Haas’ service record, company culture Prime for Graphite machining expert
They are the pioneers of graphite electrode machining in the country. They continue to dominate the Graphite Electrode EDM Market 8 Years after being the first to launch this Product commercially. True to their name, Prime Industries based in Nasik has become synonymous to graphite machining and the company has carved a niche for itself in the market – It is the First choice for Best Quality Graphite Electrodes in the Indian market.
“When we started the business, we wanted to be different. The practice was to import the graphite blocks, get it machined in small shops and sell it. So we decided to import the graphite blocks and machine it ourselves. We did not have any business background and experience, but we had the zeal to do something that will change the trend in graphite machining in the country,” Managing Partner of Prime Industries, Mr Ashish Chandra Varma said.
“The first thing that we did was to enter into an agreement with Japan-based Tokai Carbon as exclusive distributor for Indian sub-continent. We started with conventional machines like lathe machine, milling machine, drilling machine on which we machined graphite in the year 2000. Till 2008, we continued the same process and were regarded as innovation leaders. This prompted us to improve our infrastructure and that’s how we were introduced to CNC technology. Earlier, we were circumspect on using this technology while machining graphite due to its high capital investment, but as soon as we purchased the first CNC machine, we were convinced that we can use this technology to the core,” Mr Varma said.
As on today, the company has nine CNC machines. With a dedicated team of 125 people in its two units, Ambad and Dindori, Prime Industries has made it big in an industry where innovation and advancements in technology speaks volumes. With a 400-plus strong customer base in India, the company has developed a brand name that has strong goodwill in the market.
“For us, customer satisfaction is of prime importance and we never compromise on quality. We have a spotless service record and strong brand image since we machine graphite of a very high quality from Tokai Carbon. We have won trust of our customers by being highly competent as we have installed operationally excellent machines, have achieved economies of scale by investing in huge infrastructure and above all an experienced team. These competencies acquired in last 15 years safeguard us from competition,” Mr Varma added.
Carving A Niche
In order to explore growth opportunities, Prime Industries decided to manufacture graphite electrodes in 2008. It was an unexplored market as 80 percent of manufacturers used copper in EDM while only 20 percent used graphite Electrodes. The company wanted to change the perception as it felt that by using graphite electrodes, 50 percent of cost is saved because of graphite’s lower density, fast machining and solid value proposition.
“The manufacturing process involved in machining graphite is not different from that of steel or any other material. Graphite machining too requires milling, grinding, drilling as is needed for other materials. We are able to maintain end component accuracies of +-0.02 mm which is possible only because of new evolving technologies. Apart from CNC machines, we also have CMM, height gauge and other inspection facilities,” Mr Varma said adding, “The best thing about Prime Industries is that we purchase only brand new and Technologically Advanced machines and inspection systems.”
Decision Well Taken
“When we first decided to go for CNC technology in 2008, we looked at all the top, bottom and low-end machine suppliers. We took into consideration technical aspects of the machine, brand image, population of the machines and above all after-sales service record of each and every supplier before finalising Haas,” Mr Varma said.
On asked about the reason to zero-in on Haas, Mr Varma said no one in the company, including himself, had seen or run CNC machine earlier. They had discussed with dozens of suppliers as they wanted the best and were not brand specific. “We believe that ‘cheap in the short term results to be very expensive in long term’ so we wanted to go with top or mid-end brands. Since top-end brands were sceptical in supplying the machines suited to our requirement, Haas was open to discussions. We started by asking very basic questions to them as we were completely new to the technology. They answered all of our queries satisfactorily that helped us in building a trust with Haas people,” Mr Varma added.
Prime Industries today has six Haas machines that includes VF2, VF-3 with 15000 RPM and probing system besides other models that are all used for graphite machining. “I knew that CNC machining will be tough initially but it was made easy by Haas as we got excellent support from them in establishing these processes. Till today, we have manufactured around 1,00,000 electrodes of distinct designs. While machining graphite electrodes, we need a delicate approach and can’t afford a single bad day as every day is new challenge for us. EDM is all critical part and accuracy requirements are to be met. In this process, maintenance of machine becomes very critical. To address that, we have monthly maintenance schedules which are adhered to very strictly. Our oldest Haas machine is 7-years-old and I can say that it is giving us almost the same result as it used to give earlier,” Mr Varma said.
Apart from this, the company is happy with Haas for its quick response. “Earlier, when there was no resident engineer of Haas in Nasik, the response time was 8-10 hours, but now since they have their own resident engineer, the response time has reduced to merely few hours. Apart from that, the quality of service is also very good which shows the company’s culture. They never say no to anything and this is their biggest plus point. We are very happy to work with them,” Mr Varma said and added that since 2008, Prime Industries has added one Haas machine almost every year as their machines are getting better with each passing year which is not the case with others. Surely, Haas machines are worth recommending to other manufacturers.