Pune-based Electronica Machine Tools has gained enormously from design work done by Design Directions, also from the same city. Its wire cut machines, CNC turning centres, EDMs and other machines compared with the best in the world. But they were just another set of machines, hardly appealing. That was before Design Directions had a go at them.
The apple green metal sheet casing of the machines gave way to white and green FRP moulded casing. The control panel was modified, made user-friendly and positioned where the worker could access it and operate with ease.
Electronica's requirement was, however, to save space. "Every client wants to save space. And cost," says Satish Gokhale of Design Directions. Design Directions redesigned the CNC wire cut machine and arranged the filtration system on a two tier configuration so that instead of its earlier 25 sq. m footprint space, the machine occupied only 12.1 sq. m. A similar-capacity Swiss machine takes 25 sq. m.
Other payoffs included lower costs of production, and quicker installation time. The use of FRP in the place of sheet metal brought down the number of components from 37 to seven. Assembly time got reduced, installation time came down.
"In sheet metal work, components do not fit in, so you have to rework each one separately. With moulded FRP, each component fits blindly into the space, so you save time. It also allows easier repeatability. Thus volumes increase." Electronica moved from making eight machines per month to 43, with no additional investment. "Forty per cent of manufacturing time can be saved through the right design," observes Gokhale.
Electronica had six kinds of machines, each looking different. DD wove in a distinct design, form and colour scheme into the whole range, creating an Electronica family image. The name too became large and decisive, enhancing brand and facilitating recall. "You have a world class product, so why be diffident?" asks Gokhale.
The products got widely noticed at the 1997 fair at Hanover, resulting in firm orders. The company has sold 400 machines over the last two years in 14 different countries, the Germans being major buyers.
Design Directions have so far helped Electronica design and re-design 27 different machines, and build a strong Electronica brand image. Now Electronica involves the design house at the conceptualisation stage. "We know about three to five years ahead what is coming," says Gokhale.