Founded in 1995, Sona Foods, renamed Sona Machinery is a leading manufacturer, exporter, and supplier of milling equipment for rice processing, cleaning pulse-dal, wheat, sesame, millet, gram, lentils, maize, and corn. With 25 years in the industry, the company offers end-to-end milling solutions with low maintenance and high accuracy products accompanied by after-sales support.
Ghaziabad- headquartered, Sona Machinery undertakes the entire turnkey plant setup and is a complete solution provider for installing a 4 to 16 ton per hour rice mill plant. Narendra Kumar started the company in 1995 with rice milling equipment only. Over the years, the company has broadened the range of machines in the agri-processing industry and now manufactures soya and maize mills and plants to process pulses.
According to Vasu Naren, director and chief executive officer of Sona Machinery, there is no other product that is as good as Sona in the small and mid-market rice miller segment. "Today, Sona dominates a segment that once relied solely on less organized and hyper-local suppliers with no guarantee of after-sales support. The company takes care of the complete machinery range backed up with a robust design."
Manufacturing plant & USP
Sona Machinery has its manufacturing unit located at Signature City, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. The company is backed by a strong infrastructural base, which is well equipped with the latest technology, advanced machines, and equipment that assist in maintaining the quality and quantity of the rice. Naren explains, "At Sona Machinery, high-quality special materials are supported by modern computer numerical controlled (CNC) machine tools. We have a strong focus on the manufacturing process and have a full-fledged quality testing laboratory and well-qualified and experienced personnel."
He further adds, "At Sona, we create custom-made plants and processes to fit your resources and market trends. We can also support you throughout the entire lifecycle of your mill."
Sona Machinery offers rice mills machinery with a capacity range from 3 tons per hour to 8 tons per hour. Also, it provides the equipment for handling bulk material with a capacity range of up to 100 tons per hour.
Affordability and automation
The market is highly driven by the healthy economic indicators in India, such as the increased disposable income of the average household in the country. This has led to increased demand for clean and packaged rice, wheat, and other grains. The processing companies cater to the demand for such machineries, and thus the market has expanded over the years. Naren says, "At Sona, we are always quality cautious and serves the millers looking for quality milling solutions at affordable prices."
He states that the future belongs to the manufacturers who recognize uncertainties and initiate their operation efforts and look for the ideas that will make them more competitive than competition. Sona's efforts in maintaining quality, efficiency in operation, production-centric research and development, and reduced power and manufacturing cost can reduce the processing cost while maintaining quality. He adds, "Automated units and subunits typically perform the manufacturing process with less variability than human workers. This results in greater control and consistency of product quality. By streamlining equipment and processes, reducing scrap, and using less space, automation uses less energy."
Speaking of the Covid-19, Naren believes that it will remain around and create a high degree of uncertainty in all aspects of the business. "Manpower will be a constraint, with MSMEs indicating that 30 to 70% of their pre-Covid-19 workforce have migrated back to their hometowns due to uncertainties and loss of income during the lockdown. It will be a challenge to convince staff to return or hire new staff. The staff turnover is expected to negatively impact productivity and quality, adding further to financial concerns."
However, according to him, Sona has started to think through potential solutions to the many and diverse restart challenges. Planning still appears to be in its early stages. He adds, "We have started to consider workforce-related solutions, through ongoing communications with workers, setting up buddy systems, engagement with industrial training institutes, and hiring of temporary workers on a walk-in basis."
A shift toward the digital era
The pandemic forces businesses to look into creative digital solutions to continue to function remotely and serve their client base. Naren admits that developing know-how, like and trust relationships with clients in the digital age are more likely to happen online. He adds, "A user-friendly and technically sound website helps attract more potential clients. It has made a significant difference for my clients in the rice mill. Sona solutions are listed on various business platforms for the customers. We keep our customers updated with the latest developments via various social media platforms."
Expanding product portfolio
Sona has increasingly begun to realize the merits of investing in innovation. Naren explains, "It is no longer seen as an avoidable cost. Research demonstrates that being a sustainability leader can significantly raise your chances of being a top innovator."
Sona has opened its sales and marketing office in Hyderabad in the Southern part of India. The company is investing immensely in sales and planning to increase the product portfolio by adding products in the optical sorting and packaging domain.