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EQUIPMENT

Processing equipment manufacturing technology is not developed in India
Thursday, 18 August, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Harcha Bhaskar and Pushkar Oak, Mumbai
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The market of food processing industries in India, mostly comprises small and marginal players. In the food processing sector, 85 per cent of the market share is with small players while 8-9 per cent is with medium and only five per cent is with big players, according to a study by KPMG.

It is noted that while medium and big players mostly import critical component required by the industry, small players, due to their inability to pay huge bills, go in for locally fabricated machines and equipment.

Most of the technologies available in the equipment sector, which could be considered as globally- competitive, fall in the category of pre-harvest technologies. But now, with the food processing sector being identified as a high priority industry in India, the equipment sector is also gaining importance. The technology available in India in the food processing equipment sector is not much advanced when compared to the developed countries.

The processing equipment manufacturing technology is not developed in India in accordance with the food processing retailing opportunities. Still a large number of specialised equipment such as those used in bakery, meat processing and packaging are imported.

The Government of India has introduced a scheme for Technology Upgradation and Modernisation of Food Processing Industries during the 12th Plan (2013-17) under National Mission on Food Processing (NMFP). The main objective of the scheme is to increase the level of processing, reduce wastage, ensure value addition, and enhance the income of farmers as well as increase exports, thereby resulting in overall development of food processing sector. The scheme envisages to extend financial assistance for establishment of new food processing units as well as technology upgradation and expansion of existing units in the country.

Food processing machinery in India
As processed food end-users become more quality-conscious, it will become imperative for the sector to upgrade its equipment. The key factors, which affect sales to this segment, would be cost of the equipment, lower processing cost, assistance of financing agencies and smooth upgradation of their facilities. As in all cases, the presence of after sales support would be treated as a prerequisite.

All Purpose Machinery Lines: Several preferences for specialised machinery for homogenisers, mixers, ovens and others are common setups in India. All purpose machinery lines are popular in industries like beverage, dairy, bakery and confectionery, and meat and seafood processing. “The all-purpose machinery lines are now becoming a part of Indian scenario too. Several machine lines which operate for more than one product are now in practice like a common line can be used to process corn and mango which comes out as a packaged product on the other side,” states Nilesh Lele, secretary, Association of Food Scientists and Technologists of India (AFSTI [I]).

Turnkey Operations: V P Ramachandran, secretary-general, Process Plant & Machinery Association of India (PPMAI), said, “The Indian food processing and equipment industry is growing rapidly. Turnkey system machinery is very much in demand as it reduces space utility and reduces human resource. In fact, the Indian price for food processing machinery is competitive and now we concentrating more on exports.”

Specially Designed Machinery Lines: “Certain organised players in the market have their own dedicated departments to the machinery they use. The machinery is designed according to the food product being manufactured taking into consideration the laws drafted by FSSAI, the apex regulatory authority and other standards like HACCP and others. They create their own machines with the internal R&D teams. Suppose, if the land which a company has is small, the R&D team will analyse it and come up with a vertical module of machinery which will enable the company to save space and adapt to issues like this,” stated Rajan Das, metallurgist and process consultant based in Kolkata.

Software management services
Indian information & communication technology (ICT) sector has developed well in the last decade which has fostered in the development of software management systems used for handling food manufacturing machinery systems and complex manufacturing setups. These management services allow top-level managers to access and generate daily reports as and when they are required. Das explained, “The new manufacturing systems, today are a combination of softwares connected with huge machinery. These softwares are developed in India on a wider scale which are well-in-demand in the nations like UAE and other Gulf nations too. These systems allow ease in data generation with regards to the manufactured consignments, dispatched or stored consignments or for that matter, the customised data generations like total bottle-caps used, total bottle-caps in storage, newly-arrived bottle-caps.”

Equipment
Food processing equipment feature some of the most sophisticated automation around. But, most machines are assembled manually.That’s because high-mix, low-volume production is the rule rather than the exception. Food processing machinery comes in all shapes and sizes to meet the widespread demands of companies that produce beverages, bakery items, candy, dairy goods, frozen food, fruit, meat, poultry, seafood, snack food, vegetables and other edibles.

Rajesh Nath, MD, German Engineering Federation (VDMA), observed, “Equipment categories include chillers, dryers, feeders, fryers, grinders, homogenisers, mixers, roasters, separators, slicers and ovens. Most food processing machines have similar automation and motion control needs, such as material conveying and positioning, heating, drying and cooling. They also require cleanliness, gentle handling and precise control of temperatures, pressures, treatment times and other process parameters. In addition, food processing machinery is often seamlessly integrated with high-speed packaging and labelling equipment.”

