August 2016 | Nithin Rao

Design rules

Tata Elxsi's focus on design competitiveness and product engineering highlights what India can do to become a global centre that delivers high-value solutions

Make in India is a powerful concept and a wonderful initiative, but it needs to be supported by technology capabilities for design and production in order to catapult the country’s industrial output to world-class levels. Without strong design capabilities, there is the concern that international manufacturers may consider India fit only for assembly and finishing, where value addition is low.

Tata Elxsi helps companies understand the Indian market and localise products to suit customer needs

That’s the thinking at Tata Elxsi and it makes eminent sense.

“We need to go beyond investing in skills development and manufacturing technology,” says Nitin Pai, senior vice-president for marketing at Tata Elxsi. “We need to provide for capabilities in design, technology and engineering to facilitate a higher order of value addition. This will also ensure the design competiveness of domestic products that compete in the Indian and global markets. If not, we will be just a nation of makers, not creators.”

Companies such as Tata Elxsi have already proved their capabilities in this space. As a pure-play design and product engineering company, which blends design, technology, creativity and engineering, Tata Exlsi helps customers transform ideas into world-class products and solutions. “With our India market consumer insights and India-entry strategy services, we help companies understand the Indian market and localise products to suit consumer needs,” says Mr Pai. Tata Elxsi also provides turnkey solutions across industries, from concept to manufacturing and sourcing support.

Mr Pai believes the Make in India initiative will provide a thrust to revive the manufacturing sector. “It will boost exports and strengthen the country’s production base. It will also boost employment. We have seen an active interest from both foreign and domestic companies, across sectors, in manufacturing products in India with higher levels of local value addition.”

The initiative is likely to push the innovation curve too, especially in sectors such as automotive. “Leading global brands like Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Renault have upped their productivity in the subcontinent,” says Mr Pai.

He points out that Mercedes-Benz launched 15 cars in India in 2015 and has promised 12 more by the end of 2016. “And Ford setting up its new global engineering and technology centre in Chennai is a testimony to the reality that India is fast being recognised as an innovation hub,” he adds.

Local research, design and product engineering capabilities are essential to support localisation. “We are delivering these services to companies across sectors to help reduce cost and enable better and differentiated products,” explains Mr Pai. “However, aspects such as infrastructure, access to capital and the skills development of shop-floor workers also have to be addressed,” he says.

To stay ahead of the curve, Tata Elxsi is investing in research and collaborating with leading educational centres such as the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, on programmes in the areas of affordable healthcare, environment-friendly transportation and communication for emergency and disaster response. The company is also collaborating with some of the Indian Institutes of Technology.

The goal is to develop technologies and products that have a broad impact on the society and the country. ‘Smart’ is the operative word here. Working in the areas of smart mobility, smart homes, smart healthcare and smart cities with businesses and government agencies, Tata Elxsi is thus a cheerleader, not just for Make in India but also for ‘design in India’ and ‘digital in India’.

A classy blend
Tata Elxsi is a design company that blends technology, creativity and engineering to help customers transform ideas into world-class products and solutions. It addresses the communications, consumer products, defence, healthcare, media and entertainment, semiconductor, and transportation sectors.

As technologies, industries and markets converge, each intersection presents challenges and opportunities for companies to innovate and deliver new and enhanced products and services. Tata Elxsi understands how these intersections can help customers create exceptional products, services and experiences to drive their growth.

The key services offered by Tata Elxsi are technology services and product engineering, design, visualisation and content development, and systems integration.

This article is part of the special report on the evolution and future of the concept of 'Make in India' in Tata companies, featured in the April 2016 issue of Tata Review:
Overview: Transforming India
India on the march
Tata Motors: Pathway pioneer
Tata Chemicals: Innovation attention
Titan Company: Time to watch this space
TAL Manufacturing Solutions: Source code
Tata Advanced Systems: World stage beckons