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“Being exposed to globalisation, customers, today, are focussed on high-quality products and attention to detail”
- Sudhir Mehta

Management | Interview “Changing manual production to automation”

Jan 3, 2017

…says Sudhir Mehta, Director, VDL Pinnacle Engineering & Chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Western Region, in this interaction with Megha Roy. He discusses how the joint venture of Pinnacle Industries & VDL Groep will help to provide optimum automation solutions to the industry. Excerpts…

How is Pinnacle Industries managing to achieve engineering excellence with the help of advanced technologies?

Technology is in a continuous state of advancement and aims towards improvement in quality, productivity, health & safety and lowering of cost by the efficient production processes. Since its inception, Pinnacle Industries has continuously invested in technology partnerships, latest manufacturing systems and skill upgradation of our engineers. The results of these efforts are evident. Today, we are the largest commercial vehicle seating company in India and we continue to grow at a rapid pace.

How do you see the demand for production automation in automotive industry in the current scenario?

The automotive industry in India has almost all the global OEMs having a manufacturing set up in India over and above the Indian OEMs, which are also becoming global. Not only do these companies sell in India in a very competitive market, but also export from India, as they find it very economical to produce in India. The focus is heavily on consistently high quality, which is achievable only through automation of production, thereby, eliminating the human error factor in the production processes. The scope for automation will continue to increase further as the market expands and the production requirements gear up to keep pace.

Pinnacle Industries and VDL Group of Netherlands have announced the establishment of VDL Pinnacle Engineering India, recently. Can you brief us more on this joint venture? How will this optimise the degree of automation in the Indian automotive industry?

Pinnacle Industries has a long experience in the Indian automotive industry. The VDL Groep is a diversified conglomerate and has been providing automation solutions to the auto industry for the past 50 years. This technical expertise of VDL and the knowledge of the Indian industries of Pinnacle is the ideal combination to provide optimum solutions to companies operating in India to satisfy their stated and implied expectations from our products. Knowledge of the customers’ mindset will play a very big role in achieving success for the joint venture.

Who are your partners? Can you provide us more details?

The VDL Groep has 89 companies, operating in diversified fields. As a start, we are partnering with VDL Steelweld, for production automation solutions, primarily for automotive industries and with VDL bus & coach for product design of commercial vehicles. We expect much more collaboration with the various divisions of VDL in the future.

What would be your expectations from the industrial automation solution providers? What kind of partnership do you have with them?

As VDL Pinnacle Engineering, we, ourselves will be providers of production automation to the industry and would like to provide the most suitable or optimum automation solutions to the industry, which will satisfy the customer expectations from our products at the minimum possible investment.

How are you planning to drive the growth of your company in India?

We believe that achieving high levels of customer satisfaction is the way to growth. We intend to accomplish our goals by giving our customers’ real ‘value for money’ solutions. Further, instead of having a supplier-customer relationship, we would like to be partners in their growth. An example of this would be that we will be continuously keeping our customers informed about the latest technical developments taking place worldwide, so that they will be able to take advantage of the best technologies available, either for cost reduction or quality improvement or productivity improvement, and so on. Being exposed to globalisation, customers, today, are focussed on high-quality products and attention to detail. Our competitors are global companies from countries, where vehicle production is more than a century old business, and technology development is at the forefront. To be able to not only survive, but also grow in these conditions requires that we give our customers the best quality consistently at the best possible price. Consistency in quality is achieved through automation, which eliminates the human error factor in production. Further, since machines do not get ‘tired’ or ‘fatigued’ while doing the repetitive production processes, the efficiency and, hence, the productivity is higher than manual production processes. A consequence of the increased efficiency is a reduction in the final product cost.

How do you plan to strategise your management mantras aligning with the Indian market dynamics?

At Pinnacle Industries, we are continuously investing to change the manual production processes to automated ones to meet the expectations of our customers. It is because of this that we are able to grow despite of the stiff competition. Growth would be very difficult if we do not adopt the new production automation technologies. This does not mean, however, that we are reducing our manpower. Instead of doing repetitive manual jobs, we are upgrading their skills, so that they are able to manage the machines, which, thereby, manage the production. ☐

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