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Given the constantly evolving nature of the Indian manufacturing industry and the rapid pace of digitalisation of the sector in order to cater to the global market, the role of the plant leader has become even more crucial in the current market

PRODUCTION OPTIMISATION PLANT LEADERSHIP Connecting shop floor to top floor

Nov 23, 2018

Given the constantly evolving nature of the Indian manufacturing industry and the rapid pace of digitalisation of the sector in order to cater to the global market, the role of the plant leader has become even more crucial in the current market. The plant leader of an enterprise today has to lead from the front adhering to strict standards of quality while taking productivity to the next level. The cover story features a series of interviews from our industry experts in the Indian manufacturing sector, who share their insights on the challenges being faced by plant leaders, and how to achive and sustain manufacturing excellence.

“Digitalisation is the mantra to walk with the world” - T P Sridhar, CEO, Ace Designers

Can you share your observations on the manufacturing sector in India? How do you think the sector has evolved over the years?

The manufacturing sector in India over the years has evolved to become a global supplier. Organisations have put in systems and practices to cater to the growing demand of both quality and delivery requirements. They have also geared up to respond to the sudden uncertainties in both upward and downward demand, coming from their customers. The capital goods sector is also putting its best effort to cater to these needs by reducing their lead times.

Do you think the plant leaders’ role is also changing with the changes in the manufacturing world? How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?

The role of the plant leaders has expanded manifold in recent times. From a person merely being responsible for production and sustenance of processes, the roles have expanded to infrastructure creation, work force management, cross learning across plants and bringing in new cultural transformation initiatives. In other words, the role of productivity improvement has now been replaced with operational excellence. Moreover, organisations have come out with innovative methods of managing the work force keeping in mind the prevailing labour management laws and practices. Managements have learnt the art of deploying appropriate work force based on the nature of job, keeping in mind the cost accrued along the chain of activities.

How can the plant managers and their teams work towards achieving and sustaining excellence under the umbrella of a corporate and business unit strategy of continuous improvement? Can you give examples from your organisation?

Most of the Indian manufacturing plants are set up as green field projects and naturally, there remains a large scope for continuous improvement. We have seen that projects on productivity improvement, cost reduction and non-value added activities elimination contribute greatly to achieving operational excellence. Most of these projects of cross functional nature bring in a spirit of team work and knowledge dissemination. Setting up a flow line for the final assembly of a product to give a definite output of one machine per day and then improving the same to double the output was a classic example in our case.

How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing? Can you suggest a framework or roadmap for a successful digitalisation journey?

Digitalisation is definitely coming in a big way in the manufacturing industry. Machines are being made IoT-friendly and complete plant data is being aimed to be brought under digital control. Though the impact is not yet seen on a large scale, it is only a matter of time that things will take a quantum leap. We are working on the areas of the product being enabled for use under IoT environment, i.e. product IoT, the way the products are made, i.e. the manufacturing IoT and the way the products are used, signified by user-related IoT.

Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?

Sustaining the current position, ensuring rapid growth, keeping pace with the latest technologies and retaining the customer loyalty are the challenges in today’s environment, more so in the context of growing customer demand and mushrooming of competition. Creating and sustaining a culture with the basic organisational core values across people and plants is definitely a challenge for rapidly growing organisations.

“Plant leader is the harbinger of changing industries” - Naresh Gaur, Senior Vice President—Manufacturing Operations, Amneal Pharmaceuticals

Can you share your observations on the manufacturing sector in India? How do you think the sector has evolved over the years?

The pace, at which the changes happened a few decades back in the manufacturing sector was far less than what is happening today. With the advent of IoT & Industry 4.0, smart factories will be the norm.

Do you think the plant leaders’ role is also changing with the changes in the manufacturing world? How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?

A plant head should be a Jack-of-all-trades, but requires the skills of a Master-of-everything for facing the speed of the ever-changing world of manufacturing. They should be the face of the company, who can see what is happening around and be open to newer technologies so as to bring in advantages in improved efficiencies, data generation, lower operating costs, minimal rejects or defect generation.
The plant leader should be a visionary, equipped and skilled enough to take charge and put technology to its best advantage. He or she should also be far more agile, open and accept self-learning in a big way to be abreast of the newer challenges before they become a threat.

How can the plant managers and their teams work towards achieving and sustaining excellence under the umbrella of a corporate and business unit strategy of continuous improvement? Can you give examples from your organisation?

Smart factories will provide a wealth of real-time data and control in the hands of plant leadership, enabling them with better monitoring and possibly remote control. Statistical tools will further help them take a better decision. Big Data enablers will lead to newer process drivers for plant efficiencies improvement.

How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing? Can you suggest a framework or roadmap for a successful digitalisation journey?

With the advent of IoT & Industry 4.0 being on the road to implementation across the manufacturing sector, the impact of digitalisation can be felt across the spectrum. Along with smart factories and a greater access to real-time data, plant leadership will be enhanced and will provide better monitoring and remote control. Big Data enablers and availability of robotics has opened up a new vista to replace humans in monotonous, routine and hazardous tasks, bringing in efficiency and establishing an error-proof work environment at a faster pace.

Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?

The challenges for plant leaders could be clubbed into two major categories—internal and external. Both pose different types of challenges that require a different mindset, skill-set or approach to solve them. Internal challenges like engagement of employees, maintaining the operational cost, continual improvements and generational gap keeps the plant leadership on its toes, which can be managed with proactive planning, judicious execution and handling of issues, discussion, seeking advice and acquiring desired skills.

External challenges require greater efforts, risk mitigation plans and should be addressed appropriately. Natural calamities, changes in regulatory scenario and availability of raw materials are governed by various market factors and cannot be controlled or anticipated but preparedness to combat them is necessary. For famous manufacturing plants, acceptance of the new technology is a bigger challenge as the work force is not ready to accept it. Hence, judicious planning, having optimal inventories and alternate solutions will help.

“Accepting innovation for a better tomorrow” - Sunil Humnabadkar, Plant Manager, Autoliv

Can you share your observations on the manufacturing sector in India? How do you think the sector has evolved over the years?

The manufacturing sector in India has evolved over the years with a clear shift in the quality standards with global companies coming in and helping improve the standards in manufacturing. Previously, we had followed a seven-step Supplier Quality Improvement Programme (SQIP), which helped the tier 1 companies to come up in quality requirements and become export-capable, making them a global supplier. One major reason as to why Indian companies are now at par with the global companies is because of the processes being followed as prescribed by the international standards, such as, the One Product One Process (1P1P), which enables products to be manufactured anywhere complying to international standards.

Do you think the plant leaders’ role is also changing with the changes in the manufacturing world? How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?

The role becomes challenging as there is a focus on the supply chain efficiency, which is being looked after by the organisation with the technology upgradation and government taxation getting simplified. The plant leaders can make a difference in achieving the common goal of the organisation by focusing on the continual improvement, education and training to the operators, execution of the systems and processes, such as, IATF and others.

How can the plant managers and their teams work towards achieving and sustaining excellence under the umbrella of a corporate and business unit strategy of continuous improvement? Can you give examples from your organisation?

Plant managers today have ample productivity tools using which they can achieve excellence in the manufacturing sector. Our company is specifically into mass manufacturing and assembly oriented plant and so, the Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) tool is used to measure the productivity of the overall plant. We believe that labour productivity is the key to success and hence, Labor Minutes Per Unit (LMPU) and Time Per Unit (TPU) are used, which help in tracking the productivity, thus eliminating the ambiguity in many aspects and improving the efficiency of the organisation. The workforce is also adapting to these rapid changes as computer and mobile knowledge is easily understood, which helps the blue-collar employees to quickly adopt to the changing technology era and adapt the skills faster than before.

How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing? Can you suggest a framework or roadmap for a successful digitalisation journey?

The Industry 4.0 talks about the digitalisation of the manufacturing operations and we, at Autoliv, have a home-grown system called Leading to Lean (L2L), an online system to track the following key performance indicators, such as, OEE, LMPU, TPU, Defect Per Million Unit (DPMU), schedule adherence, Jidoka where quality issues are raised, safety near miss incidence log, etc. We are totally working towards the full implementation of the digitalisation in our manufacturing vertical, which will help us focus on the non-value added activity and eliminate it for overall efficiency.

Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?

We are already on the Cloud for our manufacturing execution system and enterprise resources planning system, which is fully adapted by the plant leadership team for the day-to-day operations. The challenge is to make alternative processes available, which should be robust and compliant. Competition is a part of life and has to be dealt with when we encounter them.

“Contributing to initiatives for a promising future” - Rajesh Naik, Director—Manufacturing, BASF India

Can you share your observations on the manufacturing sector in India? How do you think the sector has evolved over the years?

