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The 4th Manufacturing Today Awards honoured those who dared to change the rules of the game – and excelled.

BY MITALEE KURDEKAR

 

It’s hard to fathom that anything to do with the manufacturing industry can be remotely exciting. We, at Manufacturing Today and ITP Publishing India as a group, believe otherwise. After all, behind the technology and the machines, there are men and women taking charge, bringing about change and making a visible difference to Indian industry. The 4th Annual Manufacturing Today Conference & Awards, held on September 11, 2015, in Pune, celebrated their contribution!
Drawing inspiration from the galloping growth witnessed by the manufacturing industry today and keeping the future in mind, this year’s theme was, very aptly, ‘Celebrating Excellence in Smart & Sustainable Manufacturing’. As always, we created a dual-serving platform. One, we had panel discussions between the industry’s decision makers to deliberate on the current scenario and share ideas for the way ahead. And, of course, the icing on the cake was the recognition given to the very best in the business. Highlighting the importance of this forum, the event was presided over by the Honourable Minister of State for Home Affairs, Government of India, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary.
Of course, the success of the platform was also augmented by the support we received in terms of participation from across the country. We had attendees travelling from all corners of the nation, including Coimbatore, Gurgaon, Vadodara, Bengaluru as well as from small towns in Himachal Pradesh and Odisha. In addition, we had strong partners, with Aditya Birla Group as the Primary Sponsor and Walter Tools and Hewlett-Packard as Associate Sponsors for the event.
The day commenced with an opening address by Rajiv Dube, director, group corporate services, Aditya Birla Group, who spoke extensively about technology trends that are likely to transform the future of manufacturing, where India stands today and the way Indian manufacturing can transcend the gap to get there. Dube said, “Over the past 20 years, India’s share of global manufacturing has grown from 0.9% to 2%, while its GDP share has grown from 1.2% to 2.5%. However, the sector that accounted for 15% of GDP in 1993, remains the same today.” Yet, as Dube pointed out, “India continues to fair well on manufacturing cost competitiveness, amongst the exporting countries. Even though wages have doubled in the last decade, increase in productivity and currency depreciation have offset wage increases. While that advantage needs to be sustained through time, real hard work is required in fixing infrastructure, carrying out labour reforms and enhancing ease of doing business. This is essential for attracting both FDI and domestic capital investment. For India’s manufacturing aspirations to be met, and for it to be connected to the world competitively, it is imperative that the micro, small and medium sectors gain also from the technological advances that are going to shape the world of tomorrow.”

And what better way to discuss the shaping of tomorrow than through our CEO panel discussion. The roundtable dialogue highlighted ‘CEO vision and strategy towards building the right ecosystem for smart and sustainable manufacturing’. The panel was chaired by Ravind Mithe, partner, KPMG Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd. The panellists included: Rajiv Dube; Ian Smith, MD, SK Sourcing & Management Pvt. Ltd; GK Pillai, MD & CEO, Walchandnagar Industries Ltd; SM Vaidya, EVP & business head, Godrej Aerospace; and SR Mukherjee, CEO, Tata Advanced Materials Ltd.
Mithe decided to connect the discussion to the Indian scenario, stressing on a need to develop the most appropriate model(s) for smart and sustainable manufacturing that apply here. He succinctly defined the subject saying, “Smart manufacturing is basically about assets and products talking to each other, so that overall cycle times come down, defects come down and quality improves; and it requires minimum, supervisory intervention from the engineers, leaving them to do more value-adding jobs.” He then stressed on the need for an intelligent merger of sustainability with profitability, saying that elements like people, planet and profit have to be balanced well.
By asking if India is in fact ready for smart and sustainable manufacturing processes, Pillai raised an important point. He stated, quite emphatically, that we are not in fact prepared for this change. “The Indian industry is more involved in job creation. The Prime Minister’s talk about ‘Make in India’ comes to mind. We need to bring technology, bring employment and bring manufacturing facilities in India to develop the country internally.” He added that today, no young engineers are ready to go into manufacturing companies, yet conceded that if smart manufacturing is brought in, they would definitely be attracted to the sector.
Smith had an uncomplicated take on the matter, saying that, “When I was growing up, smart manufacturing was when a company had a product, they sold it and made a profit. Nowadays, that’s all changed. The richest companies don’t own anything, they have no money and they don’t make a profit. So something has changed very quickly, in my life span.” He believes that India has the option of jumping ahead to the latest technology, adopting it from other countries and ‘Indianising’ it to our needs, rather than inventing it ourselves. Using the example of telephones, he pointed out that a large section of India’s population has leaped from never having a phone to getting a smartphone, without the intermediate step of owning a landline. At the same time, Smith elaborated on sustainability, stating that electronic gadgets that are ditched for their latest models pose a huge opportunity for recycling, as they include some rare earth metals.
When asked about how well-established companies approach this transition, Dube remarked, “The older you are, the more you find that there is a legacy that weighs on you, so the transition is difficult to make. But the good news is that everybody in today’s interconnected world is aware that unless the transition happens, the current business model will not survive.” He remarked that Indian engineers have comfortably adapted to using foreign technology in car plants like Hyundai or Honda, and that is one reason why India is one of the largest exporters of cars in the small category today.
Mukherjee added to that thought, saying that the way to get people to adapt to change is to make it more attractive to them, so as to reduce challenges. “We still have quality issues, where the drawing control system has not been followed correctly. The supplier has some version of the drawing that has not been updated and that creates a huge amount of rejection and rework,” he said. At the same time, Vaidya gave a unique suggestion for implementing reform, when he spoke about his experience of having the changes percolate down to the homes and families of his employees: “If you do what you do at work, at home as well, it has a lasting impact on your mind.” This approach, he claimed, would make any reforms more sustainable.

