The T&M industry is today enticing. Changing business models based on Digital Connected Platforms and vigorous adoption of new technologies has determined current demands. Collaring more than two decades of prudence in different verticals of the Testing Industry; Shailendra Kalra, Country Head, Livingston India Pvt Ltd talks to BIS Infotech’s Consultant Editor, Niloy Banerjee expediting on the emanating landscapes of Indian T&M industry and Microlease prowess to churn the Indian market. Edited Nub.
- Connected, synchronized, miniaturization, 5G-ready technologies are dominating the current consumer and Industrial demand. Testing, in parallel, is also showing nobility in its technologies. In this scenario, How Microlease is mapping the market?
New investments in Next Generation Technologies both on the R&D side as well as the deployment testing. Not only investments in acquiring the right technologies for our customers but also changing business models based on Digital Connected platforms to suit the landscape. More SW based and Modular testing techniques being adopted with innovative and flexible business models to be able to address the changing testing needs. We are well connected with global R&D organizations who are a forerunner in 5G Technologies. We are continuously observing the new demands of customers and updating our global inventory worldwide.
2. As a company, how strong is your Indian presence and how you’re revving-up to tap the potential customers?
With offices in Bangalore and Gurgaon and delivery capabilities to every part of the country, I feel we have been able to establish the capability to serve all our customers and prospects. Also, with the opening of the Test Center of Excellence in Bangalore, we are trying to address the testing needs to SME’s and Start-ups. With a strong team of 30 people in India backed up by Global SME’s and world’s largest T&M equipment pool, we are well positioned to cater to the growing testing requirements. As a company, we stand committed to the Indian market and all necessary investments are lined up to cater to the unique demand of this market.
- What are your key offerings and how big is your inventory and R&D strength?
We are offering not only Rental and Lease services for the T&M products but also end to end management of our customers assets. With a strong SW platform suitable equally for R&D companies as well as any other organization that owns and maintains its own Test assets, we offer a variety of services that help our customers acquire, manage and dispose their assets and maximize the return on their investments. Apart from this, we have opened our Test Center of Excellence in Bangalore which is a ready lab available for any organization in the Digital, RF Semiconductor domain for testing their products.
- Reliability, efficiency, and precision drive the testing industry. How Microlease makes sure to shelf the right testing equipment and determines to cater the best-class products to its customers?
With strong partnerships with the leading OEMs in the T&M space, we are continuously investing in the upcoming technologies and equipment that can cater to the evolving testing needs. Our Product strategy and management teams ensure that the equipment being offered to the market is in line with the trends across various technologies, be it, RF technologies, Digital Technologies, Power or Industrial. The internal processes and systems that are followed within the company ensure that the equipment is always calibrated and complete with all accessories for the testing requirements of the customers. The average age of the inventory that we hold in generally less than 48 months which itself indicates that we are always engaged in refreshing the equipment and technologies that we bring to the market.
- Which companies products & respective technologies gets the major traction from Indian customers & which sectors are the major buyers?
In India, we have been catering to two major sectors, namely, Telecommunication and RF & Semiconductor. In the telecommunication segment, we see a lot of demand for testing equipment both in the Wireless as well as Optical domain given the fact that 4G networks are being rolled out to cater to the ever-growing demand for data. The key OEMs whose equipment we see more in demand are Viavi, EXFO, Spirent, PCTEL, NARDA, R&S, and Keysight. Major buyers in this segment are the Network Equipment manufacturers and their Services partners
In the RF and Semicon domain which also includes the Digital Communication interfaces, we see a lot of demand for Oscilloscopes, Spectrum and Signal Analysers, Signal Generators, Network Analysers, BERT Scope etc. The ley equipment manufacturers in this domain for which we get a lot of demand are Keysight, Tektronix and R&S. Major buyers in this segment are the multinational semiconductor companies and companies involved in the R&D for the next generation technologies related to 5G, IOT, Automotive Electronics apart from some of the big Engineering Service Providers like Wipro.
Other segments which are demonstrating the need for test equipment are Electronics Manufacturing especially handset manufacturing sector, Energy companies, and companies involved in Automotive Electronics.
- Can you share an anecdote on your unique business model of Rent and Lease Testing Equipment which seems to me ‘One of its Kind’ for the Indian market?
