Voice of the Vanguards

Features, Cover Story

Pioneering professionals from leading manufacturing companies divulge their strategic plans for 2018.

by Jayashree Mendes & Mitalee Kurdekar

CEO speak
It helps when manufacturing companies talk about what they do, how they do, and why they do. The CEO is expected to boost morale with talks (and actions) and build a shared sense of purpose among people of different ages and skills. Offering employees a sense of purpose and meaning can help in overall development of people and the company. CEOs possess leadership qualities and alongside they must create such abilities in their employees. A leader must stand out if people are to follow him.

Akzo Nobel India, Jayakumar Krishnaswamy, MD
“Everything we do is driven by an unwavering focus towards our customers, a deeply embedded commitment to sustainability leadership, an insatiable appetite for innovation and a passionate approach towards community wellbeing,” states Krishnaswamy.
At AkzoNobel, the focus has been on long-term objectives through investment in strengthening brands, R&D, distribution expansion and capability building. In the last 3-5 years, close to about 10-12% of their growth has been through new products.
“We have a constant and a robust innovation pipeline,” proclaims Krishnaswamy.
Speaking on his personal learnings as CEO, Krishnaswamy says, “It has been an interesting journey with AkzoNobel so far. The biggest and the key learning is that understanding the consumer and providing them with sustainable solutions is crucial for a successful business. As the leading paints and coatings manufacturer in the world, we at AkzoNobel ensure that we are always one step ahead of our customers’ needs by constantly monitoring emerging social and economic trends around the world. We study trends because we want to be at the cutting edge of what consumers want.”

Alstom, Alain Spohr, MD, India & South Asia
For their sector of expertise, Alstom views India as a market of immense opportunities.
“The growing urban population in the country opens up huge opportunities for us in helping develop mobility solutions and in the field of space-making for cities. As an employer, the talent pool in India is rich and diverse in terms of knowledge and skill. Along with delivering on the prestigious projects already underway, our focus in 2018 is to invest in leveraging these available resources and opportunities to strengthen our footprint in India and develop it as a base for innovation and manufacturing for our customers worldwide,” points out Spohr.
Alstom believes that the way forward to smart, sustainable future in mobility lies in boosting innovation to increase differentiation, investing in competitiveness-oriented technology and in optimising customers’ total cost of ownership.
“What is interesting to observe in these times of technology and disruptive innovation, is that in spite of a rise in investment in the field of leadership development, statistics show a rise in attrition in key leadership positions across the world. Globalisation and technological advances now demand a fresh leadership format that is able to manage heightened anxieties. The challenge is to be able to successfully navigate technology while preserving the human touch,” admits Spohr.
In addition, adaptability and transparency are other assets that he finds extremely valuable, going on to add that, “Leaders must walk the talk and lead by example.”

BHEL, Atul Sobti, CMD
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has won a prestigious order for setting up a 660MW coal-based thermal power project with supercritical parameters in Maharashtra. Valued at over Rs 2,800 crore, the project would be set up as an expansion project (Unit 6) of Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (Mahagenco)’s Bhusawal Thermal Power Station (TPS) in Maharashtra.
In another news, after being delayed for nearly 11 years, work on the Udangudi Super Critical Thermal Power Project is set to begin. The estimated Rs 100-billion project, to be funded by Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), will be executed by BHEL in 42 months. REC Ltd has agreed to support the project, with a financial assistance of Rs 105 billion to set up the 1,320MW Udangudi Stage-1 power project. BHEL has won an EPC contract worth Rs 73 billion in an international competition bidding for installing Supercritical Thermal Power Project (TPP).
Similarly, construction of the state-V 800MW unit of the Dr Narla Tatarao Thermal Power Station (NTTPS) is going on at a brisk pace. It is likely to be commissioned by early 2019 as the Boiler, Turbine and Generator (BTG) and the Balance of Plant (BOP) work has been expedited by BHEL and the BGR Energy Systems Limited (BESL) respectively.
The shell of the natural draft cooling tower will be ready by the end of 2018. Construction of NTTPS’ 800MW unit and the one of equal capacity at Damodaram Sanjeevaiah Thermal Power Station at Krishnapatnam is going in tandem, the latter being executed by the Tata Projects.