Apart from the panel discussions, there were presentations by our partners, which highlighted the smart and sustainable manufacturing theme in a number of ways. Manas Majumder, GM, integrated marketing and sales key account, Walter Tools India Pvt. Ltd, said, “Smart manufacturing should start with smart marketing and smart investment.” When it comes to actual production, he hinted that digitisation was leading the way to the future. “Features of manufacturing platforms like easy accessibility and rapid change in modelling and simulation will be a game changer,” he advised. Manish Sood, country category manager, Hewlett-Packard, remarked that although ‘Make in India’ is a reality, we are still faced with a choice between ‘making in India for India’ and ‘making in India for the world’. “That choice brings in two issues, acquiring technology and bringing in efficiency in all the processes that entail our business.”
Bhavani Pani, head, Span Resources Management Services, enthralled the audience with his vivid anecdotes when he emphasised the role of world class manufacturing. “The diamond industry was one of the first in India to gain global acceptance as world class manufacturers. The Chinese went in for micro-electronics manufacturing because they have an inherent skill of dexterity of hand. My appeal to this august audience is that if you want to develop world class manufacturing, go and understand your people first. Technologies can be bought; your people will give you the strength to fight in the world and become world class.” Protyush Debnath, manager, strategic marketing, Walter Tools India, spoke about how engineering was a core part of manufacturing, making it imperative to achieve competence in engineering.

Our second panel discusion focussed on ‘Optimisation in operational excellence and shop floor efficiencies’. Dr Wilfried Aulbur, managing partner, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, moderated the discussion, with the following panel members: Shrikant Savangikar, director, business excellence quality & sustainability, SKF India Ltd; Girish Parundekar, GM, manufacturing engineering, manufacturing division, Blue Star Ltd; Gangadhar R Gubbi, director, Forbes Marshall; Umesh Shah, COO, commercial vehicle and railway business unit, Gabriel India Ltd; Aditya K Shrivastava, SVP/head of manufacturing operations, VE Commercial Vehicles Ltd; and Arindam Chakrabarti, head, industrial and site logistics services, DIESL.
Speaking on the challenges faced across the value chain, Gubbi remarked, “Right from sourcing to reaching the customers, we have challenges at every stage.” Dr Aulbur opined, “If you look at a global comparison, India is a challenging country, period. The positive is that many Indian players are world class. But it is necessary to create an ecosystem. If we want to be proud of ‘Made in India’, it is not enough that a Bajaj has a culture that is driven by TPM or that a Bharat Forge delivers crankshafts to Mercedes Benz. It is important that as a community, as an industry, we are able to move towards world class manufacturing.”
Savangikar added: “The concept of economies of scale is gone. You cannot achieve economy by producing too much. You have to produce exactly what is required by the market. After 2008, we find that the market can go up and down and the manufacturing has to be flexibly responsive to that.”
Parundekar stressed on the need for process innovation and technology. “If the basic rules of 5S, followed by TPM, Lean and Six Sigma are followed step-by-step and not all at once, we will ultimately find success.” However, Shrivastava pointed out that not all management theories are proving right today and even if they are flexible as a company, their suppliers aren’t always ready for swift changes. Shah spoke about filling the knowledge gap, saying, “Too many whys slow down the system. Instead if you can explain to an operator why a task or an element of his work is important, that would help improve efficiency.”
Chakrabarti offered a logistics viewpoint, saying, “The value addition for any product happens at very small increments in time. At other times, the material is lying idle for want of decisions, or being stored somewhere or being moved somewhere. One way of increasing efficiency is to reduce the total time taken from the raw material to the end product, that is increase velocity of the product or service that you want to deliver to customers.”