India will soon become one of the top five economies globally. We took almost 60 years to reach a GDP of $1 trillion, then only six years for the second trillion, and only three for the fourth trillion. This sector plays a significant role in making India an economic powerhouse and making it a major growth engine. We, at BASF, a leading company globally engaged in creating chemistry for a sustainable future, are excited and keen to contribute in attaining the target of ‘Made in India’ from manufacturing. One important differentiating factor is sustained commitment and action from the industry and government to meet global standards in environment, health and safety, which has to come from the top management.

Do you think the plant leaders’ role is also changing with the changes in the manufacturing world? How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?

At a manufacturing plant, people, materials, machines, environment, energies in different forms, processes continuously interact and add value. A person leading the manufacturing team thus, needs to simplify these complex interactions and keep his/her team motivated and disciplined for the routines.

Do you think the plant leaders’ role is changing? How can plant leaders make a difference? How can plant managers and their teams work towards achieving and sustaining excellence under the umbrella of a corporate and business unit strategy of continuous improvement?

Companies, both Indian and multinational, have transformed manufacturing in India. A strong value system, good governance, high EHS standards and an inclusive work environment are required for employees to thrive and bring positive change. Leaders should take pride in their challenging role as it encompasses many roles requiring them to be a lawyer sometimes, an accountant, a coach, a trainer, a motivator or an EHS professional and so on. It is this width and depth, which makes the role of the head challenging, interesting and of high esteem. We need to attract and retain the best talents into manufacturing. I am positive on the ‘Make in India’ initiative and the impacts we can have on the society like skilling, creating jobs, protecting the environment while contributing to the economy.

How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing? Can you suggest a framework for a successful digitalisation journey? Would you like to comment on plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?

Digital operations or Industry 4.0 will transform manufacturing. Industry 4.0 encompasses end-to-end digitisation and integration of the value chain. Mastering Industry 4.0 requires deep understanding of collaboration, top management commitment and a clear strategy. BASF is leading the digital transformation in chemicals. We launched the ‘BASF 4.0’ project in early 2015 and are working to enhance our efficiencies and decision-making processes with digital programmes. Our company is leveraging the power of digital technology by iterative improvements and early customer engagement.

Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?

The future of manufacturing in India will be influenced by factors like digitisation, skill enhancement, high-quality infrastructure, R&D and procuring them will be a major challenge.

“Organisations need to be agile, transcending, and resilient” - Girish Parundekar, General Manager—Manufacturing, Blue Star India

Can you share your observations on the manufacturing sector in India? How do you think it has evolved over the years?

The Indian manufacturing sector has evolved after liberalisation. We recently surpassed France to become the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third largest by Purchasing Power Parity. India’s manufacturers can capture the global market because of rising demands. This is expected to result in India’s manufacturing sector growing manifold. If it utilises its full potential, then we can generate 25% of GDP and we will get in the category of the world’s top five in manufacturing.

Do you think the plant leaders’ role is also changing with the changes in the manufacturing world? How can they make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?

The role of the plant leader is certainly changing to meet the competitive and sustainable growth. They can make a difference if they make it a habit to incorporate some aspects like, quick response, flexibility, sensing new technologies, bringing innovative processes and focus on improvement.

How can the plant managers and their teams work towards achieving and sustaining excellence under the umbrella of a corporate and business unit strategy of continuous improvement? Can you give examples from your organisation?

Plant manager and the management needs to be convinced that manufacturing excellence helps in improving the organisation. Our divisional head of manufacturing pioneered in the manufacturing excellence program. Top management is now convinced of looking at the outcome of this program. The teams have been motivated as they get trained, work, achieve, get appreciated and improvement culture is sustained.

How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing? Can you suggest a framework or roadmap for a successful digitalisation journey?

Impact of digitisation is great as it brings major change in operating system. For India, Industry 4.0 means a milestone to achieve global competitiveness. The government of India through CII has setup a Smart Manufacturing Council and prepared a clear road map for its nationwide implementation. The simplest roadmap would be to seek approval from management, cross functional team formation, deciding the software platform and implementation partner, embarking on training and skill development program, scoping exercise to finalise companywide scope at broader level, deciding model plant for implementation and taking one pillar of Industry 4.0 for implementation, which is more critical to business growth, such as, IoT, implement and observe and based on feedback, go for plant wide implementation.

Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?

Critical things, which are typically found, are changes in forecast due to various reasons, including market situation and customer needs. This results in higher inventory levels and pressure on margins. Such fluctuations demand for better production planning, supply chain management and flexible manufacturing system. There is a constant pressure to optimise conversion cost by improving the labour productivity. Another challenge is the speed of introduction of new product to market due to its short life as a result of changes in technology and customer demand.

