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.
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.