Friday, April 5, 2013

DAPs at Ambala...

The Design Clinic Scheme for MSMEs has now completed three years of its implementation. The Ministry of MSMEs, Government of India launched the scheme on 17th February 2010 with the target of reaching out to 200 MSME industry clusters through organisation of Design Sensitisation Seminars, Design Awareness Programmes, Orientation Programmes and Design Projects. 

While the scheme implementation team achieved the targets of organising 200 Design Sensitisation Seminars, and 18 Orientation Programmes have been organized,  covering 25 states and union territories, to sensitise and expose the MSMEs and different stakeholders of the scheme, the benefits of design as well as the design clinic scheme; over 120 Design Awareness Programmes, DAPs, have helped bring the designers to the doorsteps of over 1400 MSME industries across the country, to discuss, explore, identify different opportunities and develop remedial solutions and strategies for  their future growth.

The benefits of design, as emerged through these programmes and projects as demonstrative examples and case studies, have helped MSMEs and its stakeholders to further explore and try out the components of the design clinic scheme. Thus, while the MSME associations and the individual MSME units are coming forward with their share of required contribution/s to organize DAPs, contributions are also received from the local bank, large scale industry etc. for organising DAPs for their respective MSME units  and/or vendors. Also various state governments have come forward with the required share of contribution to organize DAPs for different MSME clusters in their respective states. 20 DAPs in the state of West-Bengal are being organised with the required 25% contribution from the state government. Similar contribution and supports have been received from the state government of Karnataka, Assam and from the state government Haryana.

Design, especially for the micro and small-scale industries, acts as catalyst to bring in positive approach and the much needed improvements in their products, processes and the system as a whole. Design helps bring people / industry /unit owners to come together and face the challenges of the contemporary markets of today.  Design thus helps bring in new enthusiasm and energy. The Design Awareness Programmes, DAPs organised at Ambala, Haryana ably demonstrates these benefits to the MSMEs.

The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, PHDCCI, the multi-state organisation along with the Ambala Scientific Instruments Manufacturing Association, ASIMA came forward with the proposal to organize 10 Design Awareness Programmes, to cover majority of their industry members to sensitise and benefit from design. This industrious town located 200 Kms. north of Delhi is famously known as the “City of Scientific Instruments”. With over 800 units engaged in the business, Ambala is today the hub for scientific instruments that supplies to majority of schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and medical colleges, research laboratories etc. in the country. These units manufacture over 20,000 different types of instruments using more than 50 types of different raw materials. With the annual turnover of approx. Rs. 800 crore (with 25% from export), these units provide employment to more than 4000 skilled and semi skilled workers. 

The enthusiastic members of ASIMA formed 10 different groups of units, each involved in manufacturing similar types of instruments / equipment; namely Glassware, Heating Equipment, Biological Microscope, Electrical Instruments, Physics Instruments, Optical Instruments, Electronics Equipment, Pharmacy & Pharmacology Equipment, Woodware and Clean Air Equipment manufacturing units. From these, five Design Awareness Programme, DAPs (including Need Assessment Survey, NAS, and Workshop) have already been completed so far and NAS for the remaining groups are in process / being organized.

The DAPs helped bring designers to the doorsteps of these industries to discuss and explore opportunities and strategy for their further development and future growth. For each of the programmes the designer/s visited around 20 units from their group of industries to understand the problems and issues involved both at the micro as well as macro level. The NAS reports thus prepared, as preparation for organizing the workshop/s, besides detailed need and opportunity mapping also included detailed research on the technological and market trends, competitors etc.  (reports at ) Series of five workshops, each of the duration of five days were then organized within the span of one month. These workshops helped bring all the stakeholders – the unit owners, association members, designers, experts from various related fields, Government officials etc. - onto common platform to discuss their various problems / issues faced by the group/s. Coupled with this the series of presentations, expert lectures, brainstorming sessions, hands-on assignment sessions, idea generation and model / prototype development sessions etc. resulted in bringing in the much needed positive mindset, new found enthusiasm and approach.  

New innovations in the form of digital microscope with touch screen control, magnification attachments with the smartphones, web cam computer connectivity etc. presented by the senior designer Mr. Balasubramaniam exposed the participants of the biological microscope cluster, to the future trends of their industry sector, and thereby opened them up to new vision and new directions.  A visit to one of the college, Sanatan Dharma College at Ambala, organized for the participants of the Physics Instruments Cluster, by its designer Mr. Ajit Dandekar as part of the workshop, probably for the first time exposed the participants to the actual usage of their instruments by their customers – the students and the teachers. And the idea generation and prototype development sessions by Mr. Kulveer Singh Bhati the designer involved with the Glassware Industry cluster resulted into the development of a range of new products and applications within the span of five days of their workshop.

Each of these workshops began with sharing of the findings of the need assessment survey, NAS report/s in terms of issues / problems / opportunities identified for the specific cluster at the individual unit level as well as cluster level. These formed the basis of the discussions during the next five days and many of the issues identified - from developing and exploring new applications / markets to developing improved joineries, processes etc. - were taken up further for developing their solutions during the workshop/s itself. Besides these, the participants were exposed to various related areas such as IPR, Lean manufacturing, Integrated Industrial Development, Product Branding, Creative Management and Entrepreneurship etc. Several experienced leading designers and domain experts made presentations of different case studies and shared their experiences and insights as well as also provided guidance and solutions to specific problems. 

The initiative started by Mr. Ashwani Goel and Mr. Vipan Sarin, ASIMA, Ambala with positive and encouraging support and the much needed guidance by the PHDCCI, Delhi and facilitated by Mrs. Bindoo Ranjan, Design Clinic Scheme Zonal Center, Delhi, has now emerged as a major movement in Ambala. Timely encouragements from Shri. Satya Prakash, Director, Dept. of Industries, Government of Haryana and by Shri. Vijay Kumar, Director, MSME DI, Karnal, Haryana have helped further motivate the members to take these initiatives forward. It is indeed heartening to note that the Government of Haryana has approved setting up of the Common Facility Center, CFC at Ambala ( and the approval for organizing 10 DAPs for different MSME clusters in the state of Haryana). The unit owners and the members of the industry association, majority of them earlier looked at each other as their competitors, are now actively participating with each other. The e-group formed by them having its members and experts from various different fields, universities, research organizations and government, has now become a platform for them for continuous discussion and information sharing. The younger generation / the young entrepreneurs of Ambala are now taking active interests as head/ coordinator of different sub-groups formed for various tasks / action plans worked out as workshop/s outcomes.

MSMEs face many challenges simultaneously for their daily struggle for survival. They find themselves entangled in the web of issues and problems, making it difficult to explore new opportunities. One of the unit owner at Ambala, as told me during my visit… “Ambala main koi bhukhe nahi marta; lekin koi tarakki nahi karta” (nobody dies of hunger in Ambala; but nobody grows) is the telling reality that the MSMEs face today.  I hope the initiatives of the Design Clinic Scheme, with encouraging support from its different stakeholders, will help bring in the much needed positive change for the industries and their owners at Ambala, some of which have already been visible now. As Kulveer Singh Bhati, the designer involved with the glassware cluster mentioned in his conclusion.. “I am really amazed to see the strength of the Ambala scientific industry, its not only a heritage industrial town but also an exceptional production hub…   …with some advancement in technology and improvement in product quality the industry can again reach the heights.” … the industries at Ambala have the experience and capability to make this much needed change and progression.