BMW group India, Vikram Pawah, President
Today, BMW India is a fast growing luxury car manufacturer in the country. It has achieved this radical growth as a result of an all-round strategy, a resolute approach in its implementation and absolute commitment to customers and their needs.
BMW India started last year by shaping its strategy for the next three years under a new umbrella – Power to Lead. The company sincerely believes that ‘Power to Lead’ is a promise to create an impact – clearly discernible and measurable. As it started out on implementing this strategy, it was confronted with various challenges due to ambiguity and instability in the regulatory framework.
With an agility and preparedness, BMW Group delivered its best sales performance in India till date with a remarkable annual growth of 25%.
The future strategy for India includes new directions, methodologies and prioritisation to become the most desirable premium automotive brand. How it gears up for the next 10 years will define its future. In 2018, it has a clear agenda drawn out and at the top is its goal to increase the overall market size.
In 2018, the company plans to go on a product offensive with all three brands. This began at the Auto Expo and will be carried forward throughout the year with the launch of most-awaited products in the Indian luxury vehicle market. It also plans to grow its dealer network, developing not just number of touchpoints but the highest standards in future retail.

Bosch Ltd, Dr Andreas Wolf, Joint Managing Director
Dr. Andreas Wolf prefers to call the company as a supplier of technology and services or the ‘Internet of Things’ company. India is the biggest hub, outside of Germany, where 18,000 work on areas related to R&D alone. With 10 legal entities, 17 manufacturing locations and 1,500 business partners, the conglomerate expects to grow at a CAGR of 6-8% in one of the fastest growing economies in the world. That’s how important India is to Bosch.
“We have several plants globally, from automotive to packaging to electronics to power tools and security systems. It’s important that we transfer the knowhow gained from one plant to other locations. That way collaboration of the plants happen on a global level,” he says.
Bosch’s Chakan plant has achieved a quality level close to zero defects. Not only that, it has also recorded high customer satisfaction apart from seeing significant increase in productivity. In the near future, the plant will look to implement Industry 4.0 solutions for preventive maintenance, energy management and even for the training of shop floor associates along with the possibility of linking factory systems to business applications.
His goal is to ensure that all the 17 plants in India achieve operational excellence, work deftly on the Bosch Production System (BPS), and engage in Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing.

Brahmos aerospace, Dr Sudhir Mishra, CEO & MD

BrahMos Aerospace, the makers of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, which completes 20 years on February 12, has many firsts to its credit. It is the first successful JV between India and Russia; it has met manufacturing and delivery timelines; it has been accepted by all three defence services — the Navy, Army and the Air Force; with its supersonic speed of 2.8 Mach, it is difficult to intercept; given its speed, weight and accuracy, its enormous kinetic energy would blow depth targets to smithereens, making it a strategic weapon with conventional warheads; with India joining the Missile Technology Control Regime club, its advertised range of 290km can be increased to 600km and so on.
BrahMos Aerospace is currently working on the development of yet another superior variant of BrahMos LACM which would have a “near vertical dive and surround attack” capability. The new BrahMos Block-IV, as it would be called,will have the power to strike off an enemy position from top, at an angle of 900, thus rendering immense flexibility to the Army’s combat potentiality.
India is set extend the range of BrahMos cruise missile to 800 kilometres and test the new variant by the end of this year. Countries which are not members of the MTCR are not allowed to purchase or jointly produce missiles with a range of more than 300km with countries inside the club.
The effort to arm IAF’s upgraded MiG-29s, Rafale jets and Indian Navy’s MiG-29Ks are also underway.

