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Plant heads think lateral

Plants heads of organisations across sectors reveal some of the novel technologies they have adopted and the innovations they have done and plan in 2019

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Plant heads, Production heads, Technology, Innovation

Anil Singh, Plant Head, Hyderabad & Lead South Asia, Water Borne Stream, AkzoNobel India

The Hyderabad site has created history in cultural shift and turnaround of operations. It has adopted rigorous practices leading to eliminate human error and 450+ days without any First Aid cases. For the first time, gender diversity at production lines in paint industry had been another great step taken to bring efficiency and excellence in each area of operations.

World class manufacturing can happen only with GEMBA practices at shop floor and not by working  in offices. In manufacturing, ‘It's not about idea, but making them happen".

Some steps the company took were:
Kaizen: Small improvements make people happy and keep them motivated through recognitions & solve many problems.
Poka Yoke (Error-proofing) through one point lessons: Safety & quality incidents are triggered due to human error at shop floor and these need to be addressed.
PGR (Performance Gap Report): Substandard performance or breakdowns can kill and preventive measures need to be taken.
Nurturing talent: Invite students from engineering colleges and provide them a platform to learn world class manufacturing practices.

The company implemented world class manufacturing standards focussed on cost efficiency/cost deployment matrix. Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) improvement to done to achieve sustainability and cost agenda as indicator of responsible growth.

Automation enhancement for manpower productivity by keeping data analysis at its heart was achieved. The same was also done to avoid  human error which is a big concern and helps in ensuring safety of the employees. Machine and capital productivity improvement through digital usage helps in running them for a longer period of time.

Kailash Zanzari, Sr. VP (Manufacturing), Bajaj Auto

At the shop floor, the team of Bajaj Auto constantly makes an effort to improve assembly operations. Much effort is spent in automating processes as it offers consistent quality and fulfils the aim of delightful customers, which is the focus area for Bajaj Auto. The production team of the company work in two areas of improvements: Technology and system improvement. In terms of technology improvements, the company looks at ways to execute unmanned production, while improving quality. "Quality in the automotive sector means ways to improve the milli values of the component, so that clean components can be delivered to the assembly line. Often, few companies care to give importance to the washing operation and this is where we paid attention and it has paid off. Components are washed and dried before they reach the assembly line. This is an important aspect from the engine and durability point of view," says Zanzari.

Another innovation the company carried out is ensuring higher quality of components like the washer and getting better quality in terms of bore-to-face perpendicular tip, and surface finish which has helped in improving the engine quality.

The company has preferred to rope in cobots and automate lines for fewer dependence on manpower. "Manpower saving is a by-product, but this move has given us consistent quality and helped us from the cost point of view. Bajaj Auto has moved towards Vertical Machining Centres (VMC) from HMC as it helps bring down the CNC costs," he adds.

It has moved to environment-friendly paints, while reducing paint sludge. In terms of fabrication, over five years, Bajaj Auto has moved to installing robots and the same has been emulated in its supply chain too. Considering that seasonal demand can double or triple, hiring manpower has been challenging. "The assembly line has moved to MES and all critical SOPs, is managed by MES," he adds.


Vikas Sharma, CEO & Director, Bharat Aluminium Company Limited

Balco has installed a new 90KT alloy ingot line. This is the first successful indigenous development of A356.2 alloy ingots in India. It will help in capturing the domestic market of primary foundry alloys. It is a high NEP (Net Earning Premium) product and will increase the line-up of value-added aluminium products. Another thing that it's working on is developing a capability for producing ALSI alloy ingots to cater to global demand.

With this, Balco becomes the only supplier of the product in the country. It is in the process of designing an in-house wire rod facility to produce 11 grades of wire rod. Its premium customers have been supplied with new grades of wire rod for the first time. The company has made a Cathode Rotation Machine with in-house design and fabrication. This will make the work environment safe and easy. It will also lead to resource optimisation and better manpower engagement.

In terms of technologies, Balco achieved 100% automation of the In-Motion Railway Bridge via BTAP (Bogie Tanker for Alumina Powder) that improved turnaround time and reduced cost of alumina. It has developed an integrated Coal Transport Management System (ICTMS). This has many benefits: it is a single system for end-to-end coal cycle. Turnaround time has been reduced with the better management of the logistics transit process.

Balco has started the Central Monitoring and Diagnostic Centre (CMDC). This has addressed the cost and risk issue and maximised output. Central Security Control Room has been established. This helps in providing real-time alerts and enable respective business owners to take adequate security measures in time.

It has installed MES in Potline and SRS. This has introduced O&M analytics, provided with a KPI dashboard, evaluate trends, and integrate with SAP.

Sharma is working on digitalisation in SCM. The concept of micro-mill & multi-stand will be introduced along with rolling automation in rolled product. Geo-fencing for SCM is another focus area.

