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Showing the way forward

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Event Report

Manufacturing Today’s Excellence Summit held in Vadodara successfully brought out the nuances of the manufacturing industry | Manufacturing Today, along with its presenting partner Aditya Birla Group, kicked off the first of its four cities tour at Vadodara. Held on 14th October, 2014 at Surya Palace, Vadodara, The Manufacturing Today Excellence Summit aimed at creating a knowledge based platform where key people from cross sections of the industry could come together and discuss the way forward for Indian manufacturing.

The event was supported by Vadodara Chamber of Commerce (VCCI) and SME Chamber of India. With the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) as the knowledge partners, the summit witnessed a focussed audience of 150.

Ratan Shah, group executive president and chief manufacturing officer, Ultratech Cement was the keynote speaker at the event. Talking about the main concern of retaining talent in the manufacturing industry, he said, “When the PM recently presented his speech in the US he was selling the immense talent and the manpower resource that is available in India. However, we see a lot of this talent go to foreign countries rather than staying put here. The biggest challenge for manufacturing remains to retain and grow this talent within our businesses.”

Giving references of the industry he comes from, cement, he mentioned that the most modern and state-of-the-art cement plants are in India and yet we face shortage of skills. “Earlier our industry used to recruit from top institutes of the likes of the IITs. It’s been almost 15 years since we have recruited from such top institutes. Students today prefer to do an MBA or enter the services sector rather than manufacturing.”

Another challenge he mentioned is of creating leaders. He said that people limit themselves to the knowledge they have and stop exploring newer areas/avenues to grow. In order to encourage employees to broaden their horizons, he started the trend of compulsory rotation in his company within the purview of manufacturing.

India is an amalgam of different languages, cultures, behaviours and the way one would behave in say Tamil Nadu will not be the same if he moves to Gujarat. Also, every plant functions differently though the equipment is the same. Through this relocation, we wanted our people to encounter a new set of people, new environment and the learning’s he gets from all this is tremendous. In the last five years we have relocated around 600 people and each of them has transformed and grown successfully.”

Shah also detailed on Aditya Birla Group creating Centres of Excellence to foster growth and creating leaders. Towards the end, he urged the manufacturing community to come together and devise strategies to make manufacturing the best place to attract and retain talent from every level. “If the country has to grow it will depend on manufacturing and service. China is the best example of manufacturing dependent growth. Thus, if the country has to have sustainable growth, manufacturing must grow and we should all work towards this goal.”

The keynote was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Made in India – Manufacturing the way forward’. The contour of the discussion was shaped by Rajesh Nath, MD, VDMA and the panelists comprised an eclectic mix of eminent dignitaries namely Nilesh Shukla, president, VCCI, Ratan Shah, Amit Bhatnagar, MD, Diamond Power Infrastructure, Shirish Divgi, MD, Ferromatik Milacron, Geeta Goradia, MD, Jewel Consumer Care and Ravind Mithe, partner, KPMG.

Starting the discussion, Nath averred, “Our country is at very interesting crossroads. The last two years have been very difficult for us with the GDP growth, which was progressing well at 7-8%, stagnated in the last couple of years and almost after a decade we had a GDP growth of less than 5%. However, the change in Government and the PM pushing for inclusive growth has changed the scenario. It is time for the industry to pick up and to rise to the global level to meet global challenges.”

Shukla started the discussion and though he was enthusiastic about the PMs campaign, he urged the audience to contemplate on the difficulties at hand. “For anything to be successful here, first the mindset has to change. There is too much of corruption everywhere right now and we need a system in place to clear the stumbling blocks. To make the campaign come alive we need to become more productive and for this we need the labour reforms to be redefined.

Skill development is another important area which has to be concentrated on.” Taking forward this thread of discussion, Shah ascertained that within the Aditya Birla Group they have a center for higher level learning for senior management, which is based outside Mumbai.

“We have an elaborate way of identifying talent and use the concept of Development Assessment Center (DAC) wherein we identify and train potential candidates. We create special individuals development programs and then run the leadership programs group wise.”

Goradia spoke extensively on technology upgradation and said that they started as a small company and today are middle scale company because of their technology and e-Governance. “I think if we want our SMEs to be globally competitive we will have to ensure technology upgradation and this has to be a continuous drive.”

Divgi highlighted the importance of excellence in manufacturing. He mentioned quite candidly how when they started off they were not very good and how excellence was the only way forward. He said that manufacturers in India tend to get complacent when things are going good and he was one of them.

“Five years ago we were doing very well and were happy with our progress. One day, I entered the shopfloor and realised it was dirty with lot of rusted parts lying around here and there. We decided to implement 5S and have managed to execute it successfully since the last three years. Today, our factory is as good as the best in the industry.” Mithe said that it was wonderful to see the government talk about improvements and changes. However, “unless we are able to create initiatives that are designed and implemented well it is not possible to succeed.”

There was another panel discussion in the latter half of the day on ‘upgrading competitiveness through process and skill enhancement’. Since, this is such an important topic we shall cover it in detail in the next issue. Do stay tuned in for more.

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