Coal India Limited, Gopal Singh, Interim Chairman & MD (CMD)
The state-owned mining company, Coal India Limited (CIL), is currently headed by Gopal Singh. The post is so sought after that as many as 35 public sector employees, bureaucrats, officers belonging to the armed forces and private companies recently expressed interest for the position of CMD. Even as acting CMD, Singh has his work cut out for him.
CIL has a projection of producing one billion tonne of coal by 2022. In fact, the company produced 554.14 million tonne of coal in 2016-17. “Hike in coal production in the last three years has helped mining major CIL save Rs 25,900 crore in foreign exchange,” according to Gopal Singh. Coal imports are said to have accounted for 25% of the country’s total coal consumption in 2015-16, and 23% in 2016-17.
Coal stock in at least over a dozen thermal power plants in the country has turned critical, according to a recent report by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. Singh has stressed on swift exploitation of domestic fossil fuel reserves in order to meet future demand and reduce the dependence on imports.
“The large planned new coal-based thermal capacity is likely to put pressure on coal resources. Coal-based power generation capacity of 125 GW in 2012 is likely to go up to more than 330-441 GW by 2040 (192 GW in FY 2017). The demand for these plants is likely to be first met by domestic coal, which will require quick exploitation of our reserves. Import dependence in oil and gas is understandable, given the poor reserves we have, but import dependence on coal – particularly non-coking coal – is something that can be addressed by swift exploitation of domestic coal reserves,” believes Singh.

Force Motors, Prasan Firodia, Managing Director
Year 2017 was a very eventful one for Force Motors. The company successfully handled the turbulence in business arising successively from demonetisation, transition to GST and preparing for the full transition to the BS-IV standard of emission, for the full range of vehicles made by the company.
A number of new product development projects have been taken up and are being strongly pursued. The R&D department has been re-organised with a matrix structure – for project leadership and programme management. As industry players, Force Motors continues to expand the management band width, the skill set, the knowledge bank, and the infrastructure and equipment for these R&D programmes, in a balanced manner.
The customer touch points for service have systematically been increased over the last couple of years, and ambitious targets fixed for further expansion. The programme for fielding BS-VI vehicles and engines by 2020 is now strongly under way. Dedicated facilities and fully equipped high tech laboratories – for engine and vehicle development – for complying with the BS-VI regulations are commissioned and operative. Dedicated teams of highly qualified engineers are specifically engaged in carrying out this development at our plants. The company looks forward with confidence to achieving the transition in an organised and smooth manner.

GAIL (India), BC Tripathi, Chairman & MD (CMD)
GAIL has re-negotiated a 20-year long-term LNG Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Russia’s Gazprom Marketing and Trading Singapore. The deal was signed in 2012 to procure 2.5 million tonnes annually, and the supplies are expected to start in the second quarter of 2018.
On the agreement, Tripathi says, “This deal is a step for GAIL to diversify LNG portfolio by spreading price reference indices across multiple geographies so as to provide consumers greater flexibility in service.”
In another achievement, GAIL recently commissioned India’s second largest rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant at its Petrochemical Complex at Pata in Uttar Pradesh. The 5.76 mega watt peak (MWp) solar plant is spread over the roofs of warehouses, and covers a total roof area of 65,000m2. Given the expected plant load factor of around 15% annually, over 79 lakh KWh of electricity is targeted to be generated for captive use of India’s largest gas-based petrochemicals plant. This captive solar photovoltaic initiative by GAIL shall help India achieve climate goals under COP21. GAIL’s solar rooftop project is also a step forward under Make in India, with Indian vendors entrusted for manufacture, supply and execution.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), T Suvarna Raju, Chairman & MD (CMD)
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) very recently carried out the first flight of Light Combat Helicopter (Technology Demonstrator-2) with an in-house developed Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) for the first time in India. The maiden flight was faultless and flew for about 20 minutes with the engagement of the system throughout.
“The development of indigenous AFCS is a HAL-funded project, and will replace the high-value imported system,” says Raju. The AFCS is a digital four-axis flight control system, which is capable of performing the control & stability augmentation function and auto-pilot modes of helicopters. Raju points out that the indigenous development of the hardware, software and control law is a fully in-house effort by HAL R&D centres – RWR&DC and MCSRDC at Bengaluru, SLRDC at Hyderabad and the Korwa Division.
In addition, with the Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) approving the transfer of an industrial plot to HAL, Helicopter Engines MRO (HE-MRO), the joint venture formed between French aerospace firm Safran Helicopter Engines and HAL will go on to set up the necessary infrastructure at the plant in Honda, according to Raju.
HAL and Safran Helicopter Engines will each invest Rs 21.25 crore during the initial stage in order to start the maintenance and repair facility, given that each firm has a 50:50 stake in the joint venture.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL), Sanjiv Singh, Chairman

