Do not underestimate India’s technological capabilities

Manufacturers who believe they can beat off competition from India by targeting high value products should think again.

This is according to Ben Kitcher from the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing.

Kitcher recently visited India as a member of a delegation, organised by UK Trade and Investment and UK Science and Innovation Network, following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK, which led to £9bn-worth of deals being announced.

During his time in India, Kitcher visited Pune – one of the largest automotive manufacturing bases in India – and Bengaluru (Bangalore) – an emerging hub for aerospace manufacturing.

Ben Kitcher from the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing
Ben Kitcher from the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing

Kitcher warned that companies should not fool themselves into thinking their Indian rivals were using old technology and relying on high levels of cheap labour.

“The Indians have a clear strategic intent to establish and grow their high value manufacturing industry,” said Kitcher.

“What I saw wasn’t last generation technology and products made with a high labour content, but high tech, highly innovative and highly autonomous manufacturing. The Indians had a strong focus on technologies which will increase their capabilities, such as non-contact metrology, machine health monitoring and novel materials processing.”

He was also impressed by what he describes as “an overwhelming wealth of talent” among India’s 1 billion-plus population.

“India has a great resource of young, energetic, incentivised and well educated professionals,” he added.

“The emergence of this talent is a product of a recent and ongoing initiative to offer more vocational education and training in technology based subjects such as IT, and very recently growing this to encompass subjects such as high value manufacturing.”