The Canara Workshops Limited was in-corporated on 27th of January 1943, and celebrated its Golden Jubilee in the year 1993. The Company has completed 68 years of spring manufacturing and is one of the leading spring manufacturers in the country. It was in 1914, when the Canara Public Conveyance Limited a small transport company founded in South Kanara District started its first operation between Mangalore and Bantwal a neighboring city. It started expanding by acquiring more routes by additional buses to meet the growing demand for its fleet. The major concern for the company was the condition of the roads and frequent break down of buses due to the failure of springs as it was one of the main part which frequently found broken due to the bad condition of the roads.
At the out break of the II world war, there was a sharp decline in the import of spare parts and accessories for the automobile industry. At this time, Mr. V. S. Kudva the, then Managing Director of Canara Public Conveyance Limited took up this decision of forming a separate company and named it as The Canara Workshops Limited in the year 1943 so that, it can devote un-divided attention to the repairs and maintenance of the vehicles.
This company’s specialty was to re-condition the automobile leaf spring that it could repair and maintain not only the fleet of Canara Public Conveyance but also the other transport operators in the District. The customers were so much satisfied with the quality that they called this factory as Spring Factory.
In 1949 influenced by the reports submitted by the committee appointed by the Government of India, The Canara Workshops Ltd., decided to set up an automobile spring manufacturing unit in India. Mr. V. S. Kudva undertook a study tour to U.S.A., and U.K. and decided to import various machineries like conveyor hardening furnace, conveyor tempering furnace and other spring leaf processing machines. For the first time in India, a shot peening technology was also introduced with an installation of a shot peening machine imported from Wheelabrator, U.S.A.
Since the right quality of alloy steel was not available in India, necessary raw materials were imported and was subjected to stringent quality tests. For this purpose a fully equipped metallurgical laboratory to conduct chemical and microscopic examinations was introduced. Even the springs manufactured was subjected to strict quality control inspection by well trained personnel with the use of various quality control instruments and gadgets. Initially the springs manufactured by The Canara Workshops was supplied under the brand name “SUPERIOR’ and later as CANARA SPRINGS. A fatigue testing machine was installed to ensure the endurance capacity of the springs manufactured. Owing to the quality of the springs manufactured, the demand started increasing which necessitated the extension of the springs plant which was taken up in the year 1955 and completed in the same year. The production which was 100 MT per month was slowly and steadily increased to 200 MT per month. During the same period, the company started manufacturing ‘U’ bolts which were part of the spring assemblies fitted to the vehicle. The production of these ‘U’ bolts was started and put into production during the financial year 1956 – 1957.
With the consistent increase in demand for Canara Springs, the requirement of steel had increased considerably, resulting in huge outflows of scarce foreign exchange. The company therefore opted for backward integration to manufacture the alloy steel in Mangalore. Meanwhile Sri Srinivas V. Kudva, the Founder’s son, had returned back from the United States armed with a Masters Degree in Metallurgical Engineering and had joined the company as its Managing Director. He proposed the concept of a mini steel plant with a continuous casting machine and a rolling mill. It may be noted that at this time the world production of steel through the continuous casting method was only 5% while the rest of the world was using the conventional ingot casting technology. The company however took a risk and included this in the project.
The proposal for the new steel plant was put before the Government of India in 1958 and a licence for the import of one 5 ton arc furnace, a continuous casting plant, the first in the whole of Asia, and a hot rolling mill. The foundation stone for this factory was laid by the late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on 10th January 1961. The first ton of molten spring steel was cast on 26th January 1965 – another milestone on a date of great significance. The company’s risk in going in for the new continuous casting technology paid off in the form of high quality spring steel. This technology pioneered in India by us has become an integral part of most steel plants in India. Even today there are only about a dozen steel plants manufacturing spring steel. Canara is the only spring plant in India with this captive steel plant facility, manufacturing the spring steel required for springs.
With the installation and commissioning of the alloy steel plant and having reached an unbeatable position of providing required raw material for the manufacture of leaf springs, the company consolidated its position in the 70’s and 80’s.