Indian Oil Corporation has successfully commissioned Octamax Unit at its Mathura refinery by using state-of-the-art refining technologies developed by its own R&D centre. IOCL’s modern technology converts C-4 streams from catalytic cracker and/or Naphtha cracker units to high-octane gasoline (petrol) blending stream which complies with stringent fuel quality norms. The technology once again showcases the technical prowess of IndianOil in meeting the BS-VI fuel quality norms through indigenous efforts.
In another news, the Andhra Pradesh Government permitted IOCL to lay an underground pipeline and Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) duct for transporting petrol, diesel, aviation turbine fuel and kerosene from Paradip refinery in Odisha to its depots at Berhampur, Visakhapatnam, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Hyderabad by crossing the Polavaram left main canal, Thota Venkatachalam Pushkara lift irrigation scheme and Surampalem reservoir at various locations.
IOCL is resuming operations at its polyethylene (PE) plants at Panipat in northern India. The plants are likely to be brought on-stream following a maintenance turnaround in mid-August 2017. Located at Panipat in the northern Indian state of Haryana, the PE plant comprising of high density polyethylene (HDPE) line with a production capacity of 300,000 mt/year and HDPE/linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) swing line with a production capacity of 175,000 mt/year.
IOCL has reported near doubling of third quarter net profit to Rs 7,883 crore on back of higher refining margins and inventory gains.

Jaguar Land Rover, Rohit Suri, President & MD
Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover is ready with electric vehicles (EV) in its global portfolio but bringing them to India will depend on the EV policy. The company will wait for wider availability of BS-VI fuel in India before rushing them to launch vehicles complying with the stricter emission norm.
India is looking at 100% EV for public transport and 40% of personal vehicles by 2030.
Last month, it launched the 2018 version of its Range Rover Evoque Landmark Edition in India priced at Rs 50.20 lakh. The vehicle is powered by a 2-litre Ingenium diesel engine. It has features such as WiFi hotspot, keyless entry and powered gesture tailgate as standard on all variants.
It also launched the new Velar, a road-focused SUV in India. On offer are three engine options – a 179hp, 2.0-litre diesel, a 250hp, 2.0-litre petrol and a 300hp, 3.0-litre V6 diesel motor. The former two come in eight trims, while the latter comes in nine variants.
With 3,954 units sold during this period, Jaguar Land Rover India reported a sterling performance, buoyed by a new and competitively priced model range, world-class retailer footprint and enhanced service and brand experience programmes for consumers. Contribution to this growth came from almost all model lines of Jaguar Land Rover, starting with the XE, followed by the XF, F-PACE, Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque.

JCB India, Vipin Sondhi, MD and CEO
The Indian Construction Equipment (ICE) industry, after a four year downturn from 2012-13, has revived to earlier levels in 2016-17, and this growth has been primarily driven by the roads and highways sector.
In keeping with this, 2017 was a positive year for JCB India as they crossed their previous best high of 2011.
Announcement and implementation of big ticket infrastructure projects led to a favourable increase in the demand of large scale machinery, particularly in the road construction sector. To fully leverage this opportunity, JCB introduced a wide range of innovative and intelligent road construction machines.
“We are hopeful that 2018 will be an exciting year for the ICE industry as the Government has announced many large-scale infrastructure projects such as Sagarmala, Bharatmala, Jal Marg Vikas, Smart Cities and AMRUT housing, which, once implemented, will create a demand for construction equipment. Additionally, expressways, diamond quadrilateral, dedicated fleet corridors and river linkages have also been mobilised across the country. Thus, we seem to be well set to accelerate and leverage the opportunities available today,” states Sondhi.

Magneti Marelli Talbros Chassis Systems, Ashish Gupta, CEO
Automotive companies have it the toughest. They are constantly required to innovate and R&D is one of their strongest forte. There is a constant requirement to invest in new technologies so that demands of OEMs can be met. Moreover, one of the regular demands from OEMs pertains to weight and emission reduction. Auto components companies can achieve their targets only when OEMs find that the Tier-I is innovating and investing. The Tier-I companies are serious about investing in technology and there are regular innovations coming from them, each time an OEM announces plans to launch a new model.
As an auto component player, Magneti Marelli Talbros garners much insight into the industry when the company hears success stories. Innovations executed in other places also offer perspective to the team. Magneti Marelli Talbros Systems takes prompt action when it sees opportunities in the market in terms of innovations and technology.
In the chassis business, the company works on two aspects. One is weight reduction, which is the topmost target, while the other is ensuring passenger comfort or safety. The company spends it time trying to innovate and offer solutions keeping these things in mind. Then there is the cost. Tier-I companies are required to work within a budget and offer better value engineered products.

