A New Autopia

Plant Visit

By Jayashree Kini Mendes

Sometimes it pays to change horses midstream. Provided you have an alternative or back-up plan. That’s what Tata Motors did at the Sanand plant in Gujarat. The facility, which was set up to produce the Nano, is now being utilised to manufacture the Tiago and Tigor. The smaller numbers of Nano is compelling the company to manufacture other models based on orders received.
What the company did not foresee and expect was that the Sanand plant would soon go on to achieve 100% capacity utilisation. Since the last few quarters, Tata Motors has been seeing a robust demand for Tiago and Tigor, and accordingly announced production ramp-up at its plant. The Sanand plant has a production capacity of 1,54,000 units and so far the plant has manufactured 4,60,000 units since its inception in June 2010. The 5,00,000 unit production mark will be celebrated in October 2018.

Tata Motors employs both women and men to assemble engines and cars.

Speaking about strategy, Mayank Pareek, president, passenger vehicle business, Tata Motors, said, “We have worked a strategy of ‘Turnaround 2.0’ and that stands on three pillars—sales enhancement, cost reduction, and improving efficiencies. This is where Sanand plays an important role. The whole idea is to win Sustainability in PVs. A lean manufacturing process plays a key role in our growth strategy, enabling the Sanand plant to contribute around 60% of the overall PV production. The plant has already achieved WCQ 3 level in quality standards and we are proud of this achievement.”

With 190 robots, automation takes a front seat at Sanand.

The new obsession on cost control is powered by the company’s ‘GEAR’ (Generate idea, evaluate, action and realise the idea) programme. Implemented for the PV business at the start of the ongoing financial year, it’s part of a second phase of a turnaround strategy scripted by Guenter Butschek, the managing director. The firm’s ability to pass on costs and command a pricing power will be a key driver of profitability. Presently, Tata Motors makes PVs at four locations — Sanand (Ahmedabad), Pimpri and Ranjangaon (Pune), and Pantnagar (Haridwar).
Rajesh Khatri, head of manufacturing operations, Tata Motors, said, “From 150,000 units (a year) we can hike it to 160,000-165,000 units without making any significant investment. We can add two new robots and produce one car in 75 seconds instead of 128 seconds taken now.” Tata Motors has so far invested about Rs 4,500 crore at the Sanand plant.

. Workers kit and assemble parts and the car.

The unit’s capacity is expected to rise up to 30% without additional investment as it focuses on getting more out of the plant’s assets. “The team here has ramped up capacity very well. From around 7,000 per month around two years ago, we are now manufacturing 11,500 units without putting any additional investment. The buzzword is how to improve efficiency and how to get more out of the same which we have been able to do successfully. We see this unit getting 20-30% more capacity without any additional investment,” Pareek pointed out.
Spread across 1,100 acres, the Sanand plant has helped develop the automotive industry in Gujarat. From a single-model (Nano) plant in 2010, it has emerged as a multi-model facility and one of the most technologically advanced plants in the country today. With a flexible assembly line, the plant currently manufactures the Nano, Tiago hatchback and Tigor sedan in 21 variants with 150 vehicle combinations. It also produces engines like the Revotron 1.2-litre petrol (manual and automatic transmission), the Revotorq 1.05-litre diesel, the 624cc MPFI petrol (manual and AT) and the 1.2-litre NGTC petrol (manual and AT).

The Tiago now makes up more than 45% of Tata Motors’ domestic PV volumes clocking between 8,000 and 10,000 units a month; the Tigor sells around 2,000-2,500 units. In January 2018, the Sanand plant also produced the first electric passenger vehicle for commercial use in the form of the Tigor EV and continues to support deliveries of the EESL order.
Pareek is also keen that the company makes cars that are distinct and different. “This philosophy we called as impact design. Our three design studios (London, Italy, and Pune) work concurrently to bring out impactful designs. Considering that it takes four years to come up with a new design, we are now looking at designing cars for 2022,” he added.
Tata Motors is currently mapping out its modular architecture plans and will distribute passenger-vehicle manufacturing responsibilities between its Pune and Sanand facilities to meet its product expansion plans. It plans to bring around 10-12 new products in passenger vehicles segment in the next five years. The new products, to be developed on two new platforms—Alpha and Omega—will help the company to have presence in over 90% of the Indian passenger vehicles market. The first vehicle from this architecture will be the SUV Harrier (which will be made at the Pune plant) and launched in Q4 2018.

Critical fittings are done using a robot.

According to Pareek, Tata Motors which currently has a 6.8% PV market share, has been “outgrowing the PV market for 30 months consecutively. Our product portfolio covers 70% of the PV market now; the target is to cover 90% by 2020”.
The plant also produces three different variants of petrol engines and aims to increase the production in the near future. Khatri says, “We are at present producing about 500 engines per day and we will increase it to 600 units a day in coming days.”
In terms of manufacturing, the Sanand plant has 155 types of dyes for 42 parts with an auto dye changing facility that takes only one minute. The manufacturer makes the outer panels in-house and sources steel from Posco, Tata Steel and JFE, Japan. The flexible manufacturing system allows the company to produce all the variants on a single line.
The plant houses press line, weld shop, paint shop, assembly line and powertrain shop. Testing and development facilities include coordinate measuring machine for body-in-white dimensional management, paint and lubes testing lab, wheel alignment, roll and brake, shower testing facilities as well as metallurgy and metrology (NABL accredited labs).

Saving the Environment

he plant makes 500 engines per day across its variants.

The Sanand plant is Tata Motors’ youngest facility and leverages technology–over 190 robots and high levels of automation–to increase productivity across processes. In the past two years, the number of staffers has increased by 80%, to around 4,500. At present, the plant employs nearly 100% white collar staff from Gujarat against the mandated requirement of 85%.
The manufacturing unit is a zero-discharge plant and has a systematic hazardous waste disposal process, which led to it being awarded CII’s GreenCo Platinum Certification. The plant uses renewable energy to the scale of 30% of its total power consumption. It has commissioned 2MW of rooftop solar panels and off-site wind power mills with a 9MW capacity. The plant has a 180-acre green belt along with several other initiatives aimed at reducing the carbon footprint. With a focus on climate change, the Sanand plant has achieved a 1,300-tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) carbon-emission reduction at a monthly average in FY2018.


Setting benchmarks

Sanand plant reaches 100% capacity utilisation; rolled out over 450,000 units since inception.
Produces 21 variants of cars with 150 vehicle combinations.
Utilises 190 robots and uses 30-35% renewable energy.
Launches Turnaround 2.0 aiming to ‘Win sustainably in PVs’.
First electric PV rolls out of the plant in January.
Produces 500 engines per day.
Achieved WCQ Level 3 in Quality Standards.
Contributes to 60% of the overall PV production.


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