Post this insightful conversation, we reached our final panel discussion on ‘Enabling excellence in smart and sustainable manufacturing through use of information and automation technology’. Manish Kulkarni, director, strategic initiatives, BDB India Pvt. Ltd headed this panel. The panel consisted of: Dr Dhananjay Kumar, MD (electric vehicle) & director, business development, Thor Power Corporation; Shrikant S Bairagi, MD, India, TREMEC; Keyur Desai, VP, IT, Essar; Viren Joshi, CEO & president, Sigma Electric Manufacturing Corporation Pvt. Ltd; Hiraman Aher, VP, manufacturing operations (Nasik & Igatpuri), Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd; and Dhirendra Khurana, country category head, laser enterprise systems, printing & personal systems group, Hewlett-Packard.
Bairagi summarised the subject, saying, “For things to be smart, as with Internet of Things (IoT), they have to talk to each other. For example, machine-to-machine, they can send data and that can be analysed and then a certain action can be taken.” Khurana pointed out that, as a result of this, “There is a huge amount of data generation, leading to more prints. We are therefore helping organisations move from managing documents to managing content.” He suggested the use of individual devices for employees that can be connected to the equipments in a plant for integration of systems.
Joshi used the term ‘DRIP’ to describe organisations today, which are data rich, but information poor. “I’ve got a lovely ERP system; I’m sure you all do. But how much of that data is available to us real time, where you can use it to moderate and ensure that you have the right output, the right quality, the right delivery and, also, safety becomes an important factor. I’ve seen one of the best process plants in India, with wonderful data analytics and real time display. We need to emulate that in future,” he stated. We can take the opportunity we have and create a very robust digital factory, by working with IoT and IoE, to achieve almost 30% cost saving, he declared. Dr Kumar candidly offered, “Machines have been created by man, but we are competing with these machines today, leading to insecurities. The moment we make machines smarter, they do not require manual interventions.”
Aher came into the discussion, stating, “In automobiles, it is very difficult to visualise the customer demand as opposed to capacity. So we decided to have our own integrated production management system. We implemented one in-house, at one-hundredth of the cost indicated by outsiders. This is an example of what our own people can do.” Desai felt, “When we come from a typical manufacturing organisation, IT is not the bread and butter; it is given the least priority. So the challenge starts from there. In our case, fortunately, the senior management had a desire to ensure that automation was a part of the overall IT journey.” Kulkarni touched on the future of manufacturing by bringing up 3D printing and finally concluded, saying, “The smart shop floor would make us integrated, informed and, most importantly, intelligent.”
Post the discussions, the Honourable Minister addressed the audience. He gave a moving speech, during which he said, “I recently visited Bajaj Auto and Force Motors Ltd and saw their research and development units, and I can say that India’s industrialists can stand any competition from the world today. We have to take advantage of the recent recession in China by joining hands and focusing on ‘Make in India’.”
It was then time for the highlight of the evening, the grand awards ceremony. After a robust nominations process that received 350-plus entries, which were vetted by our esteemed 14-member jury, the wait was finally over for the nominees. When the awards were announced, the winners were cheered on by the audience, consisting of both colleagues and competitors alike, who were seen applauding the perseverance and outstanding performance of our deserving winners. It is noteworthy that the greatest takeaway from the event was this camaraderie, which was amply mirrored in the beaming smiles on the faces of the award winners!

 

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