Steelbird helmet manufacturing company has a whole new class of youth-oriented and designed helmets. Rajeev Kapur, Managing Director, Steelbird Helmets, speaks on the new innovation helmet range and his company's vision.
Steelbird Hi-Tech India is a leading helmet brand for more than decades. The Ares A1 range has features like a visor locking system, anti-theft ring, and temperature control technology. The helmets are guarded with the premium ISI standards.
How do you visualise the market for conventional and smart helmets with connectivity features?
Smart helmets are available all over the world with features like Bluetooth, GPS trackers and rear view mirrors. Even for conventional helmets the demand will increase in many ways. The market demand is 100 million helmets and that is why Steelbird is investing so much in this sector. Every year 20 million motorcycles are produced and two helmets are required for motorcycles. So 40 million is the new demand. If helmets are made compulsory in every state, there will be a huge demand as only 25 per cent population must be wearing helmets. If helmets become mandatory, customers will be replacing them every three years, then the demand will be of 100 million helmets annually.
What is your market share in that 100 million helmets?
Steelbird has a capacity of producing five million helmets per year as on date, but the company is not producing this amount because helmets are not mandatory. Every year we are preparing ourselves for the law that will make helmets compulsory across India. Steelbird can set up one more plant to produce 60,000 helmets per day. Steelbird can set up one more plant to produce 60,000 helmets per day. In Rajasthan, it is already in consideration, because if helmets become mandatory, we can supply them at that point. Nobody will supply as the investment is huge. For producing 100 million helmets, one requires investments of 5,000 crore. It's a huge investment. The new facility is in the planning stage; we hope that we will make it operative within two years.
What is the customer expectation from conventional helmets?
The customers’ expectation is something new, like new graphics, new innovations, new fabric and new technology. Costumers do not want a low-price helmet. There are 207 helmet producers in India, 95 per cent are new. A helmet is available for Rs 105 in the market. Customers buy these fake helmets. It is like a person gets a heart attack, and the medicines provided are fake. It will not cure the person. The same logic applies to helmets, if a person wears a fake helmet and meets with an accident, he will die.
Do you produce new helmets for ladies and children?
Yes, Steelbird does have helmets for ladies and children. Steelbird has also made family helmets, with different shell sizes and colours pink for women and black for men. We supply helmets to Yamaha and Honda. Steelbird has sold many kids’ helmets to ICICI Lombard to support insurance plans.
What does ‘new’ technology mean?
Steelbird Air helmets have‘Air blow’ technology. There are three vents in the front, so the air flow from both the sides and goes back from the rear exhaust. So your helmet will become cooler inside. So it is like when a person sweats the fan gives him cool air and breeze. In this case like the fan it is the cooling effect. We have a brand called Airies, for professional superbikes.The speciality in Airies is the high impact radius for the visor with a mercury finish and soft finished interiors.
Steelbird has diversified products. Give us more details…
We produce 400 articles, but we are only known for Steelbird Helmets. We also supply to the helmet industry all over the world. Even BMW buys components from us for its helmets. We are the biggest producers in the world for helmets. We supply engineering components, visors, metal components. The scratch guards, jackets, gloves, side-boxes and recently we launched something called ‘CoolCore’. ‘Cool Core’ helps in handling the weather, like you would wear T-shirts for warm weather.
What are your plans, going forward?
Steelbird has already started a joint venture called Motoziel Edelweiss Pvt Ltd. The company is launching all the biking products needed in India. We have 18 brands. We also have Steelbird music channel. So a lot of things are happening.
What is your vision 2020?
Steelbird is going to become the number one company in helmets, as the target is to produce not only in quantity, but also with good quantity. Steelbird has major brands like Steelbird Air, Airies and Ignite. Steelbird is investing in technology and R&D and to give new things to customers.
What will be your business philosophy which will take it forward?
Steelbird's motto is that no one should die wearing a Steelbird helmet. We never compromise with quality. We prefer to lose the business; but we will never reduce the quality.
What are these technologies?
Steelbird has all robotic plants and all the R&D is done in Italy. Steelbird is the key supplier to the helmet industry around the world. So the company has all latest technologies like induction molten industry, visors are completely robotic and no manpower is involved. Plants can produce 9,000 helmets a day without any manpower. The company also has automatic balloon handling vacuum table and completion table, technology for fibre helmets, which nobody has in India.
What in your DNA has enabled your success?
Steelbird works with the global helmet industry,so we know very well what all the big brands are doing the type of technology and raw material they are using. Steelbird supplies buckles, interiors and visors to the global helmet industry. We will be adopting all those technologies in India too.
How have high-end customers like Mercedes, BMW and Audi accepted Steelbird products?
Steelbird is the key suppliers of buckles all around the world. I am known as the 'King of Buckles'. So we develop new buckle types and supply to the helmet industry. People don't have other choice as our R&D is very strong. So that is the reason why people buy our buckles. Also, buckles play a very vital role in helmets. If the buckle is weak, it will break or open.
Further, things like service, quality and relationships are needed for a brand to stand out in the crowd. On the Indian market, we see that what the customer requires. The weather in India is too hot, but there are no ventilated helmets. product which has a real ventilation system like Steelbird Air. Then we observed that there are no clip-up helmets. So we developed a helmet with the button. So innovation is the key. There was no mechanisation of visor locks, so we developed that also. Then we saw that opened face helmets cannot be locked in scooters, so we generated that also. We see what is required by the customer and then we develop that.
What is your vision for Steelbird?
The vision is to become the number one in the world for the helmet industry. Steelbird is already moving ahead. Today the company has three plants. The fourth one is being set up in Rajasthan. Steelbird is going to set up a plant which will produce 60,000 helmets a day. Today the number is 21,000. In addition the company is also launching lots of accessories like Motoziel. That is for all the high-end customers in India.
Have you aligned with any OEMs?
Steelbird supplies to Yamaha, Honda and Royal Enfield.
No biker should die in an accident while wearing a Steelbird helmet.
- Rajeev Kapur,
Being a bigwig of the helmet manufacturing industry worldwide, Steelbird has now promised a whole new class of youth-oriented and heavily designed and printed helmets with some contemporary and upto-date features. The helmets are guarded with the premium ISI standards and a total excellence in the areas of: