Monday, April 12, 2021

Interview - Harpreet Singh Wahan (FW Murphy - India)

India is an evolving market and we are here to cater to the requirements



FW Murphy products globally have earned a formidable reputation of being rugged, user friendly and perfectly suited to the application they are made for. The company’s product line which includes engine instrumentation, equipment displays, controllers, custom panels are all part of the Total Integration solutions offered by Murphy. Their solutions have always found takers among major Construction & Mining equipment manufacturers, Engine manufacturers, Oil & Gas segment, Locomotive and even Marine customers who continue to rely on them for monitoring, managing and protection of their engines and equipment. HARPREET SINGH WAHAN, GENERAL MANAGER, SALES & MARKETING, FW MURPHY - INDIA responded to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES queries




Give us an understanding of FW Murphy’s presence in the country and the role it is playing in various project areas? 


It is not as if we are new to India. FW Murphy is a very well-known name in the diesel engine segment. FW ‘Pat’ Murphy, our founder modified the basic gauge  into a “Switch Gauge” in 1940’s which was then adopted by engine and equipment manufacturers globally as a safety net for monitoring Oil Pressure and Water Temperature. So basically when it comes to diesel engines and equipment which use engines as a prime mover – we are invariably there. Our customers include engine manufacturers, manufacturers of construction and mining equipment, pumps, compressors, Oil & Gas equipment, material handling equipment,  locomotives and marine equipment. We have been serving India from our UK operations for close to 35 years now. Cummins, ONGC, OIL India, Atlas Copco, Komatsu, Shantui, John Deere, Schlumberger, BEML and BEL are some of the customers which we have been serving over the years. In 1990 the company actively moved into CANJ1939 based controls. These are used on equipment’s that use the modern Electronic engines. In 2011, we as a company decided to enter India on our own because of the changing nature of Off Highway equipment. In the changed scenario you needed to be closer to the customers as many of our customers are first time users of electronics and electronic engines on their equipment. For them to get support from the UK, US, Germany, Japan is not very convenient. That is why we thought it necessary to set up a permanent operation in India.




Tell us about your operations here in India?


We have a Sales and Application Engineering setup here in India catering primarily to the Indian Subcontinent. All of our products though are manufactured in our 5 manufacturing plants across the US and the UK. The customisation based on our customer requirementis done entirely by our team in India. Our application engineers interact closely with our Indian customers to understand how we can add value to their equipment. Their needs and operating patterns are very different from what it is in the western world. So a product just cannot be offered with a confidence that ‘It will work’. There is lot of application and segment knowledge involved in making a solution successful. Some products have gone back to the drawing board with modifications brought in from our experience in India. In other cases, for example, displays need to be fully waterproof in India partly due to a lot of non-cabin use and cleaning practices in our country. We sell the same global technology and products in India but there is a heavy local touch to how it is handled. That is what differentiates us from a lot of companies who directly bring in their products and expect them to sell in India.




Tell us about the range of equipment that you manufacture?


Enovation Controls globally caters to customers in 5 major industry segments – Mining & Construction, Marine, Oil & Gas, Engine Manufacturers and Engine Fuel Systems. We manufacture right from engine sensors to engine control panels, electronic I/O modules to CAN J1939 Controllers, Interactive displays to complete equipment dashboard solutions. We use these products and solutions to integrate complete OEM equipment including Engine parameters, Hydraulics, Transmission, Safety, Payload and other operational aspects of the equipment.




Is India a technologically challenging market?


I would say the market itself has not been exposed to technology and the benefits it brings with it. We, at Murphy, in fact, spend a lot of our time actively discussing and at times educating our customerson the benefits of using the correct technology. I would like to stress on the use of “Correct” technology for the application. Very often users have used generic technologies just because they get the work done. It’s when the equipment goes on the field that they realise that it cannot stand up to the rigours that particular application demands. Some users then go into their shell and even become technology averse. It’s been about 30 months since we started operations in India and I am very pleased with the response we’ve received. We have close to 8-10 projects which are today in process and 6–8 before them having started giving revenues.




Is cost sometime a deterrent?


The market is changing and fast. Three factors are driving the total operating costs upwards – increasing cost of equipment due to mandatory emission compliance and escalating raw material costs, the demanding end user who wants projects completed faster and more efficiently and thirdly, the ever-rising labour costs. Increasing the electronics content in these equipment helps cover most of these points. Costly equipment needs to be protected and the electronics we build in does exactly that. The same technology say inform of a display provides valuable information to the operator which helps him do his job being better informed and thus improving efficiency and accuracy. So you could have a 4.5 inch or a 7 inch Murphy display which provides him a constant source of information about various performance and safety parameters which he could earlier not observe. Let me say that the same information you see in a high end car is brought to construction or mining equipment but in a much more rugged and “correct” form. We today work with equipment that sells from as low as 6 lakhs to equipment that sells for about 2.5 Crores. So once someone understands the value the technology brings to him and his equipment – cost is not a major factor.




Do you have a role to play in OEM aftermarket services?


We directly do not participate in after market sales because the customisation done for a particular OEM’s equipment is for them only and they own the configurations and the customisation. All the aftermarket revenue and sales naturally goes through the concerned OEM. However what we do is we participate a lot in providing training to their end customers – again primarily due to the low awareness levels on electronics. Myself and my team travel across the country to Coal mines, Iron ore mines, Construction contractors, Loco users, Engine users, Drill Rig users etc. basically training them and learning first hand their experience and expectations.




How technology conscious is the Indian equipment marketplace vis a vis other countries?


The industry is evolving and people now are increasingly look at technology to improve the overall user experience they provide. Asset monitoring and Equipment safety which were not very high in our priority list are today gaining importance.

Owners want to monitor their assets to exactly know how their equipment is being used or even abused. This is an evolving market in India and we at Murphy are here to cater to the Indian customer requirements. On a generic comparison, if European equipment purely in terms of electronics used would be on 10 then most American equipment would be at 9, Chinese equipment on a 7.5 and Indian equipment on a 6. The Chinese manufacturers took to competing globally as early as 2005 but we are just about getting ready to go global. The future looks great though.




Tell us about FW Murphy’s focus on research and development?


Murphy strongly believes investing both in  Innovation  and  Core  Engineering. Today, besides manufacturing,   engineering is probably the biggest department in the company. What our Chairman believes is not inventing or innovating behind closed doors but working closely with our customers on all fronts. This keeps us in close touch with the marketplace and our customer who continue to provide insights into how they see their business and segment evolving. There is a lot of knowledge sharing. Though most of our work is primarily instrumentation, software and mechanical engineering based there are two things common among all our employees; one they listen to the customer and understand applications and two they have an entrepreneurial spirit which drives them forward.




Are you looking to have your own manufacturing set up in India? If Yes, where?


Yes, we have been evaluating the option of setting up a manufacturing plant in India. With economic conditions expected to be on an upswing moving into calendar year 2015, this is more of a possibility now than before. Pune has the necessary manpower, infrastructure and also an established customer base for it to be our obvious choice.  





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