One of the earliest pioneers in the EMS sector, Tescom has witnessed the evolution of the Indian electronics industry through many ups and downs. Electronics For You interacted with V. Balasubramani, the CEO of Tescom, to understand the current trends shaping India’s EMS sector, challenges faced, and the outlook for their future.
Q. What are the three top trends driving manufacturing and the manufacturing equipment in the sector?
A. Though there have been several trends that impact the industry over the years, we believe that miniaturisation, artificial intelligence (AI), and IoT are the clear drivers of the electronics manufacturing sector.
As far as manufacturing equipment is concerned, intelligent equipment and remote monitoring are going to be the driving force for this sector. Smart devices that improve efficiency by reducing human error are becoming an integral part of the EMS industry. Devices that provide analytical data enabling fine tuning of processes are becoming game-changers.
Q. Do you have any equipment providing intelligent and remote reporting, and how does that provide your team with a strategic advantage over competitors?
A. All our lines are equipped with machines that can share data through mobile apps and provide us remote control over production and quality. We are working on integrating these data to our ERP directly. We are currently working on artificial intelligence based inspection equipment, which is a relatively new concept in the Industry.
Q. How are these tech trends affecting investment in manufacturing equipment, staffing, and the best practices followed by EMS firms?
A. These trends are forcing all players to be more competitive and proactive. The equipment required to assemble miniaturised components for certain IoT products like modules require us to invest more. While we train our people for handling high-end products, retaining them is becoming a major challenge, and we need to follow certain best practices to keep our employees engaged and happy.
Q. What are some leadership skills needed in the EMS industry today?
A. Leaders in the EMS industry should upskill in various fields—processes, quality management, costing, technology, marketing, and customer relationship. A practical knowledge about all the fields enables them to ensure quality of work. Apart from hard skills, the leaders should also anticipate market trends. They should be able to envision ahead and understand the market in the near future. They should also be a better decision maker and risk taker. Like every good leader, they must develop strategic plans and be able to build a culture of enthusiasm and teamwork.
Q. How easy or difficult is it to attract the right talent for EMS firms? Are schemes driven by the government to train blue-collared workforce helping you to get trained manpower?
A. Talent is not readily available for EMS players like us. We typically hire and then train them as per our needs. However, with growth in the industry, the need for trained resources is sharply increasing. Moreover, the youngsters seem to be more attracted towards IT or digital marketing.
Thankfully, there are a lot of skill development programmes offered both by the state and Central governments. Apprenticeships (promoted) by the government are popular and we are able to get dedicated teams from ITI and technical training institutes, especially from tier 2 cities and rural areas.
Q. Given that most of the roles are blue-collared in EMS, are there positions that need skilled engineers or M.Tech too, for any of the production-related processes?
A. We don’t require M.Techs. We do need a certain percentage of talented engineers. They are needed to setup our lines, plan our quality assurance processes, and work in the Manufacturing Engineering department. They also help us at the end of the line for testing, debugging, and understanding the design, when the situation demands it.
Q. What are the challenges that you are currently facing?
A. Unpredictability of the market and the changes in other sectors has to be the most prominent challenge. EMS is generally sandwiched between various players. Any change in the macro-economic and micro-economic policies impacts EMS and its survival. We are neither the product nor the design owners. We also are not marketing partners. Any surprises in these lines will directly impact the profitability of EMS, which often results in non-moving inventory. Any delay or challenge in the supply-chain will finally affect the EMS sector.