In 1998, Tata Motors’ tryst with destiny in the passenger car business began with the launch of Indica. Despite all the attention, Indica failed to sizzle, with sales falling 20% the next year as customers complained that the car was rolled out despite glitches.
Tata Motors carried out a survey to identify the problems, and discovered that the components being procured from Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers were of sub-standard quality. Amit Bhingurde, chief operations officer, TAL Manufacturing Solutions, a Tata Motors subsidiary, explains the reason: “The manufacturers were not able to produce high-quality components as they couldn’t afford automation.”
To address the issue, TAL, a leading player in the machine tools and equipment-building industry, mulled over the idea of making a low-cost robot to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) move up the value chain, but nothing materialised. It all changed in 2014 when Bhingurde, who had worked with Tata Motors between 1992 and 2008 and had witnessed the fall of Indica, joined TAL as its chief operating officer.
He started working on the idea of manufacturing Brabo, the first Made-in-India robot. “We decided to build a robot which could be affordable to MSMEs and cater to their requirements,” adds Bhingurde.
A team of six engineers began conceptualising the basic design. The first prototype, with 2 kg payload, was made in May 2014 and presented to the board, which gave its nod to the concept. Brabo was later showcased at several prominent events such as ‘Make in India’ and IMTEX in 2015 and 2017 respectively. “We received a lot of attention from MSME customers. So, we decided to build a line of robots,” reveals Bhingurde, who officially unveiled the robot in April 2017.
Multi-purpose and user-friendly
Manufactured at TAL factory in Pune, the robot, which can handle a payload of 2-10 kg, is priced Rs.500,000-700,000, and can be bought on monthly instalments. Bhingurde claims that it can increase productivity by 15-30% and has a payback period of two to three years.