He added, “Equipment and systems designed for the food processing industry share many of the same basic components used in discrete manufacturing but, the machines become even more complex once a labyrinth of digital sensors, pipes, transmitters, tanks, tubes and other components are added into the mix. And, food processing machinery must be capable of withstanding constant cleaning and disinfecting with all sorts of harsh agents, ranging from steam and water to alkaline solution, organic solvents, hypochlorites, iodine compounds and nitric acid. Above all, food processing equipment must meet strict regulations enforced by government agencies.”

Equipment features
Nath further stated, “There are two distinguishing features of food processing machinery, first if the machinery comes in direct contact with the food product, it must be fabricated from stainless steel, and be free from cracks and crevices that might retain food particles. In those cases, stainless steel surfaces—particularly corners and joints—must be ground to specific ‘smooth’ surface finishes to prevent the retaining of food. The second distinguishing feature of food equipment is very high processing and packaging speeds particularly in beverage and snack food processing lines.”

Those requirements make food processing equipment challenging to design and assemble. For instance, engineers must always consider ease of cleaning. As new niche markets emerge and new products are developed to whet consumer appetites, demand for food processing machinery will remain steady. The largest trend defining the world food processing equipment market today is similar to many other industries: rapid sales growth in developing regions, particularly Asia.

Advancements
Technological advancements in cutting, slicing and grinding machinery have also led to increased sales of these units over the past 10 years, as manufacturers replace older machines with newer products that boost their bottom line through either higher throughput or more efficient processing. Due to the incredibly broad range of machinery types and specifications demanded by food processing companies, the industry tends to be quite fragmented. With thousands of individual types of food processing machines produced worldwide, only the largest manufacturers can offer anything close to complete range of products. Most companies typically focus on producing machines that perform one specific task for a wide variety of food products, such as slicers or mixers or they offer a complete suite of equipment covering every stage of processing for a specific product, such as poultry.

Export-import of machinery
“The total market size of food processing equipment industry in India is estimated at US$1,571 million. The estimate is considering only the organised industry. There has been a steady increase in market and the overall growth of Indian market averaged at 25%, considering the four years ahead. Among India's total machinery production, only around 10% of food processing equipments are exported out of total domestic production, while 35% of total equipment agro-food processing equipment industry is imported. USA is the largest equipment exporter to India with around US$180 million worth of exports,” cites a report on Food Processing Industry in India, compiled by Technology Export Development Organization (TEDO), India.

Appreciation for 'Made in Germany'

Though there is no dearth of innovative technology in India, Indian manufacturers import basic technology from the developed nations. Later, it has evolved to innovate as per one’s requirement.
“Indian industry greatly appreciates ‘Made in Germany’ technology. If you look at the German exports to India in the field of food processing machinery, since 2011, it has been over 100 million euros, every year. Also, Indian industrial players are very much dependent. Only in 2014, it dropped to 94 million euros,” pointed out Das while citing India's dependency on German technology.

It is German technology which is superior to Indian ones in imports, but at the same time, its costs are high and government clearance is required. Gradually the scenario is opting for a change by mostly buying key technology from foreign nations and manufacturing the machines here according to requirements.

When asked if India is dependent on imports, Ramachandran said, “It is only some critical machinery which are imported by us. Whereas, certain areas like beverage processing equipment were always there in India but on small scale. Now even it is expanding in more scientific and technical way.”

After sales service
There's no denying the fact that customer service is important to a small- or mid-sized business. The quality of that service will either enhance or degrade customer loyalty to one’s brand and business. With the economy in recession, customers have more alternatives than ever. The business that proves to be responsive to customer questions, complaints, or other needs can gain a clear competitive advantage. That is why it is so important to understand how new technologies can help one anticipate customer needs, tailor business processes to best serve customers, and ultimately improve the efficiency of one’s business – the latter of which can keep costs down.

“Most of the after sales service is annual contract based where additional service cost has to be incurred by the company to whom service is to be rendered,” stated Ramachandran.

Forecast
Projecting the future of food processing industry, Nath stated, “India is expected to witness growth in packaged food, aerated soft drink, packaged drinking water and alcoholic beverage. So there would be a lot of requirement of equipment and machinery. Currently the processing equipment manufacturers of India are largely focussing upon milk and dairy, breweries and distilleries not in basic processed food. Especially the snack industry will undergo a significant growth.”

“There is also need for bakery equipment, confectionery machinery, meat processing machinery and packaging machinery which is proved by the German export numbers to India,” he added.

Many of the VDMA member companies have been represented in India for a fairly long time. In recent years, it could be recognised that subsidiaries are specifically established for the needs of the local production, meaning that machinery is directly built in India. Those machines are not only manufactured for the local market, but they are also exported.
 
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