Increased investment and automation | Market report India

How the Indian furniture industry is developing

Published in the German trade magazine HK-Magazin 2022/03.

In the following article, Marc Pfetzing, working for SCHULER Consulting for more than 10 years, gives interesting insights into the market situation of the Indian furniture industry and its current challenges.

A lot has happened at Schuler India in the past year. Despite a terrible pandemic, we were able to carry out several successful projects and had the opportunity to expand the team with another colleague. Based in the multi-million city of Delhi, there are now three consultants at our long-standing location who can cover most of our customers' needs across India. Our specialisation ranges from digital solutions to hands-on support for problems on the shop floor directly at factories. With more than 40 projects completed, we are ready for the next 40!  

A positive development in our industry is the willingness of our Indian customers to invest in more machinery. They are also increasingly accepting certain levels of automation. This change has been partly driven by the labour shortage caused by the Corona pandemic. The difficulty in recruiting skilled labour in the furniture industry in general has given this a further boost. The wider acceptance of these higher technologies has created a vacuum in new skill areas where furniture design, production planning and CAD cam skills are in demand. This is a new challenge for many manufacturers, for which our Schuler team is increasingly being asked to provide solutions. In these cases we support our customers by showing new digital ways to a more autonomous production. With the right mindset and the right digital tools, this is not as difficult as is often expected.  

In addition to strategic questions about the growth targets of manufacturers and questions about the use of new software, we also provide our customers with practical support in implementing their digital strategy, i.e. integrating digital tools into the existing IT system landscape. Although we clearly perceive the trend towards more digitalisation in our projects, production planning and optimisation continues to be an important part of our core business.

It is worth noting that the furniture industry in India is growing by leaps and bounds and factories are not able to increase their production capacities fast enough. This trend is even more evident in the furniture export sector, where many orders are coming in that were previously manufactured in China and other South East Asian countries. International furniture buyers have realised the importance of spreading their orders across several countries to ensure a healthy mix of suppliers and reduce risk in geopolitical situations.  

Also, the global trend towards more customised solutions in furniture is made for the strength of Indian manufacturers, where many manufacturers already offer customised solutions to their customers. This product flexibility is incredibly difficult to control in production, one of the reasons why most countries have avoided this type of manufacturing so far - but not in India. Indian manufacturers have always welcomed these challenges and this has set them apart from the rest of the world's furniture manufacturers, and now also supported by more affordable CNC solutions.  

This transition from analogue to digital production will definitely be one of the focal points of our presence at Indiawood 2022 (02-06.06.2022). Here we will also present our powerful method of digital value stream optimisation. This is a simple solution to collect production data in any manufacturing environment using an indoor tracking system - and without an IT project. This creates more transparency in manufacturing and gives us the opportunity to advance the performance improvement of production on the basis of real-time data and to optimise the value stream in the long term. 

As India's leading trade fair for the local wood and furniture industry, Indiawood is a key event in our schedule. We will be there as part of the "German Pavilion" alongside other German exhibitors, including our partner, imos AG, for whom we have been the official sales partner in Spain for over 20 years. The "German Pavilion" is an initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Policy, which provides financial and organisational support for the presentation of German business enterprises abroad. My team and I are really looking forward to the event, which after a long pandemic can finally take place again in Präsenz. See you there! 

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