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Dr N Ravichandran,
Chief Mentor,
UCAL Fuel Systems & Retired Executive Director, Lucas-TVS

Cover Story Management “Balance technology, method & people”

Dec 23, 2016

“ What we need is a change in mindset of people leading the manufacturing industries. This requires the leaders to personally get involved and spend time on the shop floors, effective and efficient work process, employee participation in continuous improvement, etc.” Dr N Ravichandran, Chief Mentor, UCAL Fuel Systems & Retired Executive Director, Lucas-TVS

What are the five most essential things, according to you, to make Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? How is the progress in this area? ?

Today, there is a paradigm shift in the very aspect of staging an essential business. Some mindsets include that knowledge is power and not availability of natural resources; customers come first and not shareholders; and that quality is the winning mantra. The key drivers can be grouped under market drivers, cost drivers and government drivers. In this changing scenario, to sustain the existing business and to grow, a new management system is needed that supports companies’ need for growth, innovation, quality, speed and agility. The five essential things in the Indian manufacturing industry to focus are quality, delivery, stability, innovation and partnering with customers.

Can you brief us the various manufacturing principles/tools & production concepts used in your plants?

In Lucas TVS, we started implementing various steps of TPS & Lean. We have used 7 Zero Philsosophy, Zero Delays, Zero Changeovers, Zero Defects, Zero Breakdowns, Zero Inventory, Zero Waste and Zero Injury. This is supported by daily-routine management and continuous improvement teams in the shop floors. Employee engagement schemes like QC circles, suggestion scheme, sunday voluntary work teams, etc have produced remarkable results.

What do you think on the kind of automation or advanced technology strategy that has to be implemented in the shop floor for optimal ROI?

The level of automation directly depends on the level of volume of production vis-à-vis the tact time. If the tact time of the product is less than 10 seconds, companies think of high-order automation. Anything above 10 secs to 1 min, combination of automating the process and manual transfer are considered with lot of Low Cost Automations (LCA) in the line. In this case, multi-process handling is used instead of one person operating one machine or one process. This is done by Load Switch Walk (LSW) lines, built with Jidoka, Poke Yoke,
online checking and alerts. If the tact time is quite large, people resort to man-machine lines. We need to optimally balance technology, methodology and peoplelogy. We cannot copy and bring in completely automated lines and loose flexibility. What we need is automating the process, so that quality levels and cycle times are stable.

What, according to you, are the major challenges faced in today’s shop floors? What would be your recommendations for them?

The challenges include frequently changing management teams as people move from one company to another frequently; consistency in vision and direction of management; difficulties in getting people to work in manufacturing areas as service sectors offer a better work place and remuneration. Also, to significantly elevate levels of shop floors and attract people to manufacturing industry, a clean, environmental-friendly and climate for creativity is essential to create a knowledgeable work place. We need to create a culture where everyone is the owner of the plant and not an employee of the organisation.

How will advance technology concepts boost the productivity and growth in manufacturing industries?

We need to adopt the best practices from Industry 4.0 and create a frugal manufacturing system for each company that suits its products, processes and people. What we need is a change in mindset of people leading the manufacturing industries. This requires the leaders to personally get involved and spend time on the shop floors; effective and efficient work process; employee participation in continuous improvement; providing a culture with build – sustain – grow concept and continuously be a learning organisation. Many Indian manufacturing organisations are on a big journey and many companies have started initiating the transformation journey.☐

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