KOSTAL In­dia ex­pands do­mes­tic busi­ness

Auto components India - - CONTENTS - Story by: Bhar­gav TS

KOSTAL In­dia Pri­vate Lim­ited, the wholly-owned sub­sidiary of the Ger­man tech­nol­ogy com­pany KOSTAL Group, is ex­pand­ing in a big way with a re­newed fo­cus on the do­mes­tic OEMs. The com­pany, which man­u­fac­tures mecha­tronic mod­ules, ECUs, switches and pan­els, is ex­pand­ing its pro­duc­tion in­fra­struc­ture and in­creas­ing its prod­uct port­fo­lio. The com­pany makes all kinds of sin­gle switches for the car in­te­ri­ors like hazard, steer­ing col­umn switches, HVAC con­trol panel, power win­dows, gearshift, head­lamp switches etc.

Present in 23 coun­tries in Asia, the Amer­i­cas and Europe, the KOSTAL Group re­ported sales of Euro 2.58 bil­lion in 2017. KOSTAL In­dia which be­gan as a joint ven­ture be­tween KOSTAL and NTTF, be­came a wholly-owned sub­sidiary of the KOSTAL Group in May 2011.

For the pro­posed ca­pac­ity ex­pan­sion, KOSTAL In­dia has ac­quired a 12-acre plot in the third phase of SIP­COT in Ra­nipet, in Tamil Nadu close to the ex­ist­ing plant op­er­at­ing out of rented premises. Suresh Bhaskaran, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, KOSTAL In­dia Pri­vate Lim­ited said, the com­pany in the first phase, would con­struct about 9,000 sqm to ac­com­mo­date the ma­chines and equip­ment from the ex­ist­ing plant, and to com­mis­sion new man­u­fac­tur­ing and assem­bly lines.

“ln the new spa­cious plant we will be adding more ma­chines to be well equipped with all cap­i­tal equip­ment. The tech­ni­cal part of in­vest­ment in the build­ing is go­ing on as we have cer­tain spec­i­fi­ca­tions like acous­ti­cal set­tings to be met. We have en­gaged an en­gi­neer­ing com­pany for that. We are look­ing at ‘think global, act lo­cal’ con­cept to re­duce de­pen­dence on im­ports. The idea is to match global prices wher­ever pos­si­ble. The bud­getary part is sep­a­rate as we look at the tech­ni­cal fea­si­bil­ity be­fore com­ing down to cost,” Bhaskaran told Auto Com­po­nents In­dia.

Thrust on ex­ports

KOSTAL In­dia sup­plies seat ad­juster switch to Volk­swa­gen Global through its Ger­man par­ent. The com­pany plans ex­ports to In­done­sia also. In the do­mes­tic mar­ket, the com­pany sup­plies to Ford In­dia, Tata Mo­tors, Maruti Suzuki, Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra, Re­nault Nis­san and Fiat Chrysler. By 2020, the share of do­mes­tic busi­ness will in­crease with­out com­pro­mis­ing on ex­ports.

The com­pany caters to Ford In­dia’s Ecosport and As­pire. For Maruti Suzuki, the sup­plies are for Alto. Soon it will sup­ply to Er­tiga, WagonR and Baleno. Some of the cars ex­ported by Maruti Suzuki will also have parts man­u­fac­tured by KOSTAL In­dia.

“We go for ex­ports to con­firm our abil­ity to make world-class prod­ucts with lo­cal man­power. These are highly labour-in­ten­sive assem­bly lines. When the man­ual con­tent is high, the chances of mak­ing mis­takes are more. We started with a sam­ple and found that we could meet the global stan­dards. Top Euro­pean com­pa­nies like Volk­swa­gen set their qual­ity lev­els very high and they cer­ti­fied ev­ery step of our lo­cal­i­sa­tion and en­sured that we were on the right path. About 70% of our work­force is ru­ral women with min­i­mum ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ing them to han­dle crit­i­cal com­po­nents was a chal­lenge. We wanted to prove it as pos­si­ble

and were suc­cess­ful in do­ing so. To­day we are ex­port­ing with a good qual­ity record,” he said.