To overcome these challenges, the organisation needs to be agile, transcending and resilient. It needs to adapt new technologies and the latest manufacturing excellence techniques, which bring in better efficiencies and effectiveness. Concurrently, organisatons must work continuously to bring in innovations in products and process while balancing the work culture, people and environment for sustainability.

“New age leaders are expected to be typical role models for their subordinates” - Ganesh Mani S, Senior VP – Production, Hyundai Motor India

Can you share your observations on the manufacturing sector in India? How do you think the sector has evolved over the years?

The manufacturing sector is a key contributor to the growth and development of the Indian economy. It has got a fresh impetus with the ‘Make in India’ initiative, which has opened up a range of possibilities. Fresh investments have opened up new vistas and digital technologies have created a level playing field in India and globally. This democratisation of the manufacturing process has increased efficiency and cost competitiveness. These developments have augured well for the industry, making it more focused, quality conscious and fiercely competitive.

Do you think the plant leaders’ role is also changing with the changes in the manufacturing world? How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?

Three aspects will be the new focus of modern leadership style – equal-focus on numerator and denominator, obsess over people engagement & involvement, and adopt different generation of employees. Contemporary plant leaders need to devise programs to bridge the skill deficit in different verticals. Education, professional training, and professional development need to become a priority. So, multi-skilling is the key to sustainable operation in new age manufacturing.

How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing? Can you suggest a framework or roadmap for a successful digitalisation journey?

Juxtaposition of new age digital technologies creates an effective digital-physical environment. At the shop floors, digitalisation and augmentation has helped in reaping the low hanging fruits of dynamic production system. Also, most automotive manufacturers are adopting a new ecosystem for creating a flexible and collaborative production process & approach for sustainable operations. Plant leaders need to ensure that all parts of the company operate in sync. The following three aspects will be the key for successful digital transformation – digital ‘up-skilling’, building digital ecosystem and cross-functional teaming.

How can plant managers and their teams work towards achieving and sustaining excellence under the umbrella of corporate and business strategy of continuous improvement? Can you give examples from your organisation?

In this digital era, we are combining technology, process and people for sustainable results. Technology, when combined with engagement of people, will always lead to sustainable growth. When you see the employee engagement hierarchy, pride ranks on top. So, we decided to ‘create a sense of pride’ amongst all employees at HMI. We have coined a new methodology called My Place My Pride (MPMP), whose core purpose is to instill pride in the minds of our people, align them with the company goals, and to get individual ideas and commitments.

Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?

One of the challenges confronting plant leaders today is the complexity of the workforce. The leader has to manage workforce at multiple levels, from addressing the aspirations of the different generations of the workforce to encouraging the adaptation of new technologies. He also has to keep an eye on customer preferences, which calls for a lot of flexibility.

Especially, new age leaders are expected to be typical role models for their subordinates at work. So, it is necessary that a leader create an environment, where employees can share their thoughts freely. This way, leaders can enhance employee engagement.

“Keep yourself abreast with the latest trends” - Gaurav Awasthi, Head – QCC, Honda Cars India

Can you share your observations on the manufacturing sector in India? How do you think the sector has evolved over the years?

Manufacturing has emerged as one of the high growth sectors in India and is on its way to become a hub for hi-tech manufacturing. The sector in India has taken rapid strides to keep pace with the industrial disruptions, most recently being Industry 4.0. There have been concerted efforts to introduce the latest technologies, not only at large-scale industries but also in SMEs. There has also been a visible positive change in the condition of shop floors.

Do you think the plant leaders’ role is also changing with the changes in the manufacturing world? How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?

In these rapidly changing times, the plant leader’s role acquires increased importance. With new technology becoming increasingly cost-friendly & with corporations willing to pass on the benefits to the customer, it is imperative for a plant leader to keep himself abreast with the latest trends in technology & utilise the same to improve the efficiency & productivity of his area. Each small improvement implemented will substantially improve the bottomline of the organisation.

How can the plant managers and their teams work towards achieving and sustaining excellence under the umbrella of a corporate and business unit strategy of continuous improvement? Can you give examples from your organisation?

No one has said that the journey to manufacturing excellence is easy. It takes devotion to a vision of excellence and a determined effort over time. The starting point of this journey has to be through a dialogue between the plant managers & their teams. The dialogue must be regarding the issues plaguing the current day-to-day working. After deliberation & prioritisation of the issues, a roadmap along with the improvement targets as well as timeline for ROI needs to be chalked out. Ultimately, each activity has to make business sense. Productivity improvement activities can be identified in soft (manpower) as well as hard (equipment) areas. Improvement in operator efficiency through shifting of ergonomically difficult and dangerous jobs to robots as well as eliminating process bottlenecks by introducing equipment, thereby eliminating process variations is the way forward.