Motherson Sumi systems (MSSL), VC Sehgal, Chairman
There’s no stopping VC Sehgal who is known to globe-trot to numerous destinations around the world seeking lucrative deals that will help him expand his portfolio. Last month, Samvardhana Motherson International (SMIL), the promoter group entity of auto component maker Motherson Sumi Systems (MSSL), acquired 100% stake in MS Global India (MSGI) from Korea based MS Group.
In another big news, MSSL, the flagship company of the $9.5 billion Samvardhana Motherson Group, is planning to invest around Rs 15-18 billion and will also set up new facilities near Chennai. The company is on the last leg of completing its Rs 20 billion capex for the current fiscal and during 2018-19, the company is planning to invest around Rs 15-18 billion. In order to derisk the business, MSS has chalked out a 3CX10 strategy, under which no single customer, country or component would make up more than 10% of the company’s total turnover in 2020, against 15% currently.
Today, MSS is present in 27 countries and hopes to have a footprint in 60 within the next five years. The company’s initiatives in evolving new solutions for its customers were largely met through its acquisitions.
MSS is also working closely with customers to make sure that they are ready for whatever disruption occurs such as electric vehicles. PKC Group’s acquisition has helped the company to be “EV ready”.

ONGC, Shashi Shanker, Chairman

Last month, ONGC created news when it announced that has bought the government’s entire 51.11% stake in oil refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) for Rs 36,915 crore. Through this acquisition, ONGC becomes India’s first vertically integrated ‘oil major’ company, having presence across the entire value chain. The integrated entity will have advantage of having enhanced capacity to bear higher risks and take higher investment decisions etc.
Consolidation of all the downstream units of state-run explorer ONGC under HPCL post the merger of the two companies will help streamline operations and bring efficiencies.
In another news, state-owned ONGC, after a gap of over three-decades, is set to open a new sedimentary basin in the country as it puts Kutch offshore on the oil and gas map of India. Kutch would be India’s eighth sedimentary basin. ONGC had previously opened for commercial production six out of India’s seven producing basins. Cauvery was the last Category-I producing basin which was discovered in 1985.
Early this month, ONGC organised the first oil & gas field crisis management workshop for Indian E&P industry at Delhi. The aim of the workshop was to provide a platform for quick response of field crisis and to showcase capabilities to deal with oil field crisis situations. ONGC is the only Indian E&P company having its own Crisis Management Team.

Otis India, Sebi Joseph, President

“Customer satisfaction motivates us to invest in developing new innovative products and technology. Our engineers are working to develop the next generation of elevators. This new generation will for the first time connect manufacturing to installation to service,” says Joseph.
Otis is transforming its service business – globally – to incorporate smart, connected technology that delivers proactive, quick and effective diagnostics and repairs. The transformation is an investment in digital tools, mobility solutions, apps, IoT and operational excellence to enhance customer experience and accelerate business productivity.
Otis has developed and is accelerating efforts to expand the use of service apps being developed by field teams. These new tools enable field employees to be more efficient, source information faster, develop even stronger ties with the customer and see a problem before it becomes one. Through IoT and more connectivity, Otis is giving customers more transparency, more information and a streamlined faster process to reach Otis, while maintaining and advancing the personal relationship they strive for. With this, they are also working on making their service delivery faster and more convenient.

