The 48th edition of Arab Health was held between 30th Jan and 2nd Feb of this year and Podrain was there. Spread over 20+ halls we needed all of the 4 days of the event to visit everything.
We visited Arab Health 2023 held in Dubai
Two of our customers were participating and it was great to visit their stalls and see some of our work in action. It was just as exciting to see so many innovative medical products from across the world. From European countries like Spain, Poland and the UK to the USA and Japan, there were a variety of countries. India also had a big presence at the event and for two lads from Kerala, it was particularly inspiring to see a large stall from the Start-Up Mission of Kerala at the event.
There was a large and busy India stall at Arab Health 2023
We’re seeing a lot of potential to support the export of Electronics Manufacturing Services for medical devices. As an ISO 13485 certified company we hope to be well-placed to take advantage of opportunities.
Next year we hope to visit again and see more of our customers present.
Las Vegas hosted the 2023 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show last week (Jan 5-8) and representatives from Podrain were there.
It was great to see products we have worked on, showcased. (Some of our customers participated in the show). We also saw many innovative products and product ideas and hope to find a way to contribute to making them a reality.
A Cool Robot on display at CES
As the premiere event for the industry in the world, CES attracts visitors from around the world. Even those new to the USA could navigate the event easily. The transport, logistics, and general flow of events were all professional and made the experience very smooth. Of course, with the location being Vegas, there were many attractions and entertainments outside the exhibition venue too.
India Pavilion at CES was at a prominent location
India had a good presence through the India pavilion. Since it was also the hall with new electronics products and gadgets as well as award winners were showcased, our capabilities got a lot of exposure. However, the participation from larger firms or even some of our MSME peers was quite limited.
In comparison, China and Taiwan have a significant presence at the event. Speaking to potential customers, especially those based in the USA and Europe, we realised they aren’t aware of India’s capabilities as a manufacturing partner in Electronics. China, Taiwan and Eastern Europe, in that order, are top-of-mind destinations. So the current India presence was a good move and there is a huge opportunity for Indian companies to pitch their services since many of these companies are looking to diversify their supply locations.
All in all, it was a pleasure and a great learning experience to attend CES. The electronics manufacturing services industry’s future seems bright! And at the next CES, we will hope to have many more product displays by our customers.
The 2019 filmFord v Ferrari, starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon, can be called a racing movie, or a David versus Goliath movie, or a mismatched buddy movie. As an entrepreneur, I saw it as all of those – but I also saw it as a movie with lessons about how the perspective of management has to change and adapt as a business grows from a startup with a prototype to an established production enterprise.
The movie tells, in a fictionalized recounting of history: how, in 1963, the Ford Motor Company begins its pursuit of an audacious and near-impossible goal.
Ford v Ferrari is an entertaining movie with valuable lessons
Henry Ford II is dissatisfied with the state of the company his grandfather founded, and wants to shake things up. Young hotshot executive Lee Iacocca comes up with an idea: acquire Italian car giant Ferrari and its famous stable of hand-crafted marques. Ford isn’t enthusiastic, but allows Iacocca to make the approach.
Enzo Ferrari doesn’t want to sell his company, and says so with some rather creative and colourful insults. Infuriated, his pride hurt, Henry Ford II seeks revenge. He declares that Ford will defeat Ferrari at the prestigious, brutal La Mans 24-hour car race – a race that no American car has ever won.
He hires Shelby Carroll (Damon), a former champion racer and now car builder, and Ken Miles (Bale), a hotheaded engineer and driver. The movie recounts how they went all out to design, build and finally race a car that would win at La Mans and restore Ford’s wounded pride.
Though the movie title is Ford v Ferrari, the rivalry between the two is really just the catalyst that sets the plot in motion. The story is really about the two mavericks, Shelby and Miles, and their experiences working with the Ford Motor Company as they develop the world-beating car that Henry Ford II demands. Both men are creative, open to experimentation, and have hands-on experience of how races – and racecars, and drivers – operate. Their confrontation is not with Ferrari, but the ‘company men’ of Ford: the men who adhere to the corporate way of doing things because they are convinced that the tried and tested processes and procedures are the best.