Dr Jochen Stallkamp, MD, BMW Group Plant Chennai

At BMW Group Plant Chennai, 2018 has been the year of focus on ‘Lean Management’. The plant started its journey in lean management through a structured rollout of Value-added Production System (VPS). With a clear VPS vision, road map and management commitment, the involvement of every associate across the organisation has improved multifold. More than process implementations, lean management has been ingrained as an attitude and thought process among all levels of the workforce.

Efficiency levels of all processes such as production, planning, quality, logistics and direct/indirect services have been enhanced, including even the smallest of activities.

"For us, the term ‘sustainable production’ means investing in our future. We are integrating this commitment through clear actions in our business model and production. Since 2006, the BMW Group has reduced its global consumption of energy and water in vehicle production, waste and waste water volume as well as solvents and CO2 emissions per vehicle produced by an average of 53.2%. In the same period, due to efficient use of resources, cost savings totaling ?161 million were made. The Group is increasingly using renewable energies at its locations worldwide. In 2017, we further increased our use of renewable energy for our electricity supply to 81%," says Stallkamp.

In India, at Chennai, the company has implemented the Environmental Policy under the Integrated Management System which is aligned with IS0 14001:2015 requirements. At BMW Group Plant Chennai, the 1,350kwp Solar Photovoltaic system caters to 61% of the plant energy consumption. "We save 50% of the lighting usage by utilising LED lighting. Besides this, fresh air fans have been replaced by energy efficient high-volume low-speed (HVLS) fans, saving 30% of energy in the ventilation system," he adds.


Alexander Klotz, TCI Head, Continental

One innovation Continental demonstrated is OcSM (Occupant Safety Monitor), which is currently being developed further at TCI, Bengaluru, utilising and integrating solutions and building blocks from its other existing products using electronics.

With OcSM, the occupants’ postures and other parameters will be monitored visually using cameras, indicating the optimum seating posture using Artificial Intelligence  algorithms to dynamically adapt airbag deployment strategies. This is an example of how AI is being used in emerging technologies for safety in automation. 

"This innovation, which is still under development, was showcased recently at SIAT 2019, Pune. The most important part of this innovation is not only about the safety of the occupant but also the comfort and understanding the user. As we move towards autonomous mobility, one cannot even call them the driver if they are being driven by autonomous vehicles, they are users/occupants," says Klotz.

Speaking about R&D hubs in India, Klotz says that the growth potential is a driving factor and the availability of talented engineers and the capabilities of a location to manage this talent pool is a big driver. "We’re in the market for the market. While we cannot be in every city, it is important to stay close to the customer for the engineering; this applies more strongly to manufacturing sectors. India is also a hub for Asia where we supply application projects to China, Japan and Korea and certainly for the India market as well," he adds.

The qualities of resources have been driven by the availability of skilled engineers. The company has a motivated team here where it works on innovations, and patents. "We need to ‘convince with value’ the customers and that's the only way we can grow," he says. Continental has moved to taking full project responsibility in product and innovation development. It has already moved into base production.

Balachandran Varadharajan, Director, Operations, Vehicle & Hydraulics, India, Eaton

Eaton has a clear roadmap in place for implementing Industry 4.0 across manufacturing operations. The company's strategy focuses on practices like automation, additive manufacturing and manufacturing execution system (MES).

Robots are being used at its plants to manage processes like forging, extrusion spooling, valve machining and integration of assembly lines, while software programmes are utilised for simulating and optimising layout of manufacture. Its vehicle plants in India use 3D printing to produce jigs and fixture among various other manufacturing components.

"At Eaton, we are also exploring the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies in the maintenance area of manufacturing," says Varadharajan. 

Going forward, the technologies that it aims to rely on, as part of MES, will help migrate from manual tracking to real time data environment. It is looking at implementing real time solution which will enable the company to go paperless, improve the manufacturing process control and predictive maintenance. Further, in the AM space, 3D will be the normal  process from tooling to assembly simulation and prototyping. It plans to deploy AM at all its four plants focusing on tooling, safety and quality devices.

With the help of Digital Manufacturing, it plans to migrate from non-integrated design and manufacturing to digital integration, besides implementing modeling software  and CAD/CAM to integrate design and manufacturing development leveraging virtual analysis.

"We will continue to implement simulation for all new lines, new layout proposals, and major RFQs for optimised outcomes. Automation and robotics engineering is looked at as agile, flexible and modular concept by product family, which enable smart handling systems. We will also continue to develop and  implement flexible machine automation standards by product family, based on mix, demand and complexity," he adds.
AM helps improve productivity by reducing time and cost to develop tooling, improves safety and quality by faster deployment of poka-yoke. Digital Manufacturing helps improve plant design, productivity, and RFQ process by looking at different options.


