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PRODUCTION OPTOMISATION Collaborative approach for success

Jan 9, 2019

It is being increasingly recognised within the manufacturing sector that there has been a shift towards collaborative partnerships in order to enable organisations to remain at the forefront of their industry. The Viewpoint section finds out what is leading to these collaborations and how manufacturers of various sectors can work together to combine their expertise for a collaborative success.

“Collaboration creates value” - T K Ramesh, Managing Director & CEO Micromatic Machine Tools

The push for collaboration comes from the customer, who is looking for a solution and the solution is a combination of several things. For example, my company is a machine tool manufacturer. But, the machine that my customers use to make the parts they need, fulfil only 35-40% of their requirements; it also requires tools, coolants, training, people, etc. The combination of all these will ultimately give the customers their output, quality and hence, determine their cost. The competitiveness of a company is determined by how quickly it can put these requirements together internally. The end-customer is looking for better realisation across the chain, which leads to more collaborative models.

For companies to combine expertise seamlessly, people need to have a partnership approach rather than a vendor-supplier approach. For this, there needs to be a good amount of transparency to share information openly with those involved. Collaboration creates value and one needs to see how this value can be shared across the chain. There are certain IT issues that need to be in place and security issues, where the question arises on how data can be guarded and ensure that the combined value is not misused or abused. When it comes to collaboration between universities and companies, institutes must have an industry interface body, comprising of their own people, who understand the industry better. The industry should offer the institutes longer internships, guest lectures, and interaction between key industry people and students, which leads to harmony in the understanding of problems.

“Strong IP related laws will help increase collaborative efforts” - Ravishankar S, Consultant in Manufacturing Excellence Domain

Innovation and growth in technology are the main factors that drive collaborative models in manufacturing. Advancements in IT technology vastly help in collaborative approach, as the communication amongst partners gets easier. The process of manufacturing needs interface with several elements, and each of these elements has multiple alternates, driving the whole manufacturing process to become more complex. This complex situation has led to collaboration amongst the suppliers of interdependent requirements. The complexity further multiplies when the production has to be deployed at multiple locations, crossing geographical boundaries. So communication and adaption through training are the major focus points that need to be addressed for successful collaborative manufacturing.

Market maturity helps collaboration amongst interdependent companies. Strong IP related laws and implementation will help to increase these collaborative efforts. The legal process in India is lengthy and time consuming. Hence, dispute resolution affects the performance of the companies. Though arbitration process, as an alternate for dispute resolution, is gaining grounds, it is yet to root into the system.

“We need to teach our youth the art of giving” - Sudhir Gurtoo, Managing Director Leadec India

The most important driving factors are a company’s vision aligned to collaborative growth and top management’s attitude. If these two are dominantly existent in a firm, collaborative results will simply roll. However, a risk exists in the current patenting world, especially if product is collaboratively developed by few parties.

Plus, with technology advancing faster than ever before, OEMs need to first assess their weak spots. Then they need to scan the horizon for someone who is strong for these weak areas. They must be convinced how a tie-up will help improve products and services for both mutually. For those companies, who are deferring this action, the future could end up as bleak. Better products and services will constantly take birth and slowly overtake others. Moreover, there being a gap between joint R&D projects involving universities and companies in India, our focus in the country is unusually high on delivering urgent cost savings. We need to teach our youth the art of giving and to develop a long-term vision.

“Collaborative approach helps to have an integrated solution” - Ninad Deshpande, Head - Marketing B&R Industrial Automation

A need for an end-to-end and integrated solution for factories is driving machine builder and thus, automation vendors for collaborating on various topics. Collaborative approach is helping the manufacturing industry to have an integrated solution as well as achieve interoperable systems. This reduces their dependence on a single vendor. It is essential that the collaborations use open platforms and standardised solutions, else instead of depending on a single vendor, the manufacturing units would now be dependent on those companies collaborating on providing the solutions. A standardised approach by vendors will enable manufacturing units to be in control of their systems.

When it comes to joint R&D projects involving universities and companies, many institutes only focus on the prescribed syllabus, which has not been updated in a long time. Thus, what is learnt in college, the technologies available in the market and the actual work on field, have a stark difference. Academia has to evaluate new technologies and incorporate them in their syllabus. More weightage needs to be given to practical hands on work over mere theoretical part.

“Customers are more open to a partnership approach” - BC Rao, Managing Director Kennametal India

Organisations need to continously innovate & be in the forefront in leading the change management to improve the competitiveness of their business in this complex VUCA world, pushing a collaborative approach in manufacturing. A competitive edge & a true differentiator of value to targeted customer are becoming very critical to sustain market share. This can be better achieved only through collaborative working, both, within the organisation across domain functions as well as by collaborating with other like-minded, progressive partner companies in related field of value chain. A common goal must be shared to deliver a delightful customer experience. Customers, today, are much more open to this kind of a partnership approach for solutions, with a single point of contact on accountability for end-to-end management.

Besides, collaborative product development with customers utilising all the expertise available among the stake holders in the value chain needs to be well captured & leveraged. This, coupled with shorter product life-cycles, puts pressure on new product launches. Some of the issues of taking total ownership & accountability to deliver the committed value to the customer must be thought through & never compromised. Other aspects to be addressed properly are IPR & technology rights among the group of partners coming together, respecting each other’s space to arrive at a win-win solution, for all with integrity & security of data. The culture of sharing & learning together, while staying focused on the customer, is key to success among partner companies. Also, Governments have initiated several policy initiatives to drive big game changing proposals at leading academic institutes, with financial support. The industry, too, recognises this need and many platforms of engagement between corporates & institutes have started.

Image Gallery

  • T K Ramesh

    T K Ramesh

    Managing Director & CEO

    Micromatic Machine Tools

  • Ravishankar S

    Ravishankar S

    Consultant in Manufacturing

    Excellence Domain

  • Sudhir Gurtoo

    Sudhir Gurtoo

    Managing Director

    Leadec India

  • Ninad Deshpande

    Ninad Deshpande

    Head - Marketing

    B&R Industrial Automation

  • BC Rao

    BC Rao

    Managing Director

    Kennametal India

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