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



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

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