Rajeev Antony, MD, Schüco India, explains how they have adapted to the Indian market, while keeping strong German standards.
BY Jayashree Mendes
How do you work out the designs for your products?
Schüco has a pedigree of more than 60 years globally. We have a policy that in every new country we approach, we launch our bouquet of global products as they fit in easily into local requirements. We also adapt specifications that are local and necessary from an Indian perspective. Schüco has a full-fledged design and development, which we call Technology and Product Management hub (TPM). They work continuously on new developments, upgradations, product extensions and product modifications, ensuring that the products are suitable to local requirements.
Aluminium systems are our core product. We take feedback from architects, local fabricators, local developers and the local sales team on designs. We have a product manager, who is an architect and is focussed to analyse and sense the current market trends and works in conjunction with sales and engineering team to work on future evolutions.
We are careful not to over-design because that will make us uncompetitive. At the same time, we maintain the Schüco global quality standards. With brand, comes a responsibility as customers have faith in the specifications we offer. Our customers trust us when we tell them that a product offered with an air permeability is 150 Pascals, they have an assurance, we mean what we say. That is because we always offer tested and certified systems only.
In terms of product development, how do you work with your parent company in Germany?
When we speak of local requirements, there are two elements. One is the technology and the other is sourcing locally. With the Prime Minister pushing Make in India, and though we are not a manufacturing company, we are a core sourcing company. We outsource our manufacturing.
In an Indian environment, since the last six years we are able to source locally for projects. Aluminium systems have two components, the accessories and aluminium profiles. About 80% of aluminium profiles are extruded locally, so we are part of Make in India mission chartered by the government of India. This makes commercial sense if with the same efforts, you can produce the same technology with same specification and without compromising on quality in India, then why not promote state-of-the-art manufacturing in India?
There are different aluminium profiles and one of the bottlenecks is the finish and tolerances. So, if size of profile is a constraint and no press in India could deliver the tolerances we can have the same sourced from the Gulf or Europe from our other international suppliers. As far as we are concerned, we would want our suppliers in India to follow the Schüco DIN standards or as we call it Schüco Norms (SN). DIN is Deutsche standards, and now there are EN standards, most of which are adopted from the DIN.
We have now extended the Technology and Product Management (TPM) hub to India, so Schüco has its first TPM hub outside of Europe. The only other two TPM hubs are in Germany & Italy. In comparison to last year, we have doubled our TPM strength in India who work only on global development projects.
What is different about Schüco’s TropTec range of systems?
When we launched our products in India, one of the requirements was that they be non-insulated. As a European company, with their main markets being the West and knowing the climatic conditions in those places, they seek thermally broken profiles and large sections. When we launched in India, we looked at profiles and articles that are non-insulated and our concern was that we should be able to manufacture here, could be extruded and also fabricated by Indian fabricators.
So, we mainly choose partners who have CNC machines but then on the other hand there may be a few good fabrication partners who may not have all the necessary machinery but are also able to invest and then adopt to the Schüco fabrication requirements. We branded it as Schüco TropTec products because it was for the tropical climate.
Could you tell us about the state-of-the art technology that helps you make doors and windows that are well-insulated?
When we say well insulated, there is thermal insulation and the other is the noise insulation. All Schüco systems are tested for thermal insulation to meet the requisite U-value if specified for the project. They are also tested with different glass combinations because we also need to know the decibel reductions that are possible. For example, if you offer a product which can reduce 32dB of noise it would be in combination with a particular glass because glass forms approximately 70-80% of the barrier and the remainder is formed by the system. If the system is inadequate, the outside noise will get in.
There can be combination of more than one parameter other than glass, like thermal break. For example, the ITC Sonar, Kolkata, has got thermally broken systems from Schüco with up to 45 dB noise reduction and these were tested in Singapore successfully for meeting such stringent project specific requirements.
How do you work with your fabricators end-to-end?
Currently we work with about 50 fabricators in India and, at any point of time, my guess is that about three dozen of them would be active with some on-going projects. We have our own growth aspirations and need the right partners.
We go through a stringent process of ensuring that the fabricators are of good repute, and are focussed on their own growth. Of course, they should qualify in terms of the technical requirements, must hire designers, offer training, have a good factory setup of which we do an audit and also a gap-analysis before associating. Small–midsize companies
usually are more inspired to grow since working with Schüco also helps them in a big way to have a steeper learning curve. For example, we have our own SchüCal software that is
used by fabricators for not only making the designs and units for the entire building, but also to measure optimisation at the time of manufacturing. Another software, SchüCal, allows one to make all the window unit drawings. It is used along with the Schüco CAD blocks.
Technical and service support to your end-customers and fabricators is a crucial link in the whole chain of delivering a true ‘Schüco’ experience. What are you doing to ensure the brand and product experience is similar in India?
This is all the more important especially in India where technical and service support to our fabricators and end-customers is a key element in whole decision making process. Schüco differentiates itself from other brands by the superior product, service quality and performance for windows, doors, sliders and façades which is typical of a German engineered product. Strict quality control ensures that the products are uniform in quality across geographies. We have a large team of technical and service support engineers/managers who provide all the necessary input, training, interventions to ensure speedy solution (pre-and post-sales) to any challenge faced by either the end-customer or Schüco fabricator partner.
Furthermore, through various showrooms and two experience centers, we give our customers a touch and feel of the products we offer in addition to the exhibitions and seminars that we drive in the industry together with an exhibitions company. These are all a part of the marketing and delivering good brand experience efforts that Schüco India undertakes.
Do you see Schüco in tier 2 and 3 cities across India?
Schüco is already present in selected tier 2 cities in India where we have already done some luxury private residence projects (villas, bungalows). The foremost important criteria in venturing into tier 2 or 3 cities is working with a fabrication partner who is qualified by Schüco and adheres to standards we set. This restricts our entrance to some smaller cities even though there are customer interested in our products. We have done quite a few projects in smaller cities with help of our fabricator partners based out of metropolitan cities. We keep evaluating the possibility of venturing deeper into newer markets within India. The evolution of façade market in tier 2 & 3 cities are slow, but steadily increasing year-on-year.