As SIFCO celebrates its 100-year anniversary, Bharat Forge, Ltd., a company some 8,000 miles away, will have entered its 52nd year in operation. What SIFCO has shared with Bharat Forge of Pune, India, traverses not just a third of the Earth in distance, but also shares a history of technology transfer, cooperation and friendship.
Bharat Forge is part of Kalyani Group, a $2.5-billion conglomerate with a 10,000-person global workforce, and has a history interwoven with that of SIFCO’s. In the late 1950s, a U.S. State Department-sponsored productivity mission visited India in response to an Indian government request. An individual from that mission contacted SIFCO upon his return and suggested that SIFCO do for India what it had successfully done elsewhere in the world, namely, technology transfer.
A project management team from SIFCO worked with Neelkanth A. Kalyani of Pune on specifying facilities, products and processes. Other individuals from the U.S. and India assisted in areas of banking approvals and liaisons with local policy decision-makers.
After careful market analysis, a plant layout was designed, equipment was recommended, tools and fixtures were designed, process sheets were formulated, and six SIFCO specialists went to live in Pune for several years to train local personnel in the numerous skills necessary to operate a forge plant.
Early customers of Bharat Forge purchased parts such as crankshafts and connecting rods as well as engine, transmission, power train and steering components for highway trucks. By the early 1980s, technical achievements enabled Bharat Forge to provide special forged end-fittings for the Kalpakkam Atomic Power Project.
Although inexperienced, the initial workforce at Bharat was willing and eager to work, and did so on pace with their contemporaries in forging shops throughout the world. Their powerful work ethic enabled them to quickly learn how to safely operate forging equipment through frequent group training and discussion sessions. This resulted in providing work for approximately 2,500 employees in the early days of Bharat Forge, which improved the standard of living for the workers and the community.
On the management side of the equation was the teamwork of SIFCO executives and employees, and of course Neelkanth A. Kalyani, whose long hours of hard work and perseverance inspired everyone concerned. Later, Mr. Kalyani’s son, B.N. “Baba” Kalyani, became managing director after completing his engineering and business studies in India and the United States. In fact, Baba Kalyani obtained his Master of Science degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), which is the same university from which a young C.H. Smith Jr. received his Bachelor of Science degree in the early 1940s.
None of the early successes of SIFCO’s and Bharat Forge’s efforts could have succeeded without what George Gotschall called the “proper investment climate,” which afforded the Indo-American team licenses, technical agreements, foreign investments, royalty payments and technology transfer expense remittances.
“Put all these together and you have Bharat Forge Co., Ltd.—the premier forging operation in India today,” said Gotschall in early 1983.
Thirty years later, as SIFCO celebrates in centennial, Bharat Forge, under the leadership of Baba Kalyani, has grown to “a technology-driven global leader in metal forming, having transcontinental presence across a dozen manufacturing locations, serving several sectors including automobile, power, oil and gas, rail and marine, aerospace, construction and mining, etc.”
Chairman and managing director Baba Kalyani and SIFCO executives continue to maintain a strong relationship—one based on cooperation and friendship between the two companies that was forged more than a half century earlier by a different generation.
As Gotschall put it in 1983, “We at SIFCO are proud to be a part of a project that has provided a facility to help in the improvement of living standards through quality metalworking technology. It is a fine example of how technology can work to the benefit of both of our countries.”
Summing it up at SIFCO’s centennial, SIFCO director Hudson Smith—whose father, C.H. “Chuck” Smith Jr. worked hand-in-hand with Neelkanth Kalyani—said, “It is unbelievable what Bharat Forge has done. We are so proud to be a part of it.”