In a memorable scene, Shelby’s proposal, in a red binder, goes through fully fifteen mid-level managers around the Ford HQ. All of them are cautious, reliable, trustworthy, solid and intelligent men. But this is an unprecedented project with a high degree of uncertainty – i.e., a prototype.
Shelby was a racing driver before he became a car designer and builder, and instinct honed by years of experience tells him what needs to happen for the project to succeed. How does he know? He just does. But the mindset of Ford’s middle management is different. This, after all, is the place where mass production was perfected. What they want is reliable, repeatable, structured and iterative answers – in a word, predictability.
This scene beautifully illustrates the contrast between the mindset required for prototyping – flexible, creative, willing to trust that years of experience can speed up decision-making to the point where it almost seems like a miracle of intuition – and that required for production, where it is vitally important for every stage and step to be carefully planned, executed, supervised and documented.
Both perspectives are important to the success of any entrepreneurial effort. Shelby and Miles, however brilliant they were, would have been very unlikely to beat Ferrari at La Mans without the money, facilities and production power of the mighty Ford Motor Company at their backs. When they want something done, it gets done because the company has the muscle to get it done. At the same time, Ford would not (and historically, did not) have much success building a La Mans-winning car without the experience and experimental, creative attitude of Shelby and Miles. The company struggled to solve the basic challenge of keeping the car moving for 24 hours without overheating or catching on fire.
The movie shows that being flexible and open to new ideas, adapting and pivoting as needed is a vital attribute of management when developing prototypes and new answers to challenges. Once the solution is determined, making it consistent and repeatable demands the rigour and discipline of the production mindset.The wise manager cultivates the ability to do both – and the ability to know which one to apply in which situation.
I highly recommend Ford v Ferrari to my fellow entrepreneurs: it’s a highly entertaining movie with superb racing scenes, great acting and some very funny dialogue, and it delivers several excellent lessons about business, management and leadership that any businessperson can relate to.
So, did all the hard work of Shelby and Miles, and the hard lessons learned by the Ford Motor Company pay off? Yes – in 1966, the Ford GT MK II defeated Ferrari at Le Mans, and just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, they did it again the next year.
The Goal by Eliyahu M Goldratt is among the most important management books of the 20th century. It has significantly influenced my journey as a professional engineer, employee and entrepreneur.
My first manager gave me the book when I started my career twenty-odd years ago. I am grateful for many gifts of learning from him, not least of which is that he placed this book in my hand. It made a huge impression on me, as did his act of trusting a green 24-year-old with so much responsibility and giving me a great tool to learn how to deliver.
The book is written as a novel, quite different from the majority of management books. Most of the action takes place in a manufacturing plant. The protagonist, plant manager Alex Rogo, is facing two crises: his supervisor has given him a 3-month ultimatum to turn around the plant’s fortunes, and his wife has left him. One day, Alex meets his old professor at an airport and begins a series of conversations that help him identify his true goals and navigate towards them. By using this novel-like structure, Goldratt is able to lay out several valuable ideas without preaching.
As an engineer on the factory floor, I could easily relate to the lessons of The Goal. The concept that stayed with me the most was what Goldratt calls bottlenecks. The common-sense principle is that the weakest part of the system constrains the efficiency of the whole system. But there are lessons everywhere in The Goal, and as I gained more work experience, I began to appreciate them even more. When the entrepreneurial bug bit in 2014, seeing the principles of The Goal in action influenced how I approached the setup and operation of the business.
Here are a few things I learnt from The Goal:
Know the ‘true’ goal
If we don’t have clarity on what we are trying to achieve, we may waste a lot of effort without making progress.
Identify the bottlenecks
Everything is interconnected, and the weakest part holds the stronger parts back. So, understanding how things are connected, finding and focusing on the constraints is vital to getting better results.
System is more important than its parts
Designing a system or process that is more efficient is key – even if it means that a few individual steps or parts are less efficient. In other words, when we think of optimization, we should think big, because local optimizations may interfere with each other.