Panasonic India, Manish Sharma, President & CEO, Panasonic India & South Asia; Vice President, Appliances Company; and Executive Officer, Panasonic Corporation
Panasonic in India is on a growth trajectory with a revenue target of Rs 11,000 crore in FY 17-18. The company is in the process of shifting its focus from being a hardware to a solutions-based company.
In line with this strategy, the enterprise business will be a key focus area for 2018, while they are also aiming to maximise revenues from B2B in the next five years. Meanwhile, the appliances business comprising of ACs, TVs, washing machines, microwave ovens etc. continues to be the leading contributor to business revenues, even as they continue to offer innovation through their smartphones range.
Strategically, Panasonic India is focusing significantly on R&D to develop India as the hub for innovation for the corporation. Aligned with new-age technologies such as IoT, AI and robotics, Panasonic has established an R&D centre in collaboration with Tata ELXSI, and an Indian Innovation Centre (IIC) in association with TCS, both in Bengaluru. “This fiscal year, we launched two AI-based smartphones, powered with an AI assistant called Arbo,” declares Sharma.
As far as his role as the head of the company goes, Sharma is of the opinion that, “In this dynamically evolving environment, a leader must adapt and learn with new-age technologies and the new-age consumers.” He believes that a CEO should not only be well-equipped to understand the technology at hand, but must take a rational decision if the tech-offering is the right fit for the organisation.

Rolls-Royce, Kishore Jayaraman, President, India & South Asia
As a leading industrial technology company, Rolls-Royce will focus on technology to win and influence the market in the year 2018.
“We will deliver early stages of our electrical strategy and demonstrate product and system capabilities,” says Jayaraman.
Additionally, Rolls-Royce has been focussing on accelerating their digital-first strategy. The aerospace major is following a defined method to achieve this. Their three-strand digital strategy (perfect digital twin, accelerate & amplify data innovation and digital first) transforms the way they have been operating to deliver and unlock more value at a faster pace for customers.
What this means is that they will grow their data innovation capabilities, enabled by tangible value improvements in their product, production and performance digital twins.
“Continuous learning is a requirement now, as you face new challenges and opportunities, and it cannot be done solely in a classroom. I am a firm believer in having a growth mindset – it’s important to remind yourself that it’s alright to fail if you learn from your failures,” Jayaraman proclaims.
When asked about some of the new learnings that he is gathering as head of the organisation, Jayaraman is clear in his reply. There are many ways to learn new skills and strategies for managing and leading your team and the most common way is reading, he states, adding that whether it’s great blogs or books, the written word is a powerful way to convey the lessons and insights crucial to leadership.

RPG Life Sciences, CT Renganathan, Managing Director
“At RPG Lifesciences, we continue to invest in developing our product pipeline across domestic and international markets. In the domestic market, we will be looking to consolidate our existing product portfolio to capitalise for the next leg of growth while in the international markets we will look to expand across geographies, with a focus on the US market,” says Renganathan.
Over the last few years, the company has also invested in technology to advance its sales force automation, communication as well as manufacturing quality control systems. RPG Life Sciences continues to invest in developing its people and R&D processes, which is the bulwark of its existence.
In terms of products, the company plans to look into strengthening its implementation of certain products for which it is seeking to establish its brand presence in the respective segments.
For instance, in the domestic market, Renganathan says the company will develop its brand presence in Nephrology segment, which is a specialty area where its aims to progress as a total care company.
In an industry which is growing at a steady pace, RPG Life Sciences believes its ability to implement strategies to drive results is critical given the competitive environment in which the pharma sector functions.

Steel Authority of india (SAIL), Prakash Kumar Singh, Chairman
Buoyed by a recent order that it has won in Japan, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) is aiming to increase exports to the country as well as to Korea. The steelmaker has now widened its product portfolio to export finished steel.
This is in tune with SAIL’s new marketing policy which aims at increasing its footprint in overseas markets. Recently, SAIL received an order for supplying 5,000 tonnes of wire rods for Japan’s Funabashi port. The material will be used for meshing and other purposes. Alongside, SAIL is also exploring the Korean market. It has already won an order for HR coils to Vietnam.
The firm exported about five lakh tonnes of steel between April and November 2017 valued at ₹1,400 crore. This marks a 16% growth in value. Traditionally, SAIL has been exporting semi-finished steel such as billets and slabs and also some finished steel products such as plates and HR coils. Destinations include the SAARC countries, Europe and some southeast Asian countries.
Of late, India’s largest steel producer has expanded its export product basket to include blooms, CR coils, wire rods, TMT and structurals. The Japanese order is being serviced from SAIL’s IISCO steel plant.

