Binoy Sahee spoke to Ravindra Mahajan, Director Neologic Engineers Private Ltd. During the interaction Mr. Mahajan talked about the importance of automation for future of dairy industry. He also highlighted the company’s other areas of business such as RTE, fruits and vegetables processing amongst others. He goes by the motto ‘Impossible’ means ‘it is possible’
1. Could you please tell us about Neologic Engineers Private Ltd?
Neologic Engineers Pvt Ltd was founded by Rajendra Gore and I in 2007. We both have 3 Decades of experience in dairy and food engineering projects. Two years prior to starting the business in 2005 we worked on international projects which were completed successfully; that gave us the confidence that we have the knowledge in the latest automation for food and dairy industry and know how to run a business. Our main goal was to reach smaller players in towns and villages to provide affordable automation and hygienic processes to manufacture food products.
We have grown from a 150 sq ft. office space to a five-story own office with the capacity to house 200 people. Currently, we have 100 employees in office and over 150 at Factory catering to not only India but 20 other countries in Middle East, USA and Africa.
2. Which industries do you serve?
The bulk of the revenue comes fromdairy and beverage industry. We have Fruit and Vegetable processing machines to make concentrates, pulp and ketchup which is done in association with FENCO, an Italian company
RTE is another sector in which we work. Off late, we have worked with MARS Foods USA to establish their RTE processing line.
In ice cream, we have completed a project with HUL. A project with Baskin Robbins is under way.
In Pharma, we provide cleaning and hygiene automation. In the cosmetic industry, we have undertaken challenging projects with limited shut down for complete shampoo and hair colour products.
In addition, we have shifted heavy equipment in record time with minimal downtime in production.
We are known for taking up challenging jobs in the industry. As you know in the dairy industry, production has to go on for 365 days and even while upgrading, the plant cannot stop. This is possible with detailed planning and precision in operation.
3. When did you add food, RTE, Pharma and Cosmetics?
RTE was started in 2012 in a small way working on small equipment. Slowly, we have graduated to providing advance recipe-basedequipment. In the process, we got introduced to MARS Foods USA.
We are working on various projects e.g., ID Fresh is using our equipment for cooling of dosa batter. As engineers, we like taking challenges. Rather than pushing the standard of the shelf equipment, we like to work on innovative projects as per client’s requirements.
5. Covid did not affect the food industries as much as it did others but how was the demand for equipment? Were brands investing in new machines etc.
If I have to answer you in one sentence then yes, there was demands. During Covid, many sections of food industry grew but some also suffered such as dairy. Urban population migrated to their home towns coupled with logistic challenges at least in the initial phase of Covid, so there was a lack of demand for milk and its byproducts.
Brands were cautious about investing in ambitious projects like fully automated cheese plants, aseptic processing lines to name a few but they were buying regular new equipment as everyone knew it was a temporary phase.
5. You specialize in automation. How much difference does it make between an automated and non-automated plants in terms of efficiency and product quality?
At Neologic, automation is the core of our work, and it is at par with international standards. The automation we use can facilitates the traceability of products. In case, there are complaints from the market, it can be traced back to the batch number, to the phase at which ingredients were added.
Other important aspects of automation are quality of products, control on product losses, minimal downtime and improved hygiene. It helps in production of uniform products batch after batch. There will be no variation in taste, texture and quality. Further it eliminates the error an operator could commit. It reduces downtime and product losses. The machines clean itself.
Therefore, automation equals no headache.
Our case study shows that customer needs to invest to convert a semi-automated to automated over three to four years so the cost gets divided that long.
6. How has been the business in the last two years 2021?
In 2021 we executed export projects under extremely challenging situations. Staff were busy and working but observing Covid norms so that we keep ourself fit and healthy. In the later part, we faced travel restriction which hampered commissioning and customer service. However due to automation, we were able to provide long distance counselling and servicing.
In the last 6 to 8 months, we have seen substantial rise in stainless steel cost. In This has affected our costing and the investment by customers. War in Ukraine has affected the availability and price of chromium and nickel. We are hopeful that the situation will improve in coming days.
7. Traditionally, B2B businesses were depended on events to generate leads. Has the company worked on digital capabilities to drive business? If yes how has been the results so far?
Our first priority was to offer uninterrupted customer service to our existing customers. I am happy to say that our engineers were available 24X7 to help resolve customers queries.
We saw marked changes in customers mindset as well. They were ready to discuss their requirements over Zoom and Skype. We finalized orders over zoom call. We were using all our social media channels to reach out to customers.
We started webinars as we believe that teaching is the best form of learning. We conducted webinars on automation, energy efficiency, hygiene amongst others. We are pleased to see good number of attendees at our webinars. Now, this has become a part of our routine customer centric activity.
8. You have been in the dairy industry for a long time. Can you share your thoughts on dairy market today and how is it going to grow in future?
Your questions made me nostalgic. As a young boy, I used to sell milk to support our family income. Every day, I would sell 150 to 200 liters. This is how my association with dairy started even before I joined my first job.
One of the many differences that I see from my early professional days till now is that there is an increase in capacity building. Earlier people were investing in similar kind of products such milk powder, casein etc. Now businesses have started taking conscious decision towards their business and venturing into new innovative products such as cheese, yoghurt, fortified milk etc.
Eating pattern has changed. In South India, paneer was unknown 20 years ago. Today, all my customers want paneer plant even if it is small. Paneer has become a part of menu in parties and all marriages in South India.
There is shift from unorganized to organizedsector dairy business a bit, slowly but steadily. Dairy has bright future so do we.
9. You’re going to IIT for MTech in Dairy Technology was not an accident?
I was focused in getting into IIT thus started working towards it from 3rd year in Engineering onwards. In masters, I worked as intern with National Dairy Development Board to get hands on training.
I believe in passionate people because it is only the passion that will see you through your rough times.