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India Business Journal - - CONTENTS - MUNISH SHEKHAVAT

Tar­get 2020 : Maruti Suzuki is speed­ing closer to its 20 lakh an­nual sales goal by fo­cus­ing on mod­ern tech­nol­ogy and ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing.

Maruti Suzuki is speed­ing closer to its 20 lakh an­nual sales goal by fo­cus­ing on mod­ern tech­nol­ogy and ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing.

Maruti Suzuki In­dia's mega car fac­to­ries in Gu­ru­gram (for­merly Gur­gaon) and Mane­sar are em­brac­ing new tech­nolo­gies to keep pace with de­mands of the 21st cen­tury. With over 2,400 ro­bots aid­ing 20,000 work­ers, one car is rolling out of Maruti's plant ev­ery 12 sec­onds. It is a far cry from nearly 35 years ago, when the com­pany had first rolled out the now-dis­con­tin­ued iconic M800 model with around 900 peo­ple and neg­li­gi­ble au­to­ma­tion at the then Gur­gaon fac­tory.

Over 4,000 trucks criss-cross the premises, sup­ply­ing com­po­nents and pick­ing up fully-built ve­hi­cles. The two fac­to­ries are abuzz with ac­tiv­ity for 280 days a year to roll out over 15 lakh units of 16 mod­els with 1,100-plus vari­ants. The over Rs 66,900-crore com­pany has al­ready started look­ing beyond 2020, by when it is tar­get­ing to sell 20 lakh units an­nu­ally. In fact, the coun­try's largest car man­u­fac­turer is aim­ing for an­nual sales of 30 lakh units in the next decade.

Tech-driven

Ac­cord­ing to Maruti Suzuki In­dia Ex- ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor (Pro­duc­tion) Ra­jiv Gandhi, the chal­lenge for man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions to meet the de­mands of main­tain­ing dom­i­nant mar­ket po­si­tion is enor­mous. Al­most ev­ery sec­ond pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle sold in In­dia is from the sta­ble of Maruti Suzuki. It calls for mod­ern tech­nolo­gies that as- sist op­er­a­tors, im­prove their ef­fi­cien­cies and bring down fa­tigue to keep the fac­to­ries run­ning flaw­lessly. "In or­der to han­dle the com­plex­ity in man­u­fac­tur­ing, we have in­vested in de­ploy­ing new tech­nolo­gies on the shop floor," adds Mr Gandhi.

The new­est, lean and ef­fi­cient ro­bots have made big pres­ence at the fac­to­ries, which wit­ness over 1.25 crore welds a day. How­ever, the New Delhi- head­quar­tered com­pany has not done away with sim­ple tech­niques that en­sure smooth pro­duc­tion. Over 5,100 fool-proof­ing tools have been in­stalled across all shops to en­sure high prod­uct qual­ity. They use sim­ple signs, like glow­ing of a bulb, to warn the op­er­a­tor if a wrong part is picked for fit­ment. Such a prac­tice en­sures that the com­pany has a di­rect pass record of 93 per cent of com­pleted ve­hi­cles. "Sev­eral au­to­mated qual­ity checks of this type en­sure world- class qual­ity lev­els," points out Mr Gandhi.

A com­pany sell­ing 16 mod­els with 1,100-plus vari­ants in the mar­ket calls for flex­i­bil­ity at the pro­duc­tion unit to meet var­ied de­mands. Maruti Suzuki has been able to ful­fil this re­quire­ment by putting its work­ers through in­ten­sive and ex­ten­sive train­ing. The car-maker has been sys­tem­at­i­cally train­ing peo­ple and skilling them for mul­ti­ple op­er­a­tions. This helps a faster turn­around in new model launches and in­tro­duc­tion of new tech­nol­ogy in ex­ist­ing mod­els. The en­tire man­u­fac­tur­ing is well or­ches­trated with sup­port from a strong IT sys­tem.

Maruti Suzuki has en­hanced flex­i­bil­ity in its lines which en­ables it to pro­duce multi-mod­els on a sin­gle line. "Our weld lines can pro­duce two mod­els on one sin­gle line. Our top-sell­ing mod­els, like Alto, Swift and Dzire, can be pro­duced in more than one line," re­veals Mr Gandhi. Be­sides, mul­ti­skilling has been one of the key fo­cus ar­eas on the shop floor, wherein one op­er­a­tor is sup­posed to know the job

of one sta­tion be­fore and one sta­tion in ad­vance, adds Mr Gandhi.

The au­to­mo­bile com­pany also re­lies on sug­ges­tions from its work­ers to en­hance ef­fi­ciency and im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity at its fac­to­ries. "With sup­port from em­ploy­ees, we were able to achieve record sug­ges­tions of 7,43,147 and cost sav­ings of Rs 203 crore," points out Mr Gandhi, beam­ing with pride.

