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BW Businessworld

'We're Keen To Leverage On Industrial Revolution By Serving Multiple Industries'

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Ashok Ashta, Managing Director and CEO, Minebea India, reveals how the signature ‘Make in India’ initiative by the PM can actually catalyse the entire manufacture ecosystem in the country

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NMB-Minebea India, the wholly-owned subsidiary of the global manufacturer of miniature and small-sized bearings and precision components, foresees tremendous opportunities in automotive and other industrial sectors. The Indian arm of the Japanese auto component major’s product range includes ball bearings, stepping motors and small DC motors, micro actuators, load cells and sensors with volumes based on customers' demand.  In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Ashok Ashta, Managing Director and CEO, Minebea India, reveals how the signature ‘Make in India’ initiative by the PM can actually catalyse the entire manufacture ecosystem in the country. As a multiplier effect, it will be able to cater to multiple industries like textile, electronics, medical, et al.

Edited excerpts.

It is been over 4 years that you are helming the Indian operations of Minebea. Can you tell us about your company’s journey so far and also the response to your product lines?
The last four years have been very exciting as we scaled up our operations here. Our parent company in 2014 took over German firm Sartorius, which is a leading supplier of industrial measuring and inspection technology. Incidentally, that company already had a plant at Bangalore in India and later at Peenya which ultimately came under our ownership. We are mainly selling ball bearings of 22 mm outer diameter (OD) and less, which find applications in cars, two-wheelers or anything which is movable. We have been the market leaders in the miniature ball bearings commanding around 60 per cent market share globally and also in India.   Based on the growth projections, I can safely say we will be commanding over 75% market share in the Indian market by 2020.

What will be the key growth drivers that will give a fillip to your business?

Our objective in entering the Indian market is to leverage on the growth potential in the automobile, aerospace, medical and textile market which are fast emerging sectors. We got a good response from our clients with whom we already had been working at a global level. Moreover, we have expanded our base to other clients based here.  If India industrialises faster, there will be proportionally greater manufacturing activities here. Our sales will automatically improve because we make ball bearings and motors, IOT products for smart cities, fan motors, backlights, etc.  It is good to see India moving and also our PM promoting various kinds of initiatives like Smart Cities, Make-in-India, or tightening up the tax structure to reduce evasions, etc are all steps in the right direction. Furthermore, robust infrastructure in terms of roads and highways, ports, power, safety, etc, will help the manufacturing ecosystem completely.

So how much does the automotive segment account for your overall business and do you see green shoots in other sectors too?
At present, the automotive segment accounts for more than 50% of our total business and we do see the equations changing provided there is a greater thrust (by the govt) on other manufacturing sectors such as smartphones.  Globally, we are active in the entire gamut of the living world such as Aerospace, Defense, Home Appliances, Power Equipment, ATMs, Electronics, etc.

As the Indian govt is incentivizing zero-emission vehicles, are you also well prepared to cater to them?
We are already supplying our products to all kinds of green vehicles in overseas markets and can do that here as well.  But there has not been any major activity in e-vehicles in India yet. Let’s assume that we have 10 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030. If sales are going to grow, it might take just 5 years. But it all depends on how fast the technology evolves. The question I have to the minister is: with new concepts like shared mobility and automated mobility, will e-mobility gain huge traction?

As there is a lot of buzz on making products in India, have you firmed up your plans to build your product lines in the country especially after having a facility in Bangalore?
The manufacturing facility run by Sartorius is solely into making weighing machines and is quite contrary to what Minebea is specifically into.  So it makes more sense to import our products, which are quite small in numbers, from neighbouring facilities like Singapore. Thailand, etc. Some electronic components are also sourced from its production unit in China. We are supplying to tier-1 component players like Bosch, etc and would respond to their requirements. So the bottom line is we don’t rule out making in India in the long term.

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