MARUTI’S MANESAR MAGIC
Manufacturing and magic? Yes if it is Maruti Suzuki that’s what happens
HOW MANY OF OUR READERS ARE aware that what Maruti produces in India is equal to or slightly more than what its parent produces elsewhere in the globe? In the last fiscal (2015-16) Maruti Suzuki contributed close to 54 per cent to the total turnover of its Japanese parent and that number is probably going to jump even higher going forward this year.
At the launch of the Ignis in mid-January, we came to know of the firm planning to pull out all the stops and shift into an even higher gear with no less than seven other new models to come in the course of 2017. Marketing boss R S Kalsi informed me that it wasn’t just about getting new models incrementally into the portfolio at close price points but the fact that the market leader had outlined a push to increase sales by at least 10 per cent on a year on year basis that was inherent to its product strategy. Given the fact that Maruti Suzuki already does 1.5 million units annually, the additional ten per cent Kalsi is aiming at could be the volume of another car firm annually!
Maruti Udyog set up shop at Gurgaon in the early 1980s and that plant has been utilised to its maximum capacity and produces roughly around 7,00,000 units annually made up of models like the Alto 800 and K10, the Baleno, Celerio, Ciaz, Swift and D’zire. Realising very quickly as it marched to a position of dominance in the Indian market, a second
plant was considered and immediately set into motion and this came up at Manesar, the proverbial stone’s throw away from the Gurgaon facility. And unlike Gurgaon which is chock-a-block and no expansion is possible, the Mansear plant (produces the Omni, Gypsy, Eeco, Wagon-R, Alto 800, Ertiga, Brezza, S-Cross, D’zire Tour and Ritz) at twice the size has been progressivly ramped up making it surge past Gurgaon in volume. Last year 8,00,000 spanking new Marutis rolled out of the Manesar facility, some 1,00,000 more than from Gurgaon and this figure is hopefully going to increase this year.
What was fascinating for me was not just to see the assembly and other production units housed with the three designated shops progressively commissioned in 2006 (plant A), 2011 (plant B) and 2013 (plant C), but the fact that there might be 16 basic models that are made and almost a thousand variants put together for domestic and export markets! Trying to make sense of the thousand variants must be one hell of a nightmare but the Manesar plant personnel just make it look so effortless given the processes and the production planning that have been wrought into the game. Before someone comes up and tries to call us names, let me explain the huge number put to the variants. Take a model like the Swift for example. The ones sold in Africa will have different legislation for lights while those sold in south east Asia will have to adhere to different rules. Europe will ask for different rules on fuel filler caps and so on and so forth. And with the new Baleno being entirely made in India for well over a hundred global markets, the onus of great quality and performance begins and ends at the plant level itself.
A great deal of automation (to eliminate the three Ds in Maruti parlance – dirty, difficult and dangerous) has been factored into both the Gurgaon and Manesar plants and the sheer stats behind the manufacturing numbers are staggering to say the least. A total of 2,400 robots cut, weld, lift, install parts seamlessly and with a precision that can’t be matched by humans on a scale that defies comprehension. However speaking to officials, I did get to know that the time taken for each car from the weld shop to final rollout from the assembly line is around 12-13 hours and overall the humanautomation balance has been configured pretty efficiently.
Just the length of the conveyors in the assembly halls at both plants totals slightly in excess of ten kilometres and that’s when you can understand that this is de rigueur to Maruti Suzuki rolling out one car every 11 seconds or about 5,800 cars per day from both facilities! So getting back to that 10 per cent production increment Maruti Suzuki are working on a year on year basis, there just can’t be any quality or quantity hiccups. In fact both are not negotiable at all in the industry leader’s gameplan and all the manufacturing magic rather lies in logical planning and efficient and timely execution. Two vital details that will of course be added on to the firm’s third all-new plant being set up in Gujarat. Hitting the million mark twice in a year now seems within reach! L
JUST THE LENGTH OF THE CONVEYORS IN THE ASSEMBLY HALLS AT BOTH PLANTS TOTALS SLIGHTLY IN EXCESS OF TEN
Bottom left: Superb training means Maruti technicians make a complex job look effortless. Bottom right: Maruti Suzuki produces a staggering 1.5 million cars annually