How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing? Can you suggest a framework or roadmap for a successful digitalisation journey?

This is where the digitalisation of the plant actually comes in. It is transforming manufacturing globally and is fast becoming the unavoidable solution to modernising the manufacturing industry as a whole. Now, we can literally control the plant processes & equipment remotely, monitor trends & correct the abnormalities. The greenfield factories coming up now are already working on the principle of connected shop floor. Slowly but steadily, brownfield companies are also chalking out a roadmap for step-wise connectivity of the plant processes.

Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?

To take the manufacturing sector to the next level, digitalisation is a must. Changing with the time for improved productivity, quality, safety is the need of the hour. Digitalisation is here to stay and it will evolve.

“Plant leaders need to focus more on effective use of automation” - Hussain Shariyarr, Sr Vice President & Head – Manufacturing, Godrej Appliances

Can you share your observations on the manufacturing sector in India? How do you think the sector has evolved over the years?

Companies in the Indian manufacturing sector are restructuring operations and adopting world-class lean manufacturing practices in their bid to improve productivity, quality consistency, profits and become globally competitive. While India has attracted an FDI inflow of USD 22 billion earlier this year, its export numbers are still staggeringly low, which is one of the key indicators in terms of global manufacturing competitiveness. The challenge lies in the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies by the SMEs and MSMEs, rather than the large manufacturing houses, to be at par with global benchmarks.

Do you think the plant leaders’ role is also changing with the changes in the manufacturing world? How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?

Operating in the VUCA environment, the plant leader’s role remains as one of the most challenging ones, where the boardroom meets the shop floor. Being drivers of the future of manufacturing, the plant leaders institutionalise a shared vision across the value chain, from suppliers to customers. Collaboration amongst all stakeholders, while creating value through the seamless adoption of innovation, is one of the key priorities for plant leaders. They also need to focus more on effective use of automation for achieving energy efficiency and sustainability, while creating smart flexible manufacturing setups having demand-driven supply chains in order to meet customer expectations. Yet, another area of challenge for plant leaders is retention of the right talent, which is critical for the success of the future of Indian manufacturing.

How can the plant managers and their teams work towards achieving and sustaining excellence under the umbrella of a corporate and business unit strategy of continuous improvement? Can you give examples from your organisation?

Plant managers need to cascade the strategic goals to the operational level and implement the mantra of excellence down the line in each operation, i.e. differentiate from the competition, be smarter, be more agile and be aligned. We, at Godrej Appliances, have worked towards transforming our factories by creating a strategy model for manufacturing, which addresses needs and expectations of all stakeholders.

How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing? Can you suggest a framework or roadmap for a successful digitalisation journey?

When we talk about digitalisation in manufacturing, we are referring to the use of digital technologies to create sustainable growth for manufacturers of all sizes. Over the past decade, digitalisation, as a tool for growth, has led to greater productivity, efficiency, and flexibility, with optimisation of digital systems and processes throughout the production cycle. The digitisation journey roadmap at our end includes the evolving and integration of ERP, Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Product Life Cycle Management (PLM) – the three pillars of manufacturing.

Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?

The strategies formulated in boardrooms must quickly be delivered by the plant, keeping in mind the optimal performance at the lowest cost. Benchmarking continuously with the best and innovating at every step is the key to competitiveness. Thus, plant leaders need to be alert and manufacturing must be agile. Secondly, plant leaders need to keep themselves well-informed about the law of land and the societal & political framework.

“Plant managers have to believe that the plant is their own.” - Vijay Kalra, CEO – Mahindra Vehicle Manufacturers Ltd, Chief Manufacturing Operations (AS) – Mahindra & Mahindra

Can you share your observations on the manufacturing sector in India? How do you think the sector has evolved over the years?

The Indian industry is one of the world’s fastest growing industry. This sector is vital for the country’s economic progress, and in the last few years, has witnessed the evolution of certain key trends, which are converging towards the growth of sectors like, foreign investments, strategic alliances, use of technology and customer centricity. Today, the country’s attractiveness as a manufacturing centre for foreign companies is clear. Manufacturing provides significant multiplier to the economy in terms of output and employment creation. Rising disposable incomes and the new wave of consumerism arising out of it will be key drivers. Foreign Direct Investments are pouring in large numbers and major global manufacturing companies will setup manufacturing facilities and develop R&D services, both on a large scale. The GDP of manufacturing is currently around 17% and our government has set a target to grow it further to 25%, which speaks a lot about the commitment from the government as well. The future of Indian manufacturing remains bright.

