MUMBAI, INDIA — Injection press maker Toshiba Machine Co. Ltd. plans to expand capacity at the India factory it bought last year, and use it as a base to export smaller-sized hydraulic machines to North America and later add all-electric and large tonnage machine manufacturing.
Tokyo-based Toshiba bought the Chennai factory in August 2012 from Indian industrial conglomerate Larsen & Toubro, as part of a global strategy to give it better access to India and other emerging markets and build a network of lower-cost production bases throughout Asia.
At the Plastivision 2013 show, held Dec. 12-16 in Mumbai, the company began unveiling the fruits of that work in India, taking the wraps off two new hydraulic machines made using technology from Toshiba in Japan but adapted for manufacturing in India.
The Chennai acquisition plugs a gap in Toshiba's product range, giving the company its first smaller-sized hydraulics in over a decade, said Hiroshi Azuma, director of Toshiba Machine (Chennai) Pvt. Ltd. The company has focused on all-electric machines.
Beyond providing better access to India, the company said the acquisition gives it an opportunity to re-enter the global market for smaller-sized hydraulics and export the Indian-made hydraulics to North America.
The U.S. market for smaller hydraulics is more than 1,000 machines a year, and Toshiba believes it can capture 10 percent of that market by 2016 from India, said Koji Egashira, group manager of the injection molding machine sales department.
It's part of an overall plan to grow its sales in North America to 700 machines a year, including all-electrics from its factories in Japan, China and Thailand, and 300 machines in Central and South America in its fiscal year ending March 2016, the company said.
The two new Toshiba-branded, India-built machines unveiled at Plastivision are a 100-ton toggle hydraulic model and a 350-ton ram-style hydraulic.
It plans soon to add other models in the small hydraulic range, up to 450 tons, and plans slightly different versions of the machines for the United States and the local Indian and Asian markets.
The production of Toshiba-branded hydraulics is starting now, but at the Plastivision interview, executives also said they plan to expand capacity in Chennai to accommodate the next phases of their plan, to make large tonnage machines over 1,000 tons clamping force and all-electric machines.
The timing and specific details of the expansion are not yet decided, although at the Plastivision interview, the company suggested expansion is a priority but was delayed because of softness in India's economy.
“We wanted to expand last year,” said P. Kailas, managing director of Toshiba's Chennai operation. “We are ready to expand but we are waiting for the market to show positive signs.”
India's injection press manufacturers made about 2,700 machines in the country in the year ending in March, down from projections of 4,600 machines, Kailas said. The drop-off is mainly due to slowdowns in the automotive market, he said.
Azuma said the Chennai operation will also give Toshiba much better access to the African market, where the former L&T operation has a good sales network. “A lot of Indians invest in African countries,” he said.