Knowledge and help are everywhere if we just look
Alex Rogo is trying to do everything himself and failing miserably. Over time, he realises that he and his team – all people with years of experience – can do more collectively than any of them were able to do on their own. Even his wife, who knows nothing about his work, contributes to solving some of his most pressing challenges because she has a fresh perspective
A fresh environment can give birth to new ideas
The problems at the factory are overwhelming, and the questions posed by Alex’s professor seem unanswerable until Alex takes his son’s hiking club on an outing. He is then able to relate the problem of how to keep the kids together and reach their campsite on time to the issues he is facing at the plant.
Asking people can be better than telling people
Alex’s professor never tells or advises. Instead, he asks Alex and his team questions that force them to think and work things out for themselves. Because of this, they develop the habit of considering things carefully, collaborating, finding their own solutions, and figuring out the right questions to ask.
The Goal was first published in 1984. Many great, transformational ideas about management, operations, systems and other concepts have come about in the four decades since then, but the fundamental lessons of the book remain relevant even now. They apply to any industry, even those that did not really exist in their current form in 1984, such as software and services. As the book demonstrates, the ‘bottleneck’ framework can even be used to deal with the challenges in our daily lives.
Over two decades after I first read it, The Goal is still very meaningful to me and I often gift it to others (most recently, our Head of Operations). I highly recommend The Goal to entrepreneurs, employees and anyone who is looking for a rational approach.
The past two years have offered some harsh lessons to all in the PCBA industry on the value of inputs. For a long time, the cost paid was the only consideration. The supplier might be located on the other side of the world, but if the cost was marginally lower, the choice was clear. But the pandemic changed all that. The cost of logistics / transport that used to be negligible ballooned beyond expectations. And for some parts – no matter what cost we were willing to pay – the availability just did not exist.
In India, we import more than 90 percent of the components required for assembling PCBs locally. These imports come from 4 countries – China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia. A break down at one source country, as we saw in 2020 and 2021, drives up the cost of doing business for all.
Here’s our experience with supply trends for some of our major inputs:
Bare PCBs are the stronger point in our supply chain. We have seen reliable suppliers of Bare PCBs based in Tamil Nadu and in Gujarat. We (and many of our customers) have been able to source Bare PCBs in the past 18 months with no major issues. Supply lead times have remained consistent and price increases have stayed within tolerable limits.
Machinery needed for PCBA is mostly manufactured outside India by majors like Yamaha, Fuji, Panasonic, and Siemens. While prices have stayed stable, lead times have increased considerably. What used to be available in 4 weeks now takes 4 months to get delivered. We’ve had to plan and order earlier than ever before for any capacity enhancements or repairs and replacements.
Other Components / Services:
Integrated Circuits (IC’s), their component resistors, capacitors et al, solder paste etc. are mostly imported and have all seen prices and lead times zoom up. 52 weeks is now the new normal! Companies like Micron, TI, Cypress, Infineon, Latis, NXP have factories based in China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. When supply and manufacturing centers were shut and major ports slowed down, component shortages have visibly hit every industry from automotive to computers and mobile phones. Even stocks held by major distributors Avnet, Future, Arrow, or online suppliers like Digikey, and Mouser could not tide the industry over for long.
This is the area where India needs to attract investment and build manufacturing capacity.
The government has already recognised the need for building an electronics components manufacturing ecosystem. It is doing its part by offering Production Linked Incentive programs and other sops to encourage manufacture of components in India. It is now up to us in Industry to pick up the challenge and partner in building a strong local eco-system for components.
The global human population is projected to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050. Food security is a critical concern worldwide. Resource availability, distribution and access imbalance, higher agricultural and dairy output, and sustainability are major challenges.
The Indian agriculture sector is valued at over $370 billion. It employs 40% of the population and contributes nearly 20% of India’s GDP. Agritech is vital to ensuring our nation’s food security issues. A 2020 E&Y study estimated that the Indian agritech market could reach $24 billion in the next 4 years. Another study put the number at $35 billion.
