Perunderai, Coimbatore: A dusty country road leads to the company’s main gate, but visitors to Diesel Machinery Works (DMW) shouldn’t be fooled by first impressions. Inside the company’s whitewashed factory, high-tech manufacturing operations are running around the clock, producing components for automotive, compressor, valve, pump and agricultural customers. Much of the company’s production is exported, a fact that owner and founder Mr. Shanmugam is particularly proud of.
““Although there are many opportunities in India, Industry here is very competitive,” he explains. “We realised that to succeed in the long term, DMW would need to export. The Indian economy is open to the whole world and we wanted to target business from overseas customers.”
Mr N Shanmugam, his brother and three additional employees started DMW as a jobbing shop just 14 years ago. Since then, the company has enjoyed significant growth and these-days employs a total of 150 people working three shifts, six days a week. It is still located on the 20-acre farm where Mr Shanmugam was raised, a place where his family lives in a newly built house adjacent to the 20,000sq.ft factory.
In the company’s workshop, stacks of completed parts sit adjacent to the Haas machines. At the time of my visit the company’s Haas SL-30 CNC turning centre was employed turning a batch of wheel hubs for UK commercial vehicle manufacturer, Leyland. DMW produces around 225 cast iron wheel hubs every day on its Haas turning centre and each is inspected by the operator. The ISO9001:2000 accredited company certainly doesn’t skimp or cut corners when it comes to doing the job well.
“Quality control is the most crucial part of our work,” says Mr Shanmugam,. “Each process is closely monitored using flow charts and statistical methods. We also deploy 5S and TPM procedures.”
Across the factory, two Haas VF-3 CNC machining centres are producing valve housings for a Canadian company and compressor housings for a US customer. Mr Shanmugam explains that the valve housings would normally require the use of a horizontal machining centre. However, using the Haas HRT310 rotary table as a fourth axis allows DMW to use the vertical VF-3 instead, which represented a far smaller investment.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the decision to invest in Haas CNC machine tools was a turning point in the company’s history,” he says. “It has allowed DMW to secure contracts from major customers that would not have considered using our manual machine capability.”
The Next Generation
Such has been DMW’s success with CNC technology the company is using its newfound knowledge to teach students at a recently built training facility known at the DMW CNC Centre. As an ex-lecturer at the nearby Kongu Polytechnic College (his wife still works there, also as a lecturer), Mr Shanmugam is particularly proud of his latest venture. Of the 150 staff employed by the company, 25 are trainees.
“The Haas machines are ideal for training purposes,” says Mr Shanmugam. “They are easy to understand and very user friendly, even for students with no previous hands-on experience.”
Despite being less than a year old, the DMW CNC Centre is already making a name for itself. Up to 30 students a month pass through its doors. Most are diploma graduates from the local colleges looking to add practical experience to theory. They spend half their time in front of a Haas control simulator learning CNC programming, and the remaining time training on-the-job using the Haas machines on the factory floor. The company’s course in CNC Programming and Operations has a curriculum defined in consultation with industry, and includes programming, operations, machine setting, tooling and maintenance.
“We did consider other machines,” says Mr Shanmugam, “but the functionality, quality and price of the Haas machines put them at the top of our list.”
The CNC Centre has two full time CNC trainers who also teach students the principals of CAD and CAM. After course completion many of the students migrate to Europe where demand for CNC operatives with both qualifications and experience is high. Most remain in India, with a few taking up posts with local companies.
Mr Shanmugam describes himself as a ‘technocrat entrepreneur’, a title, he explains, which may not sound as complimentary to Westerners as it does to Indians.
“In India, we are very proud of our engineering capability. At DMW, we always look for opportunities to grow and expand what we can offer. Currently we provide sub-assembly production, CADCAM services, including solid modelling and FEA, reverse engineering, 3D/2D drawing conversion, CNC code generation and raw material sourcing. To continue our success means investing in the best people and the best technology available.”