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K G Mohan Kumar, Senior Vice President & Director, Manufacturing & Maintenance, Toyota Kirloskar Auto Parts (TKAP)

7 Ratings

Production Planning & Control "Pursuing self-reliance"

Apr 10, 2017

K G Mohan Kumar, Senior Vice President & Director, Manufacturing & Maintenance, Toyota Kirloskar Auto Parts (TKAP), believes in shared vision, strategy, values and leadership for a manufacturing success. He talks on the best practices in Toyota and the localisation strategy in India, in an interview with Shekhar Jitkar. Excerpts…

Can you brief us on the various manufacturing principles/tools & production concepts used in TKAP’s plants? Tell us more about Toyota Production System.

Basically, TPS is a Lean approach, to eliminate all waste – Muri, Mura and Muda in the process and add more value to the customer. At TKAP, we specifically use “3-pillar” approach to address daily management of shop floor with a strong base of Total Employee Involvement and 4S. The three pillars are Standardised Work, Ownership Maintenance and Process Point Management, which together address the key performance indicators of safety, quality, productivity, delivery, cost, environment and morale; thereby achieve customer satisfaction. In order to ensure successful implementation through discipline of compliance to these practices, HRD and team work is key. “Good thinking makes good products” is our motto. Good thinking needs good people, and team work ensures 1+1>2. Our shop floors are visual, where normal and abnormal is clearly visible to everyone and that enables us utilise power of the team to not only address these abnormalities in real time, but also undertake Kaizen to make small but continuous improvements. Ultimately, our vision is to exceed expectations (of all our stakeholders) and be rewarded with a smile.

How do TKAP’s Bengaluru plants compare with other Toyota plants on efficiency, productivity & safety?

The performance metrics of all similar plants worldwide are constantly benchmarked to identify better performing ones and share the best practices. It is not just result, but also the process that is benchmarked, as the process is what we “manage” or “control”. Our production lines are certified as Bronze, Silver and Gold – the three levels indicate system establishment, system compliance and global result achievement. We have certified assessors who check not only the process, but also compliance to set criteria and thus ensure sustenance of these activities. Currently, over 70% of our lines are certified to Gold level; there are few affiliates worldwide who have achieved this performance level. The target for safety and quality is, of course, zero accidents & zero defects respectively; productivity is measured through line efficiency with a target >98%. These metrics too are clearly visualised in each production line, either through line specific Andon boards or line management boards. As an end result, intensive cost benchmarking is also done of similar products manufactured in various locations globally, as an indicator of the success of such sharing of best practices.

How much will be the percentage increase of localisation for TKAP with expansion of TKAP’s Bidadi unit?

We have four product lines and the localisation levels differ for each of them, the best being over 90% depending on production volume and availability of suppliers. A dedicated team of engineers work on this activity, to not only identify potential suppliers, but also prepare their production lines and systems to global standards of Toyota, before we start actual procurement. Such dedicated effort ensures near zero defect supplies right from the start of mass production from our supplier partners. To continuously level up existing supplies, we have an activity called SPEED – Supplier Performance Enhancement, Education and Development, wherein we train supplier partners on our best practices with an objective to ensure a thoroughly Lean supply chain that is truly competitive.

Another distinct feature of our localisation drive is to go beyond “just buying in Rupee terms” to “true localisation”, wherein the entire supply chain, right from basic raw material, is localised meeting the global quality parameters of Toyota, resulting in development of Tier2 & Tier3 suppliers as well. Moreover, our focus is not only on localisation of direct parts that go into manufacturing, but also indirect inputs, such as tools, consumables, jigs, fixtures and equipment, thus utilising the true potential of a vibrant Indian industry. We also pursue self-reliance in terms of up-skilling our engineering talent in areas, such as project implementation, supervision, supplier development etc, for which services of overseas specialists were availed earlier. Through these programs, we will ensure “Make in India” a reality.

How can today’s highly productive manufacturing solutions address current manufacturing challenges such as productivity improvement, cost reduction, efficient processes, etc?

Sky is indeed the lower limit as far as Kaizen is concerned and that is the mantra for continuous improvement in our process; to offset inflation through productivity improvement by Kaizen. We use low cost automation and line balancing in order to reduce human effort and improve efficiency. As our inflation averages over 10% YoY, this is a big challenge since conventional automation solutions are expensive and not justifiable from the return-on-investment point of view. So, our own engineers develop low cost automation solutions such as AGVs with an ROI target of less than two years. We recognise that over 60% of the human effort is spent on walking or transfer of parts from one process to another, which is clearly non-value added and if low cost automation solutions can eliminate them, we can use this time for more value added activities and thus improve productivity. Similarly, there are various advance technologies being developed that we need to dove-tail into our process in order to make our manufacturing process more robust, reliable and competitive.

What is manufacturing success all about in today’s competitive world, especially in the background of ups & downs of the economy?

Success is fairly relative and depends on the eye of the beholder. In order for a business to survive the vagaries of a changing environment, it requires shared vision, strategy, values and leadership – to translate the vision to reality, to nurture a culture with people that ensures sustainability and continuously create added value to all stakeholders. If each process can be empowered, innovative and agile enough to respond to the needs of its succeeding process, we can break down this challenge to the grass root level where each member of the team contributes to and aligns with overall direction of the organisation; such a team will ensure success, irrespective of the size and scope of challenge.

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