Indian Agritech has great potential
Over 1,300 Indian startups are working in this space as of October 2021. They use AI, ML, IoT and other digital technologies to improve productivity, efficiency, revenue and profitability for farmers. In 2020, Indian agritech startups received $242 million in funding in just ten months.
These startups offer a range of products and services including sensors, signal conditioning, processing and security, power management, connectivity, and positioning. As a precision-engineering EMS manufacturer, Podrain works with IoT-driven agritech startups to create the hardware required for smart farming. Some of the many applications are:
Precision agriculture and farm management.
Geospatial and weather data, IoT sensors for humidity, temperature and other variables, resource and field management, energy and water use, and robotics on farm equipment.
Farm infrastructure and equipment.
Industrial automation using machinery, tools and robots to seed, harvest, and handle materials. Greenhouse systems, temperature and humidity monitoring, environmental controls, irrigation and water management, heating and ventilation monitoring.
Dairy farm optimisation.
IoT sensors monitor the health parameters, milk production, eating patterns and nutrition, fertility and reproductive cycle of individual cows, and overall herd health. Diseases can be detected early. Digital milk analysis devices measure fat and water content, SNF and contaminants at every stage.
Cultivation and land use.
GPS data have applications in land mapping, soil quality, crop placement, soil sampling, weed identification, determining the right time to harvest, pest management and optimum pesticide use, and water availability and irrigation, among many others.
PCBs are a foundational component of IoT-based digital technology. Podrain has vast expertise in developing customised solutions and solving highly complex problems for our clients. We apply our talents to the vital area of agritech. It presents a large and growing opportunity to harness the power of digital technology to improve the quality and quantity of agricultural and dairy output, and the economic well-being of 40% of India’s population.
India’s Aerospace and Defence (A&D) market is estimated to grow to around $70 billion by 2030 with government encouragement and improving infrastructure. There are opportunities beyond commercial and military aviation. Private players are entering new areas like unmanned flight, space transportation and commercial satellites.
When most people think of India and space, they see VSSC and ISRO. In recent years, several impressive private startups have entered the domain. These startups are driven by strong R&D, and they are changing the profile and perception of Indian high-tech. Here are just a few:
Asteria Aerospace combines robotics and AI to create customised hardware products and software solutions for UAVs.
Bellatrix Aerospace, incubated at IISc, develops in-space propulsion systems and orbital launch vehicles.
Agnikul was incubated at IIT Madras, and is part of the Airbus Accelerator. This company uses 3D printing to build launch vehicles and engines.
Dhruva Space, based in Hyderabad, is a National Award-winning start-up that offers full-stack space engineering solutions from ground stations to launch solutions and satellite platforms.
Skyroot Aerospace is developing Earth-to-space transportation systems for both materials and people.
These startups, and many others like them, are based on the combination of decades of space research expertise from ISRO and VSSC, and the new generation of IT entrepreneurs. The new entrepreneurs have an understanding of how to win over investors with deep pockets and the appetite for risk.
This industry faces two unique challenges: massive amounts of capital and long development cycles. Companies in this area are not just developing software. They are building physical products which must go through an extended design, development and testing process, are highly regulated and require precision engineering.
Ancillary manufacturers of aerospace components and assemblies face new challenges to supply these startups. Aerospace-grade materials and components require special design, materials sourcing, transportation, manufacture and storage.
PCBs used in aerospace equipment must be able to withstand extreme temperature, high humidity and excessive vibration.
Their lifecycle must be measurable in decades.
In some cases, replacing a PCB may be nearly impossible – for example, a PCB used in a GPS satellite.
Aerospace PCBs must be absolutely uncontaminated to perform reliably.
PCB size is severely restricted by the high cost of transporting equipment to space.
Aerospace PCBs are also highly complex, requiring double-sided and multi-layered designs.
