Foundries and component manufacturers should upgrade skills to compete in the global markets, Chief Executive of Audco India N.V. Venkatasubramanian said here on Saturday.

Inaugurating Sourecon 2011, the southern region conference of Institute of Indian Foundrymen, he said Indian foundries should focus on quality. Globally, safety and environmental concerns were growing and customers were reviewing safety standards. Customers were more vigilant and international governing bodies were reviewing casting standards. The castings should be of high quality to meet these needs.

Foundries should use updated software packages, produce scientifically sound castings, look at entire operations with an open mind, improve skills at all levels, and adopt modern technology. Productivity and manufacturing processes should be improved. The small and medium-scale enterprises should invest on tools to improve productivity and to modernise. Latest IT tools such as cloud computing should be adopted widely.

H. Sundara Murthy, vice-president of the institute, said though India was now the second largest casting producer in the world with eight million tonnes of production a year, China was leading with 36 million tonnes of annual casting production. Indian manufacturers need to explore ways to improve and retain the second position.

“We need to optimise all resources and give our customers the best.” Energy, raw materials and man power were the main resources for foundries. Larger units should handhold the smaller ones. Any investment on energy efficiency (capital investment) was now eligible for 25 per cent subsidy from the Union Ministry for Micro, Small and Medium-scale enterprises. The Union Government had allocated Rs. 600 crore for this.

Jayakumar Ramdass, chairman of the event, said the Indian metal casting industry was among the top three global manufacturers. India's economic environment was an advantage as there was a huge domestic demand. But there were challenges such as shortage of labour, tightening of environmental standards, and global competition. Foundries need to invest in capital equipment. “We need robust research and development programmes, improve public image, attract new talent, adopt best practices and have modern equipment,” he said.