The concept of rentals is not new. Rental options are available for high-end automobiles, fashion and outfits, infrastructure machinery and tools. Traditionally in the technology industry, R&D engineers and organizations have owned the equipment that they needed for testing. The rate at which the technology was changing was much slower. However, in the last decade or so, the technological changes have been enormous and the life cycle of products has become shorter. On the other hand, the need to have a faster go to market has been ever increasing. This has led the organizations to rethink how they operate and adopt business models that can meet these requirements whilst protecting their investments. With the concept of the rental services in T&M equipment, we have demonstrated a business model that not only helps customers acquire the right technology at the right time at the right place but also maximize the use of their available budget and be protected from obsolescence. Apart from this other factors that result in an increase in costs and are generally hidden but contribute to the total cost of ownership like downtime whilst the equipment breaks down and is in repair, calibration and maintenance of the equipment, costs associated with management and disposal get addressed through this model wherein the customer pays only for the time that they actually use the equipment.
- India, as you see, is vigorously contributing to become technologically ample in the coming few years. The Test and Measurement Industry in India is also at its nascent stage. What challenges does Microlease perceive to stand a potent ground in future via the Indian Market Scenario?
Well, it is a very subjective question. For India to become the forerunner of the technologies, country, and industry to improve the innovation culture right from the school & colleges/ university levels. It can somehow be achieved with the culture of the real meaning of the internships and of course to promote innovations. For T&M Industry, I see tough price competition, import of low-quality products from China and high rate of GST rate` 18% are few challenges.
- It’s highly commendable that, Microlease has been in the T&M business for over 30 years catering to all the major names in the industry. Has there been any competitive pressure on Microlease? How does Microlease stand out from its competition in the market?
Yes! of course, there has been competition and it continues to be there. Competition for us comes in all shapes and forms. The biggest competition that we face is the buying mindset of the companies which they have developed over the last few decades. In the business of technology, the R&D cycles have been reasonably long and hence customers traditionally have been owning test equipment for long periods. However, this is changing now due to faster technological developments and higher obsolescence rates and of course rising cost pressures.
Apart from this, we have and continue to face competition from both local as well as International companies engaged in the same business. Competition, I personally feel, is healthy and promotes innovation. After all, it can sometimes get really boring also being the only player in the marketplace and can lead to complacency, which is the last thing we would want.
Our ability to cater to a large segment of customers through its Global presence and a huge inventory is one of the key differentiators for us. Also, this business has been evolving and growing over the last 3 decades and that shows how agile and dynamic we are in adapting to the customer and market needs and that continues to be our strength as we move along.
- Current scenario of T&M market in India and how is Microlease collaring to tap the major chunk?
India is emerging as the forerunner in the next era of tech innovations. The Indian ESDM sectors have witnessed the growth in recent years along with a shift in focus from pure-play systems or product designs to include area such as product development, original design manufacturing and so on. The high product quality, safety and environmental standards for manufacturing, maintenance, and use of equipment. The government initiatives Make in India, Smart Cities, Defense Manufacturing are pushing new requirements for TM business.
We have witnessed requirements coming from Semiconductor Hardware Testing (digital interconnects like HDMI, MIPI, USB, Ethernet), Automotive Electronics, Electronics (Automotive Sensors Integration, Vehicle Networking, and Communications) Manufacturing and General-Purpose Electronics. We have also observed regional Test Houses for EMI/EMC coming up in south and north and it is really a positive sign for local manufacturing. Telecom industry has been going through a phase of consolidation and tariff wars but continues to remain an attractive segment with a lot of potential especially in the wake of upcoming technologies like 5g-IoT.
- Any key new developments of the company in the last fiscal year which you would like to share it with our readers?
Over the last 2 years, we have gone through two major Acquisitions and that has made is bigger and better in terms of our ability to cater to the ever-growing needs of our customers. Last year we were acquired by Electrorent which has made us number 1 T&M Rental company globally with an inventory strength of over 108000 test equipment over 8000 product lines and the financial strength and capability to invest further into upcoming technologies.
- According to Microlease which key trends you reckon will shape the Indian and at large the global T&M market in coming years?
The technology is evolving every day. The next generation of the communication 5G will impact every business and day to day life. With the advent of the technology, other industries will change the curve. With more fast and connected world, Internet of Things, mmWaves Technology and next generation of the automobile will surely change the world where we live in. The fusion of the sensors, fast speed internet, machine to machine communication will lead to a more data-driven society. All new technologies will bring additional challenges and opportunities to T&M Industry to come up with new cutting-edge products before the final rollouts. This will ultimately lead a scenario for T&M organization working hand in hand with Technology Company to solve the future challenges and developing their own platforms solutions.