From the discomfort Zone: Diametrically different

The German machinery company is the loser too. Not only does it not sell more machines, its engineering is being copied.

German machinery is the best but irrelevant to a section of the market. German machinery is the best but irrelevant to a section of the market.
Written by Shombit Sengupta | Published on:August 17, 2014 12:12 am

I’m making a provocative comparison between Indian and German engineering, how they are diametrically different, yet how both fail to deliver consumer benefit in diametrically different angles.

Germany, the World War II culprit, was thoroughly bombed by Allied Forces. Yet, the devastated nation regained its high quality engineering excellence to be recognised as the world’s best. Take a look at any German car. Behind the infotainment screen is extremely sophisticated technology. Auto air conditioning incredibly retains the set temperature in sunlight and in shade. Consumer demand in developed countries is so high on quality that engineered products become extremely innovative and complex in that highly competitive market. This invariably increases cost, but people living in the Euro money platform can afford expensive products.

In developing countries, German engineering is facing enormous problems. They fail to adjust German engineering excellence to be relevant to developing countries that require mass category and not premium or luxury products. An Indian customer of a German washing machine said it took two months for a technician to come for service after sales. The German company was not neglecting the customer, but in over-confidence believed their perfect machine could not have a problem. The customer was suspected of not knowing how to use the machine. Nor could the German company anticipate voltage fluctuation that paralysed the machine, so claimed responsibility is not theirs. It can be argued that if you are doing business in India, the first relevant factor to know is power not being of homogenous standard. So shouldn’t ingenious German technology be used to resolve the issue so the machine automatically adjusts to irregular power supply?

At the mass level, India requires auto vehicles to be high in quality, low in servicing need. Germans have an edge in manufacturing automobile parts and features, but I’m not sure how much attention they pay to support such requirements by reducing overdesign to fit Indian market conditions. Eg: A famous mass German car in India has 33 chips. Imagine the plight of the service garage!

German machinery for manufacturing different consumer products needs high standard, homogeneous raw materials. It has happened that Indian manufacturers who bought German machines have faced the dilemma of not being able to commission the machinery because the raw materials were not upto the machine’s required standard. They ended up tinkering with the  machinery to accept the raw ingredients available here. Engineers in India have not only adjusted the German equipment, they become adept at redesigning them to make duplicate machinery. Instead of buying another high-cost German machine, they end up installing three-four redesigned Indian machines at the same cost. Actually, it’s quite normal that stringent industrial design discipline makes German machines so precise that the machine does not accept raw material of unequal quality.
This ensures consumers get extra benefit. Raw …continued »

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