Many of these challenges have no Earth-bound equivalent. Replacing a PCB in an aircraft engine is expensive, time-consuming and complicated, but it is possible; replacing one used by an orbiting satellite is near-impossible. Solving these challenges requires new and revolutionary thinking at every step of component/assembly manufacture.
Podrain works with several of these startups. We are AS9100-certified as a top-quality manufacturer for the aviation, space and defence industry. Podrain is one of the few EMS companies in India with this level of quality. This is an exciting new industry for us. There are many new challenges and problems to solve. The possibilities are only growing.
Will private spacefaring companies be able to sustain and be profitable in the long run? India’s low-cost, improvisational manufacturing philosophy and engineering expertise make Indian EMS companies perfectly positioned to manufacture aerospace components. Podrain sees huge domestic and international potential for Indian EMS companies as space becomes democratised. Podrain stands ready to seize the opportunity.
The government’s Make in Indiastrategy demonstrates how important MSMEs are to India’s growth story, but capital is still hard to get. If you are considering launching a startup, here are some things to keep in mind:
KEEP FRIENDS, FAMILY AND FOREIGN FUNDS CLOSE
Most credit schemes are aimed at MSMEs that are at least three years old. If your company is newer, informal sources like family and friends must be part of your fundraising strategy. Quite often, this means looking abroad for help. Even if you are looking at a VC / PE funding, the Indian ecosystem is in its infancy and you are likely to go beyond India’s borders. But this can lead to a problem. Indian financial institutions need at least 75% Indian ownership to qualify you for most of their loan products. This is intended to encourage Indian entrepreneurs, but as a startup that might be considering all options for support – make sure foreign investors hold less than 25%.
CAUTION: COLLATERAL AHEAD!
Typically, financial institutions ask for collateral that equals (or exceeds) the loan amount. This can be a term deposit or a mortgage on your home. Indian financial organizations are very cautious about lending. Read the loan terms carefully and include all supporting documentation with your application.
PLEASE MIND THE GAP
TheSmall Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)was established to bring MSMEs and capital together. This is excellent news for MSMEs but the execution is not perfect. Rules can be unclear and confusing. Decision-making does not always follow the on-paper criteria. If your application is rejected, you may not know why.
Government schemes to support MSMEs working on Covid-19-related projects face similar challenges. Companies that qualify for credit on paper may still be rejected without an explanation.
WHAT CAN CHANGE
Podrain’s experience has taught us that patience is key. It also helps to have an experienced, trusted financial advisor or mentor who understands the options and provides guidance on processes and documentation. Some signposts and directions from financial institutions will make navigating easier.
MSMEs should be able to quickly and easily understand what each regulator is responsible for. Clearly stated eligibility rules for each scheme and a simple explanation of the risks and benefits of each option will help entrepreneurs who are not always financial experts make the right choice. A single-window approach to clearances will make MSMEs’ search for capital much easier. Regulators can also help to match MSMEs with the right funding source for their needs. We can then rely on financial institutions and their lending officers for guidance on the right capital products and schemes.
Financial institutions also need to look beyond traditional collateral-based criteria. Very often these show only the borrower’s existing financial strength and not the intent to repay. To help new MSMEs get started, lenders may consider performance-based criteria to approve loans. For example, whether a startup pays its employees’ salaries, its taxes, and its statutory dues (GST, PF, etc.) on time is a good indication of its intent to pay. Market-based criteria used by PE/VC funds may also be used with modifications that reflect the lower risk appetite of the lender. These forward-looking strategies are consistent with the idea of financial institutions as partners in the Indian MSME growth story.
By adopting a partnership mindset, financial institutions can make capital more easily accessible to MSMEs who want to Make in India.
Many recent news articles have pointed out the effect of semi-conductor chip shortages on automobile output. There will be 7.7 million fewer vehicles produced and over $210 billion in revenue lost in the year 2021 according to some reports.* This has taken many consumers – who don’t realize the extent of shift in automotive technology – by surprise.
Cars now contain more electronics than ever and their share is only growing. According to this research reportfrom McKinsey & Company, software and electronics have become the focus of most automotive companies. Power Electronics, growing at 15% , sensors at 8% and ECU’s /DCU’s growing at 5% plus will drive the global size of the automotive electronics industries to $469 billion by 2030.
