“For India to become the skill capital of the world, we must encourage welding, as it is the primary mover for the manufacturing industry. We want to encourage people to take up welding as a profession. We want them to find welding to be equally glamourous as computer engineering”, says Mr. Vishwanath Kamath, Managing Director, Fronius India.
Welding is an indispensable skill trade for the growth of a country’s economy. Unlike the general perception, welding is not just a physically demanding job but a highly skilled profession and a brilliant career choice. Even though we do not see every weld under the roof or behind the walls, inside a car or on the plane, welding is essential in every aspect of our life.
To learn and understand how Fronius India is attracting the youth towards welding, how is it building an effective welding workforce, along with manufacturing highly advanced welding equipment, we conversed with Mr. Vishwanath Kamath, Managing Director, Fronius India. Read on to know more and you can also watch the video interview on our YouTube channel from the link below.
Q: Fronius Innovation and Skill Centre – this is an interesting combination of innovation and skills, please tell us more about it.
A: The moment someone hears welding, they get an image of something rustic and not something glamorous. But without welding, the whole world would not move. This is the only profession that joins. We have recently opened Fronius Innovation and Skill Centre in Pune. This is our facility expanding over 47,000 sq. ft and we have invested close to 34 crores in this, totally dedicated to welding innovation and skill.
Let me tell you why we renamed it Fronius Innovation and Skill Centre. This is also our headquarter for India and SAARC countries operations. Here, we encourage people to do innovation in welding, we encourage customers to come with their welding challenges so that we can give them innovative solutions. When we talk about innovation, we are not talking about inventing something totally new, but making existing processes run smoothly.
The welding innovations and welding technologies that are already invented in Austria, and other processes that are getting reinvented every day are used to help in finding solutions to our customer problems, and how innovatively we do it is the idea behind this centre. We have six robotic welding booths, we have 11 manual welding stations, two semi-automatic stations, at our centre. The idea behind this centre is that a customer can find innovative solutions to his welding challenges at our centre.
The second part of this is the skill centre. For India to become the skill capital of the world, we must encourage welding, as it is the primary mover for the manufacturing industry. We want to encourage people to take up welding as a profession. We want them to find welding to be equally glamourous to computer engineering.
For everyone visiting our centre, we want to create and give them an atmosphere that they would want to try their hands at welding. This is a world-class skill centre that we have built, to make welding an aspirational career option.
Q: What are some of the ways in which we can change the general perception of welding?
A: The moment we say a welder, the picture that comes to our mind is a person who is not so well-dressed, without any safety equipment, sitting on the roadside, and doing some welding work. This is less to do with welding and more to do with the mindset.
Similar to how we get a charger along with a mobile, we must provide safety and protective gear along with welding equipment. Today, if all the welding manufacturing organizations, decide to provide every welding gear with a safety helmet, and to make the welder dress well with all the safety gadgets, we will change the entire perception towards welding.
Q: How do you foresee welding in today’s scenario in the context of Industry 4.0?
A: We must replace industry 4.0 with personal 4.0. On a personal level, with access to the internet and social media, we want to access information at our fingertips. Why can’t we apply the same principles in welding and manufacturing units? This will help in knowing how many welding wires have been consumed in the plant today, how much electricity was consumed to do this welding, how much gas was used, and what was the time taken to manufacture one unit. All this is possible through the latest manufacturing systems of not only Fronius but other companies too.
We must also adopt some international practices in our training. We are well-connected throughout the world. Though we learned many things from the rest of the world, what we forgot to pick up is good safety and the right training. I represent an Austrian company and I have learned a lot in my 15 years association. To do things right at the first time and every time. Whatever we learn for the first time should be learned in the right way.
Q: Are the students getting sufficient training in welding? As most of them are absorbed into MSMEs rather than large enterprises, how different is the welding in these scenarios?
A: I took a team of Indian customers to Austria in 2017, where I learned that a welding course in Austria is for a duration of three and half years. I was surprised to know that. They train the students from the age of 16 and by the age of 20 that person is an all-around welder.
The training in India is of one year in India. But since welding is a vast subject, one year will not be sufficient. A big paradigm shift needs to happen, where we should have at least three years of training in welding. This will help the welders earn a much better livelihood than what they are earning now.
Coming to your question on MSMEs, there is no difference in welding done in MSME or the big industries. The kind of welding, the kind of electrodes, the standards are all similar to the big industry. What is required here is professionalism and a big shift in the mindset towards welding.
Also read: How Fronius is making welding aspirational through industry-academia connect and other initiatives – https://nationalskillsnetwork.in/how-fronius-is-making-welding-aspirational-through-industry-academia-connect/
Q: Could you help us understand your vision for welding over the next few years and towards women welders in particular?
A: First and foremost, our objective is to get connected. To get connected with industries on one side and with the talent available at colleges. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the first Friday of every month, we were conducting one full day of free training programme in welding for all the people who aspired to learn to weld. We provided them training, training material, food along with certification. The idea was to create awareness about welding to attract people to this profession.
Fronius India celebrated International women’s day by conducting women welding professional challenge. For this, we tied up with C V Raman College of Engineering, Oasis Centre of Excellence in welding. We have been conducting it over the last three years. We are always open to recruiting women welders at Fronius India. We have also been sponsoring women welding engineer competition, for which we have associated with IIW.
We also want to advertise on social media, to show how people from economically weak backgrounds are doing well in this job of welding and earning a good livelihood for themselves. We have also recently appointed one of our colleagues, who would connect students with Fronius India, who will visit engineering colleges and get students to our technology centre. Here we conduct training for two days with a charge of Rs. 1500/-, where we give them a complete overview of welding, make them practice welding on a virtual platform like simulators, to get them attracted. We plan to cover 5000 students this year.