The future of welding is all about automation, robotics and IoT. With a mission to provide future-ready solutions, Kemppi is leading the industry and has taken up many initiatives in India. We caught up with Rashmi Ranjan Mohapatra, Managing Director, Kemppi – India, to learn about their products and how they are focused on preparing the people for exciting careers in welding. Here’s the Skill Story of Kemppi to tell you more…
Q: Tell us about how Kemppi has evolved as an industry leader in smart welding solutions.
A: Kemppi provides state-of-the-art welding solutions using latest technologies. It is a Finnish company with a partner network spread across 60 countries. With many firsts, Kemppi was the first company to launch inverter-based welding machine in 1977, followed by world’s first digital welding machine in 1993, TQM welding software in 2014, winning several awards for the design.
Kemppi has been in India for over 35 years with the first supply to Rail Coach Factory Kapurthala. The full-fledged India operations started in 2011, later expanded by opening Robotics Welding center in Pune in 2017. This year, two more centers would be opened in Delhi and Kolkata.
Kemppi is geared for Industry 4.0 with many futuristic solutions. Our welding manufacturing software is universal and it works like the ERP for welding industry. We expect more machines to be seamlessly connected using our smart welding technology. Just like any ERP system, Kemppi provides a holistic solution where core teams in an organization come together to plan, execute and monitor their production. There are many large organizations using our TQM welding software, where the ERP and welding team are involved and it gives a different dimension to their ERP system. These companies also encourage their vendors to use it since you can effectively manage the welding process by getting a first-hand view of the specifications being used and the outcomes.
Q: What are the ways in which you ensure training and capacity building for your customers and partners?
A: As far as training is concerned, our focus is on training our customers in using our products and solutions. Our customer base spreads across railways, automotive, defence, power and other industry sectors and they have different requirements in building capacity in welding.
Sometimes, in some critical welding applications, we need to handhold them, in terms of training the welder and training the trainer. So, we train the maintenance team of the customer while they also take care through their service teams, even though our products don’t need a lot of service and maintenance.
Welding needs a lot of push in India, both from skilling and education perspective. We started influencing the academia and training institutes by supporting 20 schools and universities for skill development in welding. There is a huge scope for job creation through welding but we lack skilled welders and most importantly, we have to build aspirational value and show professional growth in this industry.
Welding is critical to several industries. Currently, manufacturing contributes 14% to India’s GDP and we rank low when compared to BRICS countries. For India to grow at 20% or 25% , we need at least 3 million to 5 million welders. And there’s a severe dearth of skilled welders. if you have a structured program more people can come in, if they are trained in good welding skills and latest technologies, their scope of becoming employable will be high.
Q: As a leader and influencer, how do you establish industry-academia connect?
A: When people get trained in technical institutes like ITIs they are not industry-ready since they are trained in old technology. They are awe-struck when they join the work place. It is like giving a smart phone to someone who has been using a handphone; they are not prepared, there is a huge gap in using the technology. Hence, many companies train them for 6 months to 1 year and this can be definitely reduced if the students are exposed to latest knowledge and skills in their institutions.
Hence we started working with ITIs and colleges, by working with likeminded people to change the curriculum, first we started by training the trainers of various ITIs and engineering colleges and created awareness about new technologies, people couldn’t believe how the welding machines work. We are trying to bring in a change by helping them appreciate and explore the tools. Training the trainer is most crucial since they should know about the latest developments to be able to teach the students.
We have set up a CoE at an ITI by providing latest equipment in welding. The inverter-based welding machines are taken to rural places to create awareness among youth and attract them to the profession. They are encouraged to try their hands at welding. We’ve also broken the myth that is heavy to handle; the machine weigh 4.5 kgs. For women, who wish to join us, we give them personal protection gear – a helmet and jacket – free of cost . These incentives are showing good results.
Q: Kemppi has been able to attract women to welding as a profession, what are some of the initiatives in driving the aspirational value?
A: After training, we see that many take up a job in countries that pay them well, for example, most welders go to middle east for better salaries. This adds to attrition and raises issues about retaining the talent. One of the solutions we are trying out is by encouraging women to take up welding. They can bring in a balance in the ecosystem. We started by training 5 women and they got placed in a company where there are performing well. We’ve also started competitions for women welders as a part of our awareness and advocacy campaigns. We’ve also seen that women at better at manual dexterity and that’s where the trick of a welder lies, because after a while welding becomes an art!
When we think of welding, we usually visualize a road-side welder who is making a grill. Many are now aware that welding is at the core of space projects and Kemppi machines were used in building them. This makes us proud and similarly our solutions have contributed to many industries.
Similarly, whether it is a nuclear reactor or a gas pipeline, welding is critical and it is not seen by a lay person. Or even a domestic gas cylinder where the welds are critical, even if one weld fails, there can be a leak or a blast, imagine what can happen to the pipeline! This is a challenge to the welding industry and it amounts to how we maintain standards get alerted in case of any error.
Let me tell you about a welder who was recruited in Kemppi. He was 8th class pass when he joined and came with basic welding skills. After continuous training, he excelled and became the best welder in India. He represented India in international welding competitions in Shanghai and won third place in the world. He travels to different countries. He has become is a role model. Real life stories like this can create aspiration and it has helped in attracting people from few states to take up welding. It can bring more people to mainstream where the social fabric of the society is at stake, make them employable and transform their lives.
For professional growth, mobility of small welders is critical and they don’t get many opportunities. We are working with a design school; we have come up with a kit bag to carry the machine – with this their earnings can be much more by doing more work. Within a year this will have impact.