United Technologies Automotive is entering the plastic mold-analysis business by taking a long-distance passage through India.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based automotive parts supplier has purchased a minority interest in NTTF Industries Ltd., a maker of plastic-based automotive electrical products and tooling. The company, based in Bangalore, India, specializes in computerized mold-flow analysis and mold design.
That work especially attracted UTA, which until now has outsourced its mold analysis work, said Dilip Sundaram, manager of UTA's international business development. The company plans to position NTTF as its worldwide center for mold analysis and design, Sundaram said.
``We were very interested in the company's tool-analysis skills, and we think we can use it on a global basis anywhere we are in the world,'' Sundaram said. ``We're in the process of putting together a communications tool to build a bridge between India, the U.S. and Europe.''
Through computer software, UTA is developing a means to send tools back and forth globally for design work, Sundaram said.
NTTF, which expects to record $10 million in 1998 sales, was founded in 1964 as a charitable foundation supporting tooling education, said A. Gururaj, general manager for marketing with NTTF. Over time, the company's commercial injection molding and toolmaking work was launched, he said.
NTTF operates production facilities in Bangalore and Vellore, India, and has nearly 1,000 employees.
The company injection molds thermoplastic housings for small electrical components. That work includes combination switches that control windshield wipers and lights on a vehicle's steering column, door-locking electrical systems and junctions and fuse boxes.
NTTF has eight injection presses with clamping forces ranging from 30-180 tons, Gururaj said.
UTA's share of NTTF also gives the company access to the Indian market, seen by some automakers as containing large potential for future vehicle growth. Before the purchase, UTA had no plants in India, Sundaram said.
However, UTA runs 90 manufacturing, sales and engineering facilities in 19 other countries.
NTTF ships parts to the major carmakers in India, including India-based Maruti-Udyog Ltd. and Tata Engineering and Locomotive Co., known as Telco. The firm also serves General Motors and Ford in India.
The Indian supplier also has an extensive setup of computer-aided design software, such as Pro/Engineer and I-deas.
The company makes injection and blow molds, as well as jigs and fixtures, according to Gururaj.
UTA's minority stake in NTTF was not disclosed, but Sundaram said it was a ``significant'' percentage.