Girish Chhablani, Factory Manager, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, Sanand

In order to improve efficiency, margins, and product differentiation, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) did a study and conducted Value Stream Mapping to understand non-value adding activities undertaken by the plant. It found that there was some duplication of work resulting in operator fatigue. The company co-created a software that is exclusive to HCCB. This software helps in data capturing on a real-time basis which not only helps analyse the issues better, but also helps associates free up from routine non value-adding activities. It took the partners almost a year to develop this software as per requirements.

There is no dearth of technologies and, importantly, they have become affordable. The digitisation journey has helped enhance productivity and bring in the desired efficiencies. Data capturing which largely used to happen once a week, is now being done in real time. In case there are any discrepancies the issues are addressed on a real-time basis. Other innovations that have helped are ASRS (an automated warehousing technology), transport management system, control tower system and robotic purchase order generation.

Predictive Analysis is what Chhablani would like to adopt. This technology is also in its list of innovations to implement in 2019. There are plans to adopt Industry 4.0 to create an integrated supply chain. Possible technology and use-cases they would like to adopt are: IoT for sensor network across plants and warehouses for real-time monitoring, AL and MI to transition to a predictive maintenance model, Augmented Reality to connect remote experts with field technicians and Virtual Reality to train employees. It is evaluating ways to use AI to arrive at predictive analysis. The technologies are promising but are yet to prove their mettle in an Indian industry setting as several constraints such as lack of seamless connectivity render the tech functionally and economically unviable. Rigorous low-cost use-case generation and validation is the most important step to adopt such technology.

V Sridhar, Group VP & Director, Production, Honda 2Wheelers

Honda 2Wheelers' prime focus has always been using safe, high quality, efficient and environment-friendly processes to manufacture its products. It is benchmarking its manufacturing processes on the shop floor with Honda’s global plants in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Its latest plant in Gujarat is Honda's first 2-wheeler plant worldwide where the entire press shop is operated by robots. The company has used technology to improve the quality of its products through digital eye technology and traceability of in-house parts with QR codes in machine shop. Quality of production processes has also been improved by intelligent tool life monitoring. "As digital manufacturing gets popular, our third plant in Karnataka is one of the first auto factories in India to use this for improving asset utilisation. A centralised intelligent system connected to 250 CNCs provides intelligent data on the condition of machine thereby pre warning maintenance personnel," he says.

All its plants are environment friendly and have been designed under Honda's concept of "Joy to the Next Generation". The Karnataka plant will achieve 92% of power utilisation from solar energy, through onsite rooftop panels (7MW) and by sourcing through off-site solar power. The Rajasthan plant has set a new benchmark in industrial safety practices and accident prevention by winning 1st place in ‘lowest average frequency rate’ at the National Safety Awards organised by Ministry of Labour & Employment.

Sridhar believes that digital manufacturing will alter the face of manufacturing. Manufacturers would like to introduce new products. However, lead time from concept stage to mass production stage takes between 18  and 30 months. With advancement in digitisation & 3D printing, product development lead time can be reduced significantly. These innovative technologies will enable “First time Right designs” & zero defect manufacturing. By combining digital twin of a product, new production processes can be virtually tested and optimised before any physical work has been started.


Ganesh Mani S, Sr. VP, Production Division, Hyundai Motor India

HMIL has adopted a bottom-up approach equipping employees by upskilling & multiskilling them across rank and functions with technical know-how. strengthened this by deploying sophisticated digital tools. It has a platform to identify and utilise untapped potential of skilled employees to create sustainable, low-cost automation & fatigue reduction solutions in-house improving working conditions and quality efficiencies across shop floors.

In 2019, it plans to implement smart digital tools including smart plier, smart marker, etc. to augment operators assembly process to ensure fool proof and increase efficiency. Automated systems like ‘Smart Bins’ are used in assembly shops to pick components and assemble them with zero spec error.

Machines have been classified in three categories A, B and C with A being highly critical equipment  directly affecting delivery and quality. Preventive maintenance focuses on debottlenecking critical lines and stations, ensuring 100% machine availability. 
Simultaneously, it is training employees for the EV revolution and exploring and integrating renewable energy options towards becoming a self-sustainable plant. This year, HMIL plans to develop methods & means to elevate/support a worker’s arms in assisting them with tasks involving body movement chest upwards. It has a two-pronged approach. The first is a basic training enhancing the five senses. The second is “virtual reality” based training. It is also  planning to enhance this training process by exploring mixed-reality Hololens technologies to skill-up employees in critical & safety processes.

HMIL preempts major operational glitches through ‘structured daily audits’ to identify/visualise any abnormalities engaging employees across all levels with zone specific check points to improve safety, quality, productivity, cost and energy, environment and, more importantly, people connect across its 536 acres campus.


