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Panasonic Life Solutions is one of India’s largest domestic manufacturers of electrical construction materials, manufacturing a range of innovative electrical, lighting and ventilation products. It aims to improve the service it provides to end users while keeping disruption to a minimum.
It was formerly known as Anchor Electricals, a family-owned company in India that offered wires, cables, switch gears, lights and other electrical products. It was acquired by Panasonic in 2007 for around US$400 million. “Anchor was perhaps the first large acquisition by a Japanese company like Panasonic,” Joint Managing Director Dinesh Aggarwal shares with The CEO Magazine.
“I attribute the success of Panasonic Life Solutions and Anchor to the people and its workers. I mean, there’s a significant contribution that the workers have made over the years and then, of course, all the staff. I think we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.”
The government’s push to make the country more digitally empowered has also driven the company to become a leader in its manufacturing field. It became a digital frontrunner within the manufacturing industry in India by providing highly available services to end users, ensuring continuous production in factories and freeing up IT teams to focus on innovation and strategic initiatives.
Dinesh reveals that this was achieved through consolidating and migrating 45 applications across 44 sites to a scalable private cloud environment to meet business growth objectives. This allowed for a stable hybrid IT support model covering the network and data centre which optimises operations and provides 24/7 support.
Operational efficiency across the data centre, network, security and cloud means that critical IT resources are freed up to drive innovation. According to Dinesh, this efficiency provides Panasonic Life Solutions with the ability to execute its digital strategy and become more competitive.
Dinesh joined the company in 2008 and his initial years went into “establishing and formalising processes and, of course, strengthening support from our Japanese counterparts on the manufacturing side”. He felt that there was “an inherent potential which had to be unleashed in the company”.
“I attribute the success of Panasonic Life Solutions and Anchor to the people and its workers. I mean, there’s a significant contribution that the workers have made over the years, and then, of course, all the staff.”
The company’s profit continued to grow, with a compound annual growth rate of about 10–11 per cent. “Panasonic was committed to creating a stronger market presence in India. Prior to the Anchor acquisition, the electrical company was mostly present in South-East Asia and to some extent in Middle East,” he explains.
As a result of Dinesh coming on board as the Joint Managing Director, it strengthened its financial controls and automated many of its processes. “We interlinked the manufacturing, capacity planning, the material department planning and the logistics,” he says. “We established the internal audit team because that was very necessary to get the company’s compliances in place and the controls in place.”
In regards to differentiating itself from its competitors, Dinesh believes Panasonic Life Solutions has a wider range of products and a wider depth of distribution which is an overall strength for the organisation. “At the same time, I still think we have a long way to go in terms of reaching the smaller towns and rural areas,” he admits. “As a company, we are committed to catering to every economic strata, to every Indian.”
Its strong relationships with suppliers also gives the company a competitive advantage. “If you ask for the excellence that we have achieved in terms of getting materials, we’ve been able to purchase them at the most competitive rates because our suppliers have set up up their own warehouses. This has helped us in cutting down our material inventory, and hence also reduced the fluctuation of price and tax.”
“Innovation technology is without any doubt what is going to play a major part in this company’s future.”
In regards to the future growth of the organisation, Dinesh believes that it needs to stay on par with the latest technological developments. “Innovation technology is without any doubt what is going to play a major part in this company’s future,” he explains. “If we’re not up to speed with that, we will fall behind because while other companies perhaps take the lead. So we have to be at the front end of that.”
Dinesh and his team also did an analysis of the company, looking at the areas in which it was strong in terms of selling, and where there were potential opportunities to grow. Traditionally strong in residential areas, it set its sights on commercial spaces such as hospitals and office spaces, although it was with government where it saw the greatest opportunities.
“We realised that government spending on infrastructure is going to continue for the next two, three decades in a substantial way,” he explains. “So whether it is roads, highways, stadiums, airports, metro stations and so on, there is going to be a huge opportunity for electrical products, and also future products, that we can take advantage of.”
What’s promising for Panasonic Life Solutions moving forward, according to Dinesh, is the prominent foundation it has created as a result of becoming a leading manufacturer with increasing efficiencies of scale. “We are very much a part of India’s future infrastructure, both public and private.”