State-of-the-art plant

“Our vi­sion is to have a smooth, lean man­u­fac­tur­ing line that syn­chro­nises all ac­tiv­i­ties to­gether. The new state-of-theart plant in Ra­nipet will meet the re­quire­ments of our cus­tomers and show them that we can make more. Our first fo­cus will be on our em­ploy­ees and their safety – we will al­ways be a peo­ple-driven com­pany,” Bhaskaran said.

“We want a proper plant that has got a smooth flow, where we can elim­i­nate most of the non­va­lue-added ac­tiv­i­ties, es­pe­cially trans­port. Value-stream map­ping has to be done in the plant. We are look­ing for a user-friendly and labour-in­ten­sive sys­tem. We will con­trol in­ven­tory; gone are the days when parts were kept pil­ing up. In to­day’s chang­ing world, if we have a hun­dred parts of a par­tic­u­lar model and to­mor­row that model is changed, the parts be­come ob­so­lete and have to be scrapped. That is not the ap­proach we should have. In the past, mass pro­duc­tion was the key, but to­day it is sin­gle­piece move­ment and batch man­u­fac­tur­ing,” he said.

KOSTAL In­dia is think­ing of adopt­ing new gen­er­a­tion man­u­fac­tur­ing prac­tices. But, it has not yet moved in that di­rec­tion. “We are a com­pany still wed­ded to con­ven­tional meth­ods of work­ing. There are still many ques­tion marks on dis­rup­tive tech­nolo­gies like 3D print­ing. Vol­umes are still not speak­ing about the glo­ries of 3D. We don’t want to jump blindly on to the band­wagon,” Bhaskaran said. With con­nected cars and hy­brids, glob­ally many changes are tak­ing place in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try. This gives lot of scope for the in­te­gra­tion of elec­tron­ics in the in­dus­try. KOSTAL In­dia, with the sup­port of KOSTAL across the globe, is keep­ing abreast of the global changes. “There are 2 types of trends hap­pen­ing in the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try now. One is on the pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle side, with peo­ple talk­ing of electric cars; the other is the con­nected car. We have been talk­ing of con­nected cars for 2 years; sud­denly we are look­ing at cars with gaso­line go­ing out of the mar­ket. France has fixed 2025 for the shift. We are gear­ing up glob­ally for both - con­nected cars and electric cars,” he said.

An­other ma­jor change that af­fects KOSTAL In­dia is the emer­gence of touch pan­els and screens in cars re­plac­ing switches. “This has a lot of scope in In­dia for which we are get­ting solid sup­port be­cause the big­gest chal­lenge in In­dia is dust that gets into the switches; touch screens or pan­els would solve that is­sue. Of course, the driv­ers are still not com­fort­able with touch screens. Those are chal­lenges we have to tackle, for which we are pre­pared. We have to wait and watch how these tech­nolo­gies will come to In­dia. We have electric cars, but the bat­ter­ies are not lon­glast­ing; they run only upto 80km. We are look­ing at cars that can run for 250km at a stretch. When that will come re­mains to be seen, but as an electric parts provider we are pre­pared, with our global part­ners ready to sup­port us,” Bhaskaran said.

The en­tire in­stru­ment panel or a part of it can have touch pan­els and it purely de­pends on the cus­tomers’ need. “Ini­tially, for the In­dian mar­ket, we could re­place the HVAC pan­els, where you keep turn­ing the knob to con­trol air­con­di­tion­ing speed, with a touch panel. From there, we can go on to in­di­ca­tors and other items. The screen dis­play on the ve­hi­cle will be blank and will come to life only when the en­gine is started,” he said.

“Many OEMs are work­ing on hap­tics. They do tell us what has to be im­ple­mented. We are the peo­ple who could de­fine what hap­tics is. Our ex­pe­ri­ence from 1912 and the many patents we have de­vel­oped en­able us to do that,” Bhaskaran con­cluded.

Steer­ing col­umn mo­d­ule

Suresh Bhaskaran, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, KOSTAL In­dia Pvt Ltd

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