Anil Makkar, Manufacturing Director, JK Tyre & Industries

Over the last couple of years, manufacturing excellence has been defined in various ways.

"We have been studying the market closely and it has given us several creative ideas to improve shop floor experiences starting from interchangeable parts to assembly lines to Toyota Production Systems, Lean Management, and statistical process control. And now the digitisation process of manufacturing systems has further enhanced our expertise," says Makkar.

In the last 5-10 years, the company has observed that prevalent creativeness comes by involving one's workforce directly focused on small improvements and improvisations on a regular basis. This is because it needs to keep its people motivated by giving them the ownership of the processes for best possible results.

Makkar says there are only two fundamental future trends, which are mostly being talked about i.e. sustainability and digitisation or Industry 4.0. These two particular initiatives adopted in manufacturing-oriented industries will drive the manufacturing process to the next level in next couple of years.

"There are challenges in both sustainability and digitisation but that's what we are all here for: to address and rectify these hurdles and without loss of efficiency. We believe in identifying challenges, devising solutions and moving forward," he says.

It's a given that consumer demands are constantly changing. They are not only looking for durability while buying tyres but also focusing on rolling resistance, which means lower fuel consumption, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions, finally culminating into a more sustainable product.

At the shop floor level, it has been focusing on energy efficiency and it has been a big carter for them from last five years. JK Tyres started driving energy excellence and has derived much mileage from this initiative.

"Our next step is safety first. We are continuously pushing safety aspects so that we can protect human elements as well as the environment. A harmonised effort towards achieving all these ends ensures that JK Tyres remains at the helm of productivity, quality, safety, while also ensuring a greener tomorrow," adds Makkar.

Vijay Kalra, Chief of Manufacturing, Automotive Division, Mahindra & Mahindra

At Mahindra, we believe that people are the key differentiators in building a great organisation, says Kalra. In order to develop, nurture and groom them, the company has  created an ecosystem that supports holistic development of the individual. It has introduced various interventions such as employee of the month, employee of the year, skill competitions, cultural celebrations, various functional trainings on product and processes and behavioural training programmes to keep the team motivated to ensure that they deliver the best results.

For continuous skill upgradation, the company has state-of-the-art dexterities. Also, it holds competition for manufacturing excellence such as “Jagruti”, in which its associates are assessed and rewarded. This has really helped M&M in creating a standard based culture. "We also have a platform “i4” for our associates where they suggest ideas for cost reduction, productivity, safety and quality improvement. These ideas are then assessed and suitably awarded. Several skill competitions are also conducted at the plant and organisation level in areas of assembly, painting, welding, CNC, diagnostic, mechatronics, etc. We have established a mechatronics academy in every plant to develop our associates on future skills such as Internet of Things, Virtual Reality, etc.," he says. These initiatives and competitions have helped the company in upgrading the skills of its associates and has brought laurels to the company in the form of awards at national and international levels.

Kalra says the manufacturing sector is moving from Lean to Smart and technology is making an impact on every step of the process. Industries are making advances in fields such as robotics, machine learning, AM, IoT, etc. Going forward, manufacturing will become more efficient, customised, modular and automated. This will help meet customer expectations in terms of quality and responsiveness.


Dr Harald Manzenrieder, Head of Production, Volkswagen India

At Volkswagen Pune Plant, the shop floor team has been promoting innovation to a great extent over the last few years. The idea has been to achieve low cost automation in the plant. It has approached this goal by implementing:
i) Low cost techniques and solutions that have come to the fore through out-of-the-box thinking
ii) Low cost methods by in-house sourcing and, finally,
iii) Low cost reusing/recycling of equipment.

An example of low cost technique implemented in its body shop would be the visualisation done for the production process. Earlier, manual alert for every model changeover during production was required. With in-house development, there is an overview available in real-time and all production adjustments can be done without manual alerts. Additionally, all production information is available in real-time to the management at click of a button and the company has achieved reduction in downtime caused due to miscommunication during model changeover. In case of any issues during production, team leaders can identify exact location of issue and solve without losing any time.
VW India is investing towards adapting the plant for digitalisation and Industry 4.0. It has mapped the areas where digitalisation in manufacturing can be brought in to enhance efficiency and also designed the roadmap for the coming years. For example, currently its body shop, paint shop, engine shop and assembly are all working independently. In the near future, all these shops will be connected.

Manufacturing is moving towards Industry 4.0. One challenge is conversion of production processes involving existing and new equipment and marrying them. New sensor technologies are being introduced to gather data from the systems. By analytics, manufacturers are able to improve production in terms of productivity and efficiency. Plant simulation is another big system taking shape. Cyber-physical systems can effectively plan production as well as maintenance.

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