How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?
As a plant lifecycle moves from planning, engineering and start-up phases and onto the operation and maintenance phases, the focus turns to keeping the plant operational at optimal performance at lowest possible costs. Today, specially in Indian context, only those will survive who are cost competitive and the ones who deliver VFM. The plant must continuously devise strategies to remain cost competitive at all times. The role of plant leaders have changed in the sense that now the scope is not limited to production, delivery and quality. He must now understand what the cost drivers are and where the waste is most significant so as to use digitalisation judiciously for monitoring critical work stations. Typically, the biggest opportunities come in these areas: Breaking bottlenecks to improve the OEE percentage on work stations; improve internal quality, i.e. improve straight-pass yield / reduce rejections; improve shopfloor ergonomics to increase efficiency; improve supplier management by developing alternate source for high usage raw materials.
How is the workforce evolving with the rapidly changing technology era?
I believe that technology will boost productivity and economic growth — but to make sure that it is optimally used, education is needed. It’s absolutely critical to prepare the workforce for this new world of work. Now is the time to take a deeper look at the changing roles and opportunities that smart technologies present to create the future workforce. The manufacturers must have a contingency of right-skilled workers in place who are committed to problem solving, progress, and innovation.
What kind of productivity improvement tools are being used in your manufacturing plant?
The way we work is changing and there's now more pressure than ever to be as efficient as possible. At Honda we have the philosophy “Respect for individuals” which means each individual is unique and all ideas need to be respected. To improve productivity, we drive various programmes like New Honda Circle (NHC) where a group of associates create improvement themes and implement on their respective work stations. We have implemented TPM to improve the overall work environment and it is running successfully with the involvement of all manufacturing associates. Other tools being used are PDCA, MOST & QICS (our inhouse developed system for real-time quality information and countermeasure monitoring).
How big is the impact of digitalisation and technologies like Additive Manufacturing on manufacturing?
Digitalisation is the way forward and is here to stay. Having said that, it is imperative to stay cost competitive as well. While Europe, America & Japan have started shifting towards manufacturing 4.0, we need to be very cautious and just not look to copy-paste, given the fact that we will lose the cost edge in this rat race. We need to look at judiciously introducing IoT and be very selective in deciding the quantum of its use on critical stations. Instead, look at adopting Additive Manufacturing to deliver consistent quality and also to reduce fatigue of associates working on shopfloor.
Could you please share some examples for adoption of Additive Manufacturing on shopfloor of Honda Cars India?
This was one of those “Out-of-box” ideas, where we decided to use 3D printed inspection jigs in our body shop. This not only made the jigs 75% lighter but also very user-friendly, to leave our associates working on the welding line delighted. The Additive Manufacturing project, in collaboration with Stratasys India, involved a detailed study of our existing jigs and fixtures. These were then redesigned for Additive Manufacturing where we replaced metal with plastic, made them lighter, more ergonomic while cutting down the lead time by almost 60%.