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We are aiming to be the first port-of-call for all major OEMs

Venugopal Pillai ,  Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 17:18 Hrs  [IST]

Akshay Pitti— Akshay Pitti, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Pitti Laminations Ltd

Hyderabad-based Pitti Laminations (Pittilam) is a leading provider of electrical laminations for various types of motors and has been serving the industry for over 25 years. Akshay Pitti, in this interaction with Venugopal Pillai, explains the role of a well-crafted lamination in the efficient working of motors. Pitti observes that though the market is filled with lamination manufacturers in the unorganized sector, these marginal players are looking to exit the business. A major consolidation is on the cards, Pitti feels.

To start with, please tell us what a lamination is and the role it plays in the working of a rotating machine.
A motor is a device which converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. This is achieved through interaction of magnetic fields and current carrying conductors. The magnetic field is generated in the core of motor, when current passes through the coiled conductors wound in the core. A core, in turn, is a stack or bunch of laminations that is the main and important part of a motor, without which a motor can not run.

What defines a good quality lamination and how does a goodquality lamination help rotating machines become more efficient?
The quality of laminations is directly linked to the energy efficiency of the motor. Poor quality laminations will cause the motor to generate excessive heat which may lead to the motor burning out.

Which industry segments do you cater to and which of them would you regard as key demand drivers in future?
PLL supplies the laminations used in industrial motors, traction motors (railway), servo drives and controls, earth moving & mining equipment, alternators, wind mills, nuclear, thermal and hydro generators as well as special purpose motors for various core sectors. We feel that traction motors and motors used in the mining & energy sector will be the key demand drivers in future.

In particular, do you see growing demand for laminations for wind turbine generators?
Yes, there is a consistent growth in the wind mill business that we are catering to in the last few years.

What is the current status of your capacity expansion plan at your Hyderabad facilities?
We completed our last expansion of the Hyderabad facility in March 2012. This has taken the overall capacity to 30,000 tpa laminations, 2,000 core-dropped machined stator frames and 3,000 machined components. We have the best quality testing equipment in the lamination industry and one of the best-inclass machine shop.

Vertically integrating these two businesses gives us a unique ability to provide a true one-stop solution to our customers and reduces the time-to-market of our customer products.

What is the current demand-supply scenario in India with respect to motor laminations?
We have too many players in this sector but not all of them are able to meet the stiff quality requirements of major OEMs. So I feel there will be consolidation that will take place sooner than later. We are already seeing some of the fringe players exploring options to exit the industry.

Unorganized players in the lamination industry mostly produce low quality laminations used in non-critical applications like fans, small switchgear, etc or provide laminations to the repair and refurbishment markets or smaller non-branded manufacturers of motors and transformers.

We hear that transformer lamination manufacturers often face the problem of scrap inferior electrical steel (CRGO and CRNO). What is the scene with respect to motor laminations?
This does not apply to motor industry. Moreover this is irrelevant to the type of sectors which we are catering to since we buy only prime CRNO coils in high-efficiency grades directly from the most reputed mills in the world.

What is your view on the Steel Quality Control Order of June 2011 that mandates the use of only BIS-certified electrical steel?
Most of lamination manufacturers in India are importing the electrical grade steel. If the mandate comes into force, all the imports of electrical steel will stop since most major foreign raw material manufacturers are not yet certified by BIS.

At present we have only two manufacturers of CRNGO Steel in India, SAIL ad TKES (Thyssen Krupp). TKES only does the cold rolling and coating operation in India on imported hot rolled coils making them noncompetitive when compared to Asian mills like CSC, POSCO, etc. Even put together, they cannot meet the requirement of the industry apart from the fact that lot of big power projects and exports of special purpose motor laminations are dependent on high efficiency electrical steel which is mainly imported as there is an acute shortage of capacity for producing these grades of steel.

Therefore this order will have a significant impact on the output till enough international mills are approved or additional capacity is created in India.

For several decades, India has been unable to create domestic manufacturing capacity for electrical steel. What is your view?
It is a cause of great concern we are net importers of electrical steel and electrical steel is the basic raw material required to produce all kinds of rotating machines be it a generator for large power projects or a small motor to power the compressors of an air-conditioning unit.

Electrical steel being a major cost driver of these products the competitiveness of our countries in these products is being eroded by high steel costs apart from making us vulnerable to changing policy regimes of steel-exporting countries.

Tell us about the export performance of Pitti Laminations. Which countries would you regard as major export destinations?
Our export performance over the years has been pretty impressive given the exacting standards of international markets on quality, price and timely supplies. Major destinations are US, Canada and Mexico. Serious efforts are on to make forays into the European markets as well and we expect to see some traction soon.

Please summarize your vision for Pitti Laminations and discuss some key corporate goals that you would like to see the company attaining in the coming years?
I am aiming Pittilam to be the first port-of-call for all major OEMs of industrial motors, traction motors, alternators for earth moving & mining equipment, wind mills, nuclear, thermal, hydro generators et al, for all their requirements of motor components, sub-assemblies, machined castings etc. and continue to be their preferred partner.

Pittilam, with several initiatives of vertical integration to manufacture value-added products in place, will truly be the provider of “one stop solutions” to all our customers significantly reducing their “time to market” while providing measurable cost advantages. Our aim is to build sustainable and symbiotic relationships with all our key customers.

Plans are in place to grow Pittilam into a Rs.1,000-crore corporate entity with decent EBITDA margins in the next four financial years from the current top line of Rs.400+ crore.
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