Navigating Manpower Challenges in Manufacturing: How Gopika is Championing Gender Equality at Sharp Chucks!

Hiya Chakrabarti (left) with Gopika and Ajay Sikka of Sharp Chucks and Machines at EMO Hannover 2023

Celebrating a milestone of 25 years, Jalandhar-based Sharp Chucks and Machines stands for more than just its impressive range of products or its mastery of technology. This quarter-century marks building an enduring legacy characterised by unwavering excellence, meticulous precision, and an unyielding commitment to quality. At the EMO Hannover 2023, the company not only showcased its diverse “Make in India” products but also provided a platform for Gopika Sikka, the Director of Sharp Chucks, to share her valuable insights on some of the most pressing issues of our time, including the evolving role of women in manufacturing, #Womanufacturing.

Sharp Chucks and Machines Private Limited, established on June 10, 1994, has become a symbol of manufacturing excellence in India over its 25-year journey. Renowned for producing and exporting an array of high-quality power chucks, lathe chucks, drill chucks, and machine tool accessories, the company stands out for its commitment to global quality standards. Adhering to DIN, GOST, and English Standards, Sharp Chucks has earned a distinguished reputation in India and internationally, showcasing its dedication to perfection and innovation in the manufacturing industry.

Breaking Barriers: Gopika Sikka’s Journey in Manufacturing

In the bustling corridors of EMO Hannover 2023, amidst the hum of cutting-edge machinery and the buzz of innovation, a remarkable conversation unfolds. Hiya Chakrabarti, Associate Editor of Machine Maker, meets with Gopika Sikka, Director of Sharp Chucks and Machines Private Limited. Here, amidst displays of India’s finest Make in India products, these two women leaders delve into a candid discussion about Women in Manufacturing, addressing the challenges and transformations within the industry.

Gopika Sikka’s story is one of resilience and pioneering spirit. Coming from Punjab, a state known for its robust industrial landscape, she entered an arena predominantly occupied by men. Post-marriage, about thirty years ago, the concept of a woman entrepreneur, especially in Punjab, was not just rare; it was almost unheard of. Yet, Gopika’s journey was not one of conformity but of breaking stereotypes and paving new paths.

Reflecting on the early days, Gopika recalls the challenges of integrating into the Sikka family’s manufacturing business. The journey was fraught with hurdles, not just in adapting to a new domain but also in confronting the traditional mindset prevalent in Punjab’s industrial sector. However, with unwavering support from her husband, Gopika didn’t just join the workforce; she became a pivotal part of it. Her presence in the manufacturing industry was a statement, to the evolving role of women in sectors once deemed off-limits.

Gopika’s impact at Sharp Chucks and Machines extended beyond her own achievements. She became a beacon of hope and inspiration for other women within the organization. Many of these women, facing their own set of personal challenges, found in Gopika not just a leader but a mentor, someone who understood their struggles and championed their causes. She became a familial figure, offering encouragement and confidence, crucial in maintaining their dedication to the company. Gopika emphasizes the shifting dynamics in Punjab’s manufacturing sector, highlighting a broader understanding and acceptance across India’s general population. The inclusion of more women in the workforce is not just a token gesture but a significant step towards diversification and empowerment in an industry that has long been male-dominated.

Navigating Manpower Challenges in Manufacturing

At the helm of administration and HR in Sharp Chucks and Machines, Gopika Sikka faces a multifaceted set of challenges. Central to her concerns are the practical hurdles of electricity problems and power shortages, which significantly impact production and efficiency. The manufacturing industry, heavily reliant on consistent power supply, finds these interruptions not just inconvenient but also detrimental to workflow and output.

Another critical issue Gopika highlights is the scarcity of skilled labor. The manufacturing sector requires a workforce that is not only technically proficient but also adaptable to the rapidly evolving technological landscape. However, this need is often unmet, leading to a gap in the industry’s productivity and innovation potential. Gopika posits that brain drain, the emigration of talented individuals seeking opportunities abroad, might be a significant factor contributing to this dearth of skilled labor.

Despite these challenges, Gopika remains optimistic about the future. She believes in the power of initiatives like Make in India to revitalize the manufacturing sector. Make in India, aimed at encouraging national and multinational companies to manufacture their products in India, could play a pivotal role in addressing these manpower issues. By fostering an environment that nurtures skill development and incentivizes talent retention, the initiative promises to bridge the gaps in skilled labor and mitigate the challenges posed by infrastructure constraints.

Sharp Chucks’ Inspiring Make in India Show at EMO Hannover 2023

In the bustling, vibrant halls of EMO Hannover 2023, Gopika and Ajay Sikka stands tall as a beacon of Indian manufacturing prowess. Their stall, adorned with the finest lathe & power chucks and machine tool accessories, becomes a hub of attraction, drawing visitors from Poland, Iran, Czechoslovakia, and various European locales. As a staunch supporter of the ‘Make-in-India’ initiative, Gopika’s elation is palpable with every visitor’s nod of approval and words of admiration. Her journey mirrors the transformative trajectory of women in India’s manufacturing industry, marking a shift in attitudes and perceptions.

What sets Sharp Chucks apart is their focus on the essence of manufacturing excellence – the quality of manpower. For Gopika, the discourse isn’t merely about gender representation but about elevating the industry’s standard through skilled and educated workforce. Gopika’s experience underscores the importance of upskilling, advocating for a workforce that is well-trained and adept in the latest technological advancements. She envisions a future where skill development and motivation are the cornerstones, transforming potential disparities into a unified front of skilled professionals. Her showcase at EMO Hannover 2023 is not just a display of India’s manufacturing capabilities but a symbol of progressive change, championing inclusivity and excellence in the industry.


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