At Podrain Electronics we are working with automotive OEM’s and other players as they ride the wave of change.
Automobile OEM’s are shifting gears into electronic mode:
Automobile components that were previously electrical or mechanical systems are now getting an electronic layer. For example, we have worked with a major Indian automotive manufacturer on the prototype “anti-pinch” window sensors for their new range of SUV’s. The electric motor, which operates the power window is fitted with a sensorthat can sense any obstacle and stops the winding action. Parents of fidgety children who like to put their hands out of a window or pets who like to stick their noses out into the breeze can drive easier, knowing this technology will keep them safer.
This example is the tip of the iceberg. Sensors are being used in engine, power, steering, braking and acceleration systems converting automobiles from electro-mechanical machines to electronic & software devices. For examples, a tire manufacturing OEM client of ours is integrating electronics to create a Tire Pressure monitoring system that will enable them to optimize tire pressure based on weight of the load, road and environment conditions. The ability to remotely monitor the performance of their products opens up new opportunities to provide extended support , warranties and differential pricing for them.This is only one example of an OEM whose product and commercial model are changing to suit the times.
Fleet Management & Allied Services need electronics in automobiles:
We have supported clients for GPS and Vehicle Tracking Systems manufacture – another growing space of automobile electronics. There are several use cases for Fleet Management Solutions. They help track on-time arrival and departure of vehicles, fuel consumption, route monitoring and modification, safety tracking etc. Fleet management solutions and Asset Tracking are often done by other businesses and not by the Original Equipment Manufacturer. According to Mordor Intelligence this will be a USD 22 billion in 2026** and we certainly expect to help many of the companies in this area.
The future of mobiility – whether you choose a traditional fossil fuel vehicle, an electric one or a hybrid – certainly involves electronics!
If you are looking for electronics manufacturing services support for your company contact us and we will get back to you at the earliest.
PODRAIN ELECTRONICS: PROTOTYPE PCBAS WITHOUT COMPROMISING ON QUALITY.
India’s Electronics Manufacturing Services Industry is poised to grow six-fold to $152 Billion in the next 5 years according to some industry body estimates. Podrain certainly believes this growth forecast is possible.
Our increasing participation is being driven by a few factors.
We have a large market within India for electronics in different sectors. Whether it is cars and tyres, electronic vehicles and their charging stations or medical equipment, products from all of these industries are set to have high-end electronics embedded in them. Products that were previously electrical or mechanical are being upgraded with the addition of electronics. Intended for both the global and local markets, India’s 700+ electronics manufacturing services companies can all grow and there will be room for more players too. The speed with which Ola Electric has ramped up its manufacturing capacity or the success that Dixon Technologies has seen in contract manufacturing are examples that have been making the news in recent times.
At Podrain, we have witnessed this potential over the past 4 years. We’ve worked with traditional companies looking to move into the new digital age. Can adding electronics help a tyre manufacturer offer new business models? Can a traditional watch manufacturer move into the digital wearables business? Can a UPS perform better, delivering uninterrupted up time despite frequent power failures?
We’ve also worked with startups building products that are completely new and innovative – a medical testing device smaller than your set top box. Or an under the pillow device that can revolutionise healthcare. Or a monitoring system that allows parents to safely track their children. The possibilities imagined by our clients promise an exciting future.
Besides the push by private companies there is increased government focus on improving indigenous manufacturing capabilities in defence and aerospace.
Apart from demand side drivers, there are supply side factors influencing India’s position in the Electronics Manufacturing space. COVID 19 disrupted supply chains globally and many players, who had never looked past China are now looking at other countries to base manufacturing operations. Major global manufacturers such as Hon Hai, Electroplast, Wistron are setting up facilities in India. The government has also been incentivising manufacture of electronics products with tax breaks, more attractive labour laws, SEZ creation etc.
The future looks bright for the Electronics Manufacturing Sector globally and for India in particular.