Do you think the plant leaders’ role is also changing with the changes in the manufacturing world? How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?

The plant leaders’ role is changing, indeed. More than an authoritarian style, now it is of advocacy, mentoring and coaching. In the changing scenario of uncertainty, plant leaders should create a culture of collaboration, drive synergy between teams and align everyone towards the common objective.

How can the plant managers and their teams work towards achieving and sustaining excellence under the umbrella of a corporate and business unit strategy of continuous improvement? Can you give examples from your organisation?

The plant managers and their teams should have a clear vision for their plant, which must be drilled down structurally upto the cell leader. There should be a strong co-relation between the plant objective and the corporate strategy. This policy deployment should be supported by review mechanism and daily work management, ensuring the sustenance and continuous improvement. In our organisation, we are following this process and getting benefits from it.

For creating operational excellence, we are following global practices like TPM, TQM and lean manufacturing. We also have our own business excellence model based on world-class manufacturing and an assessment framework to keep the organisation moving forward in the excellence journey.

How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing? Can you suggest a framework or roadmap for a successful digitalisation journey?

The impact is huge as a global shift in manufacturing is taking place due to higher availability and use of technology and digitisation. There will be connectivity throughout the value chain and responsiveness will be the key differentiator and the current skill sets will become redundant.

At Mahindra, we have defined a structured roadmap for implementing digitisation with an approach of customer centricity. The key drivers of Industry 4.0, which we are leveraging are—IIoT strategy, Big Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Additive Manufacturing, automation and robotics and Augmented Reality

Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?

Leadership challenges in today’s era are product customisation, shorter product lifecycles, increasing customer expectation, input cost pressures and lack of skilled workforce availability. Hence, creating and sustaining competitive advantage is the key to growth and progress.

“It is important to make manufacturing reliable” - Nitin Chaudhari, Vice President, Sandvik Asia

Can you share your observations on the manufacturing sector in India? How do you think the sector has evolved over the years?

The manufacturing sector in India has evolved. It is on a high growth trajectory and the competitiveness that it demands at the global level is one of the major drivers for its growth. It has developed a cost competitive manufacturing base and the manufacturing process in companies are finding themselves with improved proficiency and affordability in cost. In developed countries, automation and digital manufacturing is used to remain competitive, while the Indian manufacturing sector can use automation and digital manufacturing in selected areas in order to improve reliability, quality & works towards hybrid solutions. The younger workforce, too, is able to cope up with new demands. Wider knowledge development and more avenues to distribute this knowledge to the workforce in the industry will help us move further.

Do you think the plant leaders’ role is also changing with the changes in the manufacturing world? How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?

Automation along with digital solutions bring big opportunity to reduce cost. Plus, they also improve quality & reliability. If plant managers want this opportunity to be realised, they need to articulate & communicate vision for their plant with workforce to realise this opportunity.

How can the plant managers and their teams work towards achieving and sustaining excellence under the umbrella of a corporate and business unit strategy of continuous improvement? Can you give examples from your organisation?

A process can start by setting business goals. Once those business goals have been set, various tools like, IoT, automation & combinations of these can and should be used to address the challenges to achieve the set goals. At Sandvik, we are successfully using automatic data collection to understand our processes better. We are also developing the capability to produce more complex products. These eventually result in more revenue and profit per head.

How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing? Can you suggest a framework or roadmap for a successful digitalisation journey?

Digital transformation is now in authority for altering the industry. Industrial manufacturers are moving to a digital world. Digitalisation is a must to stay competitive. It is pivotal to be at par globally. However, one must understand that digitalisation itself cannot be an objective. Leaders need to use it to achieve their business goals.

Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?

In recent years, the manufacturing sector has been a key emphasis for the Government of India, looking to make it the next manufacturing destination of the world. India is also quickly turning into one of the most rewarding choices for the manufacturing industry to thrive. Plant leaders play a pivotal role in enabling business for the organisation. Today, it is important to make manufacturing more reliable than before. High quality is a prerequisite to do business and hence, plant leaders need to find ways and means to reach these goals at the lowest possible cost. They need to be mindful about external competitive situation and make use of technology to improve the products and the delivery of products & services to their customers.

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