Exclusive interview of Sophie Moochhala on the occasion of International Women’s Day

Exclusive interview“Success” is a multi-faceted word! Professionally, for me, success is to build a brand that is trusted by customers and delights customers. of Sophie Moochhala on the occasion of International Women's Day

Sophie Moochhala, MD, Fluid Controls
Sophie Moochhala, MD, Fluid Controls

To celebrate International Women’s Day, our Managing Editor Mr. Narendra Shah had a conversation with Ms Sophie Moochhala – Managing Director – Fluid Controls Private Limited. In which she speaks about the Company business strategy, Atmanirbhar Bharat Policy and Growth in a Post-COVID Situation.

Tell our readers about various innovative products recently developed for Metro & Railway Industries?
Fluid Controls Private Limited was established in 1974 by Dr. Y.E. Moochhala, a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, the USA with a vision to deliver high quality & high-performance products which delight customers. Fluid Controls offers customers comprehensive end-to-end “Make in India” solutions for Rail & Metro brake piping arrangements – from design & engineering services to supply of high-performance products and installation services. From its inception in 1974, Fluid Controls has engaged in original R&D and also has had an ethos of developing indigenous replacements for imported products. Our founder, Dr. Y E Moochhala, after a successful career in the USA decided to return to India because he was a strong believer in a self-reliant India. His idea was to develop high quality, high-performance products to suit local prototype climatic and performance expectations. Today, Fluid Controls is approved as an “In-House R&D unit” by the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR), Government of India. Since 2011, we have developed more than 25 new products, which is very much in line with the Fluid Controls vision statement. Adding to our strength in innovating, Fluid Controls has filed its first Global Patent and
is in the process of filing two more patents. Particularly for the Rail & Metro Industry Fluid Controls has developed Across Frame Connectors for connection of pipelines between the shell and bogie for high-speed electric locomotives. These connectors eliminate welding processes and allow for seamless connection of pipes between the shell and bogie. Across Frame connectors also, reduce component parts required to be purchased as they are integrated fitting assemblies. Fluid Controls has also developed an entire range of FlexiGripTM connectors to provide zero-leakage and vibration resistant connections Here are the excerpts from the
interview:- “Success is a multi-faceted word! Professionally, for me, success is to build a brand which is trusted by customers
and which delights customers.” Sophie Moochhala Managing Director Fluid Controls Pvt. Ltd. between misaligned pipes or between pipes of different materials. The triple sealing action of the split ring, washer and O ring provides for a completely leak-proof connection. The split ring also provides superior vibration resistance by ensuring the joint remains in a springing condition. As an ongoing part of product development, Fluid Controls also customizes standard products to suit specific customer requirements.

How do you see the Govt of India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat policy?
Fluid Controls is a “Vocal for Local” MSME organization and we whole-heartedly support the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative. Domestic manufacturers have the capability – be it in manufacturing, quality, or R&D – to cater to domestic requirements across sectors. In the past, legacy international vendors and lack of firm procurement policies constrained the effective implementation of “Make in India”. Atmanirbhar Bharat, which clearly outlines procurement policies, will go a long way to boost domestic manufacturers, especially in the MSME sector. With our manufacturing and R&D capabilities, Fluid Controls can contribute immensely to provide high quality, high-performance products to all sectors in the move to localize supplies.

Please share some of your value-added, problem-solving product and services offered by Fluid Controls?
A good example of a product we developed is the Fluid Controls Hydraulic Swaging Unit (HSU), which is a tool to ensure that twin ferrule connectors are installed correctly at the site. The unique feature of our HSU is that there is no need for manual intervention in the process. We also offer design and engineering services and have completed conversion projects (from one connector system to another) for several customers.

How Covid-19 outburst the Fluid Control’ business and the step you have taken to overcome it?
During the onset of the Pandemic COVID-19, our primary focus was to ensure the health and safety of our employees, their families, our customers and our business partners. And we had changed the way we approach every task and every activity. We had to adapt our model of operation since face-to-face meetings and interaction were not possible for some months (and we are still work-from-home at our Mumbai office!). We have invested in ERP and Microsoft Teams software to ensure the ease of teamwork and connectivity. To ensure seamless day-to-day operation, each department head would hold a daily telephonic meeting to discuss tasks and the way ahead. We also had to change the way we conducted our external business. During the lockdown period, Fluid Controls engaged with customers via video conferencing and calls. And, to ensure the least disruption in schedules, we have provided regular updates on our business status and order status to them. As many of our customers still do not allow business visits, we continue to have a virtual engagement with them. Once our plant became operational in May 2020, we provided our employees with a safe working environment. Whilst a major part of our staff is still working from home, “Operational Safety” being the primary parameter for the health and safety of people at work in the plant, we have planned our manufacturing with a system and process-focused approach. At Fluid Controls, we “Engineer Connections every day”. And in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we learnt how to “Adapt Everyday”!

What is your view on Business Growth in a Post COVID Situation?
I am very optimistic about the post-COVID growth situation and increased Union Budget allocations this year for railways will definitely lead to more business for companies such as ours. In addition, we are very positive that the focus on freight, Metros and RRTS/LRTS networks will result in an increasing demand
for rolling stock.

What are the Metro Projects in which Fluid Controls currently associated?
We are currently associated with projects for Mumbai Metro, Pune Metro, Delhi Metro and Chennai Metro. BEML suppled the First Driverless Metro Train developed in India form Mumbai Metro Line 2A.

What is the role of fluid Controls in the development of this true Atma Nirbhar product?
We are very happy to have been associated with BEML for Mumbai Metro. The Metro cars supplied by BEML have Fluid Controls DIN Single Ferrule connectors installed in the brake piping system. This is a very big achievement for Fluid Controls and we are very proud to have been approved by BEML for this project. Coming from a non-technical background,

how do you manage the most senior management position of an innovative product engineering company?
“Success” is a multi-faceted word! Professionally, for me, success is to build a brand that is trusted by customers and delights customers. At an organizational level, it is to build a team that is motivated, innovative and performs to high expectations. In this context, my having or not having an engineering background doesn’t really matter as I am supported by a team that has stellar engineering credentials.

What are the company’s business strategy and future expansion plan concerning the Metro & Railway market?
Over the years, Fluid Controls has developed comprehensive expertise for manufacturing, by identifying the right materials and ensuring “fit and forget” assembly. For Rail & Metro applications, we offer complete fitment of brake piping components, engineering and site installation services, pre-piped assemblies for easy site fitment, double ferrule fittings, DIN single ferrule fittings, threaded adaptors, Across Frame connectors, FlexiGripTM connectors, quick release connectors, isolation valves and clamps. A key part of our future plans is to tap into the brake piping business for the emerging high-speed train operations and to offer integrated solutions and hose assemblies to our current customer base. We are also focusing on global supplies to Europe, North America and SE Asia

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