SKF India, Shishir Joshipura, MD and Country Head
“With the government’s push towards Smart Manufacturing, we are all entering a world that is more connected, nimble and responsive. There will be a paradigm shift in the way we do business in the near future. With Big Data, IoT and Industry 4.0, we will all need to understand the needs of our customers better, internalise these requirements,and provide the most appropriate solution that is not just beneficial to the customer, but is also sustainable,” says Joshipura.
As far as SKF is concerned, the company is committed to providing industry leading automotive and industrial engineered solutions through its five technology driven platforms – bearings and units, seals, mechatronics, lubrication and services. For SKF, innovation will be a major driver for growth. Of course, to innovate, they will leverage their global competencies in R&D and work collaboratively between teams that have the people expertise.
“It is this expertise that allows us to introduce product-level innovations for local markets. To sum it up, innovation, technology, manpower and R&D are all interlinked for organisational success. The organisation needs to have all these strengths working in tandem for a better understanding of the customer’s needs and industry trends,” he adds.
Personally, he believes in remaining a student for life. “One can learn from anyone. Today’s connected world offers these opportunities aplenty. The online world lets you learn across geographies and across businesses at your own pace and convenience,” he points out.

Tata Advanced Materials, SR Mukherjee, CEO
In 2017, the biggest incentive for TAML is to invest on capital equipment and skill building since the aerospace & defence industry has seen growth in India. However, the main challenge was to encourage skill building for the employees so that the company could see a ramp up in volumes and also consider various new products. This was in addition to the cost reduction initiatives that customers were looking for to make their supply chain more competitive and pass on benefits to the OEMs.
Going forward in 2018, the main thrust will continue to be towards making TAML leaner and more competitive and building up skills towards newer technologies. “In addition, implementing digital initiatives on the shop floor towards automated processes in planning, scheduling and monitoring will help us drive down costs by improving efficiencies. We have implemented Automated Planning and Scheduling software across various programmes in our shop which is showing results in meeting customer delivery schedules,” says Mukherjee.
The company has already started lean implementation in its shop floor through value stream mapping, identifying wastes and paring costs. It wants to act more on these techniques and implement them through dedicated teams. Motivation and retaining the talent pool will be another key initiative. The aerospace industry is looking for shorter time frame to deliver results and this will help agile companies to grow faster in this domain.

Volkswagen India, Dr Andreas Lauermann, President & Managing Director
The Indian automotive industry is well positioned for growth, servicing both domestic demand and export opportunities. Similarly, the Indian market is on its way to become one of the largest automotive markets in the world in a few years.
A predicted increase in India’s working-age population is likely to help stimulate the burgeoning market for private vehicles. Rising prosperity, easier access to finance and increasing affordability is expected to see automobiles gaining volumes.
Volkswagen has a long-term commitment to India with investments over 825 million Euros in its Pune plant alone. The Volkswagen Group is investigating options for the future, in terms of updated and new products and an increased production capacity for these products if need be.
“We have always been an early adopter of technology. Demand for tech talent to lead innovation and operational work will rise in the years to come and we are already preparing ourselves for this. Our focus would be to further increase levels of localisation and continue developing local engineering capabilities for the future,” says Dr Lauermann.
TED Talks is one of the most influential social platforms times. The varied stories across segments have the ability to open our minds to perspectives of looking at issues and solutions which will hold us in good stead when we strive to inspire troops. Moreover, innovation is something VW focuses deeply on. And the TED Talks drives the innovative thinking deeper.

Walchandnagar Industries, GK Pillai, MD & CEO
“The underlying theme for 2018 is going to be consolidation and setting up a base for future years. In my view, this is a common theme for most of India’s manufacturing sector,” states Pillai. From the standpoint of the heavy engineering sector, he feels that it is the right time to invest in building capable human resources – both at the managerial and operative level. Optimal Capital Expenditure in right businesses, which will see growth in the years ahead, is also being thought of. He sees growth happening in the defence, aerospace and nuclear power sectors in the years ahead, and therefore would like to build the above mentioned strengths in these areas in 2018.
Some key learnings at the leadership level for the heavy engineering sector include a focus on profitable growth rather than pure topline growth; being very selective about commoditised businesses; developing and strengthening internal core competencies (relying less on subcontracting); investing in protecting the organisation from disruptive technological trends such as composite materials, additive manufacturing, etc.; and working towards flatter and leaner organisations – with disproportionate compensation linked to performance.


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