TKM: The car company in front
Raju Ketkale, deputy MD, Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM), is diligently following the set systems and processes and one that is globally admired
There’s not a single car maker that has not modelled its manufacturing and supply chain management on Toyota’s “lean production” system. Reams have been written about its systems and processes. Much of what is described as the Toyota Production System is now part of everyday business language.
With “just-in-time” delivery came the biggest influx of Japanese vocabulary into English since the importation of judo. Soon factories across the world were using kanban controls—tags to control the flow of parts—and were practising kaizen, the process of continuously seeking small improvements to gain greater efficiency, better ergonomics and higher quality.
In order to stay in the fray, global auto manufacturers are required to regularly launch new products. The competitive nature of the business compels auto companies to indulge in plenty of R&D so as to stand out in the market. Recently, TKM revealed images of the interiors of its youngest urban SUV, the all-new Toyota Urban Cruiser. It’s entering the compact SUV segment with this. The Urban Cruiser gets a BS6-compliant, 1.5-litre, petrol engine. The motor develops maximum power of 103bhp and peak torque of 138Nm. The transmission options include 5-speed MT and 4-speed AT. The Urban Cruiser AT is equipped with a smart hybrid system.
Raju Ketkale, deputy MD, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, gets candid about the advancements that the company has made today and tells Manufacturing Today about today’s production process and how the company is dealing with Covid-19 blues.
You have begun production after a gap of almost two months. What are some of the measures you have in place today?
RK: As a global company, we spoke to our counterparts there to understand how they are dealing with opening up factories. We then put in place a restart manual and set some rules that need to be followed. This is in terms of social distancing or using mask and gloves, among other things that need to be followed. The social distancing norms were not only at the shop floor, but across where employees might come together. An interesting things we did was offer training to our supervisors and management before starting operations on May 26. We started with one shift and initially faced challenges as people were averse to protective equipment. But things did improve and gradually we moved to two shifts.
What are the five major milestones in this journey from a manufacturing perspective?
The first major milestone for Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) in India from a manufacturing perspective was the start of production of cars with the Qualis in 1999. The Qualis went on to endear itself to many generations of car buyers in India and remains one of the most sought-after cars though we no longer manufacture it. The next milestone for us was the ISO-14001 certification for our manufacturing plant in Bidadi in 2001 and start of journey towards eco-friendly plant operation.
The start of production and the launch of the multi-purpose vehicle, Innova, in 2005 was the third milestone as it helped us create a segment leader, which continues even today. The commencement of production from the second plant of 201K capacity, which is state-of-the-art plant with innovative technology, in Bidadi on December 2010 was an important milestone. We received an award for both the Bidadi plants for ‘Zero Non-Conformance’, “manufacturing excellence award” from Frost & Sullivan in 2015 & No 1 environment-management company among Toyota plants, Asia Pacific region, for three years. These were the key milestones from manufacturing standpoint.
Please tell us about your manufacturing capabilities and capacities.
We are driven by the mission of creating a stable, sustainable and competitive local supply chain to help achieve the government’s ‘Make in India’ mission. We are passionate and committed to building a self-reliant and globally competitive value chain through tremendous efforts and investments in processes and human development.
Due to this approach, a significant number of auto parts and components have been localised and we can run our production smoothly without any impact even during disruptive events such as the COVID-19. Further, we constantly try to increase the localisation levels with every new product launch and cut our dependence on imports limited to the extent of parts where there is no supply base available in India. We will continue to work closely with the Government of India in the country by supporting our Tier I, II and III suppliers to reduce import dependence and become globally cost-competitive. The aim is to contribute as much as possible to turn India into a global manufacturing hub.
Another important aspect is our firm belief in the philosophy of Kaizen (continuous improvement) that drives us towards quality, making it a way of life for us. We aim to continue our concerted efforts in leading the way to the future of mobility and build ever-better cars and communities in harmony with nature through sustainable approaches.
Sustainability is an integral part of our plant initiatives. For instance, our manufacturing plant is designed with an ‘Eco-Factory’ concept to maximise output with minimum input by creating a highly optimised manufacturing process. This is right from our energy-efficient servo press to our state-of-the-art global bodyline, which helped in energy efficiency. We also use waterborne paint and a water recycling system that recycles 60 per cent wastewater back into the process. During FY 2019, we could source 93.35 per cent of our total energy requirement through renewable sources like solar & wind, which has contributed to reduction of 43,895 tonnes per year of CO2 cumulatively we could reduce 206000 tons of CO2 since FY 2014-15.
Besides, we could achieve reduction of freshwater consumption by 2959000M3 since FY2014-15 i.e. for manufacturing by 92.5 per cent through wastewater recycling and rainwater harvesting facilities, thereby leading to higher resource optimization and contributing to a greener society. Received CII national award as recognition for water conservation in year 2017.
From a capability standpoint, after successful launch of Qualis, we got the opportunity to produce the Innova, which is a global model and successfully launched it in India along with other countries. With the launch of Etios series, TKM became the leading and first country to manufacture and export this model (India First and Global First). Later, TKM drew curtains on the widely appreciated Etios series nearly a decade after the debut of the sedan, paving the way for advanced technologies to be introduced in the market.
Further, recently we seamlessly transitioned our manufacturing plant to BS-VI to comply with regulations without any disruption in catering to our customers. In terms of capacity, we have built an exclusive assembly line for manufacturing the new Camry Hybrid that caters to the Indian market. The total installed production capacity is up to 3,10,000 units. All this is possible through our intense focus on human development and continuous improvement culture of shop floor to top.
Please tell us about your R&D efforts.
When we started operations in India, the scope was just liaising between the local engineering function with our Global Technical Centre. Over the years, we have upgraded our capability through continuous improvement focussing on skills and knowledge through ICT scheme to promote product development and validation locally where we could leverage the Indian ecosystem in terms of local testing/evaluation facility, supplier chain, etc to improve greater flexibility and cost competitiveness. Enhancement of our capabilities included covering, end-to-end parts localisation, parts validation, vehicle evaluation, testing, certification and homologation. Gradually we could upgrade to localise critical commodity like transmission and engine and leveraging, developing Indian supplier base. For example, Etios gasoline engine and the Innova Crysta diesel engine are just some of the examples.
Besides, the deep localisation, local design team has also acquired value engineering, vehicle evaluation & testing skills which support the global team to tune design based on local condition in terms of road worthiness and customer expectations. So, with this all local models design performance setting is proposed by locally.
In terms of design capability, TKM engineers managed product model life management with continually refresh product aesthetically with tweaking exterior parts design, suitable accessories development, colour, fabrics, etc. For example, Etios model life management, and the Innova fleet are completely managed by the local design team.
In future, TKM engineering will be part of regional virtual Technical centre, where our designers will be working on regional designing project with Regional team (TDEM) and with this opportunity they will further sharpen their design skill which will lead to become self-reliant in design.