In conversation with Mr. Namasivayam Reguraj

Q First, of all Congratulations on receiving the Life Time Achievement Award from TAGMA. How does it feel to have received it from TAGMA, the association you created?

It is a great feeling and I whole heartedly accept it. It was a great surprise. It is like your child has grown up and one day comes and tells you, Hey Dad, “You are great”. That is exactlyhow I felt when I was given the award during ITS 2019.

Q. Please tell us about your journey with TAGMA…

When we started TAGMA in the 90s, the idea was to become the voice of the Indian tooling Industry and to put forth their challenges in front of the Government andother related Agencies. When we started, it was a very small team, but today, I am proud to say that TAGMA has truly become a National Association.

During those years, the availability of certain grades of alloy steel for tools and accurate machine tools was a challenge. Also, the tooling industry in India was fragmented andexchange of knowledge was limited. Indian companies did not have a forum to share knowledge and make business contacts. To find skilled manpower was also a daunting task, as there weren’t any Institutes that taught the basics of tool and die making.

The Government was not understanding the importance of the Tooling industry. We had to interact a lot with the Government Authorities to make them understand importance of the tooling industry and the kind of support the tooling suppliers required from the Government. Gradually, we progressed, and the Government startedunderstanding our needs. I must mention here, the support and guidance we received from Mr J.N Godrej, in the early stages of the formation of TAGMA , helped us a lot.

TAGMA became a Member of Federation of Asian Die Mould Association (FADMA). This Membership provided a much needed boost to TAGMA. FADMA consists of Diemould Associations from various Asian Countries including China, Japan, S Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, among others. Exchange of information became easy and it helped TAGMA to learn the global trends in tooling industry. We could see and learn the kind of work the Member Countries were doing, the kind of machines they had in the shop floor, their way of training, and their design expertise. Overall, it was a good learning experience for us.

India has started exporting tools. Exposure to exhibitions and knowledge sharing platforms such as ITS have helped this industry to a great extent. I am proud to say that TAGMA is playing a very important role in the up-liftment of Indian tool makers by providing them the much required exposure to the best exhibitions and conferences.

Q. How do you feel when you see TAGMA’s growth?

I am more than pleased by the way the leadership has blossomed. Also, very happy with the way way TAGMA has shaped-up. What was started as a small intervention for the tool makers with the Government, has transformed itself into one of the most important Associations for them. Today, OEMs are keen to explore domestic tools. Earlier, we had to workhard to draw their attention. Industries have now understood the importance of localisation, and how it can help to reduce cost. It is a very good opportunity for Indian tooling suppliers.TAGMA should present itself as a collective body before the OEMs and chart out a strategy to meet their challenges and expectations.

Q. You mentioned about the skill gap earlier, which I believe was the sole reason to start NTTF. Please take us through the journey and how it has helped the Indian manufacturing industry?

Earlier, there were no institutes that provided dedicated training with respect to tool and die making. The very objective of NTTF was to fill this gap and provide theindustry with skilled manpower to be employable. The response from the Industry was very encouraging and NTTF was able to move forward in this direction. Today, NTTF Alumni are present in Countries like Japan, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, among others.

Today, Tool and Die making is getting better and going through several changes along with the change in demand. Around 10,000 students graduate from NTTF everyyear. Till date, at least 1,25,000 Technicians have graduated from NTTF.

We have also started a program called “Learn while you earn”...Under this program, students work five days in the industry and one day with NTTF. After three years theyreceive their Diploma from NTTF. Around 40-45 industries and 8000 students are part of this program today

Q. Please tell us about your recent collaboration with Stratasys and how you perceive the technology?

NTTF recently collaborated with Stratasys to provide Additive Manufacturing courses. We are putting up 3D printing Labs to train students and professionals inadditive manufacturing. I believe, 3D printing has a lot to offer to the tooling industry and we should look at it beyond prototyping and consider it as a main streammanufacturing technology.

Additive manufacturing might have some process limitations with respect to accuracy. So the right thing would be to print a part and finish it with machining. It will not only savematerial, but also save time and provide higher accuracy. So the combination of subtractive and additive, referred to as hybrid manufacturing has a good future.

There has been several discussions regarding to changing dynamics of automotive industry. What do you have to say about it? In my opinion, it is not a big alarm for the tooling industry. I feel, the tooling industry can comfortably tackle these engineering changes. However, they should be wellprepared for the changes ahead.

Q. As someone who has decades of experience in the tooling industry, what would be your suggestion to the Indian tooling suppliers?

Indian tool rooms should create a Consortium in the spirit to co-operate, collaborate and compete. This will help to improve and face the demands and challenges of themarkets.

Indian Tooling Industries should keep an eye on global happenings. I would suggest the Indian companies to continue to learn from their Global Peers. Building confidence with OEMs is another aspect. OEMs should also treat domestic suppliers at par with any overseas supliers.

Indian tool rooms are at par with their counterparts from Japan, Korea, Australia, and Singapore, among others, But, there is room to improve documentations, which could help in reducing the iterations, resulting in improved development and performances. We should also move towards technology adoption. The latest trends such as AI, smart factory, and automation are the need of the hour.

Q. The future of the India tool room industry…

The Indian Machine Tool industry has shown considerable maturity in the recent times. We are expecting to witness similar growth and maturity from the Indian tooling industry in the coming years.