industry, with customers like FCA, VW, Mahindra & Mahindra, Alstom and Tata Motors, to whom we are providing ‘made in India’ fixtures and complete cells, fully or semi-automated. From design to installation and commissioning, the complete order execution is being performed in India.

What turnkey solutions and customer support services do you provide?

When a customer asks for a turnkey solution, we provide a simulation of our system and the concept design for approval, following which, we complete the design to manufacture the system and buy all the required commercial items and equipment. Only after in-house installation and trials, we get a green signal from our customer to dispatch the system to be installed and commissioned at his site for the final buy off. Once production starts, we provide all the onsite assistance required by the customer.


How do you find adaptability to European technology by the cost-conscious Indian market?

I think that the Indian market’s cost-consciousness will change due to the big and fast changes in production. In my view, it is time for the Indian market to look closely at the lifecycle cost of the products and services. To give a few examples: roads cannot any more be repaired after the monsoon season, to get damaged again during the next monsoon season; quality repeatability has to be always there in industrial production; design engineering services do not have to always require a double check; and, last but not the least, people skill has to be adequate for this growing market challenge as skill development is a very basic requirement.

If you measure the total cost at the very end of your process, that one only is the real cost of the Product or Service you bought. That does not mean that costs will increase: on the contrary, taking care of the Lifecycle cost of the Product/Service, we will avoid costs increase and we will be able to ensure a plus to Indian competition for the future.

What is your strategy to make your presence strong in India?

Our strategy is to continue welcoming on board resilient and innovative people; and to envision India as one of the most significant countries of the world. We have invested in setting up new facilities in Pune and we are working towards an integration with all our sister companies in order to share the best practices and the lessons learnt within our Group. One of our goals is to become a leader in automation for the Railways sector of India.

NBM&CW August 2018

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