Kanthal and Malhotra Engineers: a four-decades-long partnership
Based in Pune, India, Malhotra Engineers makes sintering furnaces for powder metallurgy plants, as well as secondary process furnaces, like steam and heat treatment furnaces. Since the 1990s, the company has exclusively used heating wires supplied by Kanthal, but the relationship between Kanthal and its founder, Ravi P. Malhotra stretches back even further.
“My first encounter with Kanthal dates back to 1977 when I worked for a furnace manufacturing company,” recalls Mr. Malhotra. “I was responsible for a shaker hearth furnace project, which had clear design issues. I pointed them out but was told to keep quiet and do my job.
“My prediction that the design wouldn’t work ended up being correct, and so it was perfected and recommissioned with better quality ceramics. Later, the edge wound strip heaters were developed using Nichrome and Kanthal strips,” continues Mr. Malhotra, adding that, while this resulted in him being offered another prestigious project at the company, he soon left to set up his own business. Malhotra Engineers was founded in 1978.
Malhotra Engineers started out by delivering the brickwork for electric sintering furnaces and other heat treatment furnaces. As Mr. Malhotra explains, this gave him a ringside view of how Kanthal’s heating elements worked in a variety of applications, without being directly involved with them. By 1990, he had become a buyer of Kanthal’s heating wires for his furnaces and, since then, the partnership between the two companies has gone from strength to strength.
During the 1990s, Malhotra Engineers started producing heating modules for the Indian market. The heating modules are prefabricated with metallic heating elements and non-electrically conductive, dense ceramic insulation for use at element temperatures up to 1,350°C/2,460°F.
“My continued partnership with Kanthal has one simple reason: Kanthal has provided all the design input and material purchasing support I have needed,” says Mr. Malhotra. “Combined with my refractory and molding selections, I’m able to offer my customers the optimal heating module and Kanthal has been my greatest supporter.”
In 1996, Mr. Malhotra traveled to the U.K. and met with Mr. Tony Cavaney, Kanthal’s Production Manager for Heating Modules, in a meeting arranged by Mr. Lars Ericsson, Managing Director of Kanthal India ltd. The advice he received there ended up changing his business forever.
“I came back with technical tips that eventually enabled me to achieve zero rejections. It was a wonderful meeting that consolidated my heater molding business. I have never looked back,” he continues.
From that day on, Mr. Malhotra would not use any heating wires that were not from Kanthal.
“It was my firm decision only to purchase Kanthal® A-1 grade wires so we never used the wrong wires in our moldings even by mistake,” he explains, adding that, if at some point his company did not have access to Kanthal wires, its activity would simply stop.
Setting a new standard
Over the years, Malhotra Engineers has made everything from furnaces for use at up to 1,250°C with heating elements, to sintering furnaces with specially designed flat heating modules, as well as heat treatment, steam treatment and other furnaces. Together, these products have set the standard in the sintering and aluminum field in India. Due to its state-of-the-art designs, Malhotra Engineers’ heating module business has even been known to compete with products like silicon carbide heating rods in the high-end segment.
“We have achieved good energy efficiency results in our furnaces with heating elements, while the product quality achieved in sintering is also very high, with good finish and dimensional control,” says Mr. Malhotra.
In the late 1990s, Mr. Malhotra took his partnership with Kanthal to the next level, making the decision to translate Kanthal’s manuals for heating element repairs into the local Marathi language. He explains that this was done to educate Malhotra Engineers’ welders and enable them to read the manual and carry out repairs.
Reliability, quality and knowledge
“We believe in less consumption and longer product life,” comments Mr. Malhotra, adding that his business model has always been based on excellent performance combined with minimal maintenance – a vision he shares with Kanthal.
“I have and will continue to advocate for Kanthal because of its reliability, the quality of its material and the wealth of knowledge it has shared with me – which has made an immense contribution to the heat process industry,” says Mr. Malhotra, concluding: “The value Kanthal brings cannot be weighed in price or undercut by cheap alternatives. What we’re building is a value chain of products, in which Kanthal’s wires and elements play an essential part.”