An­other as­pect of churn­ing out over 5,000 units daily from the two fa­cil­i­ties is han­dling of raw ma­te­ri­als that are be­ing brought to the fac­to­ries by around 3,400 trucks on a daily ba­sis. An­other 650 trucks trans­port as­sem­bled ve­hi­cles from the fac­to­ries to around 2,000 deal­er­ships across the coun­try.

The amount of steel that Maruti Suzuki uses each year can build 32 Eif­fel Tow­ers ev­ery year. Dif­fer­ent com­po­nents, in­clud­ing nuts and bolts and rub­ber parts to tyres, come from 444 tier-I sup­pli­ers and 2,050 tier-II ven­dors. Here too, the com­pany has been re­ly­ing on tech­nol­ogy to im­prove ef­fi­ciency and re­duce the time taken for pre­par­ing the raw ma­te­ri­als to be used in pro­duc­tion. For in­stance, the car-maker re­lies on con­veyor belts that mea­sure up to a to­tal of 10 km to trans­fer var­i­ous parts to dif­fer­ent works stations.

Win­ning all the way

Mean­while, Suzuki Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion, the Ja­panese par­ent of Maruti Suzuki, has set the ball rolling for swifter growth in In­dia. Maruti Suzuki's Gu­jarat plant in Hansalpur, owned di­rectly by Ja­pan's Suzuki, has been op­er­a­tional since Fe­bru­ary. Suzuki has lined up in­vest­ments worth close to Rs 10,000 crore to set up the man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in Gu­jarat to pro­duce 7,50,000 ve­hi­cles a year in the next few years.

The new plant will help in less­en­ing the load on the car-maker's pro­duc­tion plants in Haryana. It will also re­duce the ever-in­creas­ing wait­ing pe­ri­ods on its pop­u­lar mod­els, like Vi­tara Brezza and Baleno. The Gu­jarat plant is lo­cated close to the Mun­dra port and acts as an ideal hub for cars that will be ex­ported to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, like Europe, Africa and Ja­pan.

Suzuki is tar­get­ing to do bet­ter and big­ger in In­dia. This has led to mas­sive in­vest­ments in Maruti Suzuki in the last three years. In­dia clearly is at the cen­tre of dis­cus­sion at Suzuki, be it on elec­tric or hy­brid tech­nol­ogy or even part­ner­ships. With strong sup­port from the par­ent, Maruti wants to be ready when the hy­bridi­s­a­tion wave starts in the coun­try. Such fo­cus on tech­nol­ogy, prod­ucts as well as ser­vices has made cus­tomers stick to brand Maruti for over three and a half decades.

The au­to­mo­bile com­pany has planned to spend around Rs 4,500 crore an­nu­ally over the next few years in bring­ing in new prod­ucts. More­over, it is putting in an­other Rs 1,900 crore for com­mis­sion­ing the sec­ond phase of its R&D cen­tre in Ro­htak in Haryana.

There is also an on­go­ing drive to ex­pand the com­pany's reach across the coun­try's vast hin­ter­lands. Maruti Suzuki is set to add 3,000 out­lets and 1,800 work­shops in the next three years to its ex­ist­ing network of over 2,000 sales out­lets and more than 3,200 work­shops.

Long known for its small cars, Maruti took a quan­tum leap a few years ago and edged out com­pe­ti­tion by ex­pand­ing its prod­uct port­fo­lio ag­gres­sively. With an over­all share of 47 per cent of the pas­sen­ger car mar­ket, the com­pany has main­tained its lead­er­ship across each of the seg­ments right from small cars and sedans to crossovers, sports util­ity ve­hi­cles and vans.

Maruti Suzuki's suc­cess­ful strate­gies, such as set­ting up of the NEXA out­lets fo­cused on pre­mium brands, pre­mi­u­mi­sa­tion of its prod­uct port­fo­lio, float­ing a real es­tate com­pany, get­ting the par­ent com­pany to in­vest in man­u­fac­tur­ing and the lo­cal sub­sidiary's mar­ket­ing ag­gres­sion, have placed it miles ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion. These strate­gies are set to pro­pel Maruti Suzuki to­wards its big goal of 20 lakh sales by 2020.

"Our weld lines can pro­duce two mod­els on one sin­gle line. Our top-sell­ing mod­els, like Alto, Swift and Dzire, can be pro­duced in more than one line." RA­JIV GANDHI ED (Pro­duc­tion), Maruti Suzuki

The car-maker is adding 3,000 sales out­lets and 1,800 work­shops in the next three years.

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