“If God has given you some power to use your prowess for the benefit of the society, you should not lose the opportunity,” believes Sanjeev Agarwal, Chief Manufacturing Officer, Lava International. Carrying this vision ahead, Lava is now set to make India a global manufacturing hub after producing its first design in India feature phone. In a chit chat with Voice&Data, Agarwal talks about the roadmap Lava holds for the near future.
Voice&Data: What were the thoughts that nurtured the ‘Design in India’ initiative?
Sanjeev Agarwal: The launch of India’s first ‘Design in India’ initiative and India’s first ‘Designed in India’ mobile phone marked a significant milestone for the country and for Lava. The ‘Design in India’ initiative is our contribution towards achieving the country’s vision of making India a global hub for mobile phone manufacturing.
With this initiative, we wish to build the mobile components and parts eco-system in the country.
Over the last six years, we have built our capability and expertise in mobile design which led to ‘Design in India’. In 2016, we set up our design centre in Noida, India, with a large team of Indian designers and engineers. The design team spent over a year in China getting trained and guided by the company’s China team on industrial, mechanical, hardware and software design.
I am very proud of our Indian engineers who have not just built India’s first ‘Designed in India’ mobile phone but the one which is a true hallmark of excellence.
It is definitely a great opportunity for entrepreneurs of India who are engaged into different fields, like automobile, to join in and seize the momentous opportunity available in the mobile handset sector.
Voice&Data: What is the roadmap for making India a global manufacturing hub?
Sanjeev Agarwal: Building the local component manufacturing industry and its ecosystem is the centre-piece to make India the global manufacturing hub. Keeping this in mind and our commitment to the Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, we established the very first mobile phone design center in India and are planning to invest INR 250 crore in design.
We are also working towards ramping up our existing manufacturing units and are in the process of setting up new manufacturing facilities.
We have planned an investment of over INR 2,600 crore in our manufacturing units to reach a production capacity of 21.6 crore units in the next five years.
Voice&Data: How are you planning to beat competition from Chinese players?
Sanjeev Agarwal: In today’s hyper-competitive mobile handset industry, the biggest advantage that we have as a brand is that being an Indian multi-national company we understand the pulse of the Indian consumers very well. We sell on our brand strengths which are product and service quality, reliability and right consumer experience – be it software or hardware. We make valuable technology available and accessible to our consumers with the novelty in product design within a price band.
We have several advantages over our competition.
Our single-layer distribution model is quite unique in this industry and it is one of our biggest strengths. This is a tangible model compared to the multiple layered distribution model adopted by competitors. We also have a large retail footprint – we currently have 1,65,000 outlets with full control on material, inventory and branding. Also, in the e-commerce space as well, we have several strategic tie-ups.
Our exponential growth is the work of a carefully planned strategy, and that’s why despite immense competition, we have clocked good growth. For us, the biggest value a company is able to create is excellence and this is our focus.
Voice&Data: What type of initiatives are you taking for better quality, security and after sales services?
Sanjeev Agarwal: Reliability and quality of our products are at the core of our brand ethos. At our China Research and Development facility with our 700-strong team of engineers, we conduct quality tests of all kinds for the product hardware and software.
While the hardware testing is undertaken for PCBA, LCD, Touch Panel, Audio, Camera and Network, the testing of software performance and stability is driven by both automated and manual processes.
We also have a dedicated team of engineers focusing on camera performance improvement.
On after sales service front, we have over 1,000 service centers in India which is the highest in the country with even a service center in Andaman & Nicobar Island and the Leh region.
We ensure that 90% of service cases get resolved on the same day at the service center and for cases where expensive parts are involved, the resolution cycle is 6-8 days. We do spare planning on a weekly basis for approximately 13500+ SKUs and also procure the spares, well in advance to equip the service centers with ample of spares to ensure quick repairs.
Voice&Data: Where do you see Lava five years down the line?
Sanjeev Agarwal: We wish to dominate the sub-12k segment by acquiring over 40 per cent of the market share in almost all the markets where we operate in.
We are also working towards designing and manufacturing the entire range of Lava mobiles in India by 2021.