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Dr Andreas Wolf,
Executive Vice President – Manufacturing Quality,
Bosch India

Interview Leadership on the shop floor is a challenge

Dec 1, 2016

The Indian manufacturing industry needs to focus on disruptive quality improvements. This needs a change of mindset and robust design with systematic problemsolving methods. Smart automation, lean methods and even robotics need to be adopted.

What are the five most essential things that will make Indian manufacturing industry globally competitive? What is the current status in this area?

The industry share in India is at around 16% and has been stagnant for the last couple of years. The Indian manufacturing industry needs to focus on disruptive quality improvements. This needs a change of mindset and robust design with systematic problem-solving methods. Smart automation, lean methods, MTM-time study method and even robotics need to be adopted. Smart manufacturing is another option for India’s industry. India is already known as an IT-hub and this can be used as an advantage to improve the performance of production lines, quality of products and processes. Additionally, agility in terms of flexible production line concepts also needs to be looked into. Lastly, competent and well-trained workmanship is key. There is room for improvement for Indian manufacturers in these aspects. While some companies have realised the importance of Industry 4.0, when compared globally, the progress is too small. The biggest concerns are quality and productivity and manufacturing industries can do much better.

Can you brief us on the various manufacturing principles used in your plants?

In our plants, we have been implementing the Bosch Production System (BPS). It's objectives are to have a culture of continuous improvement of manufacturing and logistics processes, to detect and remove waste and to use standards like leveling, Kanban and Heijunka boards. Another tool that we use is our Shop floor Management Cycle (SFMC), which contains cycle-time documentation, hourly tracking of the line performance and systematic problem solving tools. We have also implemented the Layered Process Confirmation (LPC), which helps all levels of leaders to check that all processes are running as planned.

What is your opinion on advanced technology strategy that has to be implemented in the shop floors for optimal ROI?

At Bosch in India, we follow the rule that the ROI of I4.0-projects or smart automation must not exceed two years. Each project has to be derived from the value-stream design and aligned with our cost/quality targets. There is the risk that one of the projects may fail. But with close monitoring, this is reduced. We also reduce the risk by cross-functional and cross-divisional team work.

What according to you are the major challenges faced in today’s shop floors and how can they be eliminated?

Leadership on the shop floor is a challenge. We need leaders who can spend more time for improvement activities and for trouble shooting. Hence, we have launched a Front line Manager Development program, where we carry out regular methodological training for our top-managers and enable them to act as mentors. The second challenge is teaching and enabling our operators and line managers to learn to see. This is only possible by implementing standards, layered audits, consistent mentoring and fresh-eye assessments. The third challenge is the mindset regarding quality. Everyone is responsible for quality and we have launched several campaigns to instill this culture.

How will concepts like Industry 4.0 boost productivity in manufacturing industries?

If we introduce advanced technology in the right manner, it will be a disruptive improvement of the competitiveness of Indian manufacturers and can create more jobs. But, these jobs will look totally different. Less qualified jobs will be replaced by high qualified ones, the role of the human being in the process will change from commander and/or captain to conductor, using connectivity and perhaps even artificial intelligence. China, Europe and the US have identified this as strategically important as well.

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