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Achieving Manufacturing Excellece in India

Palaniappan P, Senior Vice President & Business Head of Mahindra & Mahindra; Mahindra Powerol, India will be sharing a case study at the Manufacturing Excellence Forum in India on "Leveraging on Total Quality Management (TQM) to Develop a Symbiotic Partnership in Achieving Manufacturing Excellence". Here, in this interview, we explore his views on achieving manufacturing excellence.

What is the biggest challenge faced by manufacturing leadership in achieving global standard of manufacturing excellence?
With reference to Indian context, I envisage that Indian industry would be competitive for tapping variety and medium scale opportunities. We have evolved or developed this competency due to our dependence on domestic market. India is uniquely poised to be the design and validation hub for the world. Thanks to our talent pool we can design and develop products; validate in the domestic market; and market them in global markets.

While this looks like an encouraging prospect, it poses several challenges for manufacturing. The biggest challenge however; is the ability to quickly build (either develop/pool/harness) capabilities to customise a product for a particular market and deliver as per the quality expectations of the market.  We would be require quickly forming teams of capable people, executing the project, capture the learnings and move on to new challenges.

As Mahindra Powerol was recently awarded Deming Prize, while your parent company was awarded JQM some years back, what advice can you provide to achieve global award winning TQM and saves cost during the whole manufacturing process?
One learning that I would like to share with others is, a lot of time should also be spent on analysing the product flow vs. information flow and then plan partnerships for efficient execution. Capture the lessons across the value-chain to tap improvement opportunities.

What is the biggest threat in achieving manufacturing excellence in your sector and what is the most common mistake manufacturers make that affects their performance?
Loss of Talent is the biggest threat towards achieving manufacturing excellence. And the most common mistake that a business makes some times is that of relegating manufacturing to not so competent human resources.

In India manufacturing industry, what one needs to do to stay competitive?
In my opinion Manufacturing should relentlessly assess the fit of capability sets with the value that the business offers to customer; to remain competitive. If current manufacturing capability set is not offering the promised value to customer then there is an opportunity to optimise cost/resources/develop new capabilities. If the current capability set is delivering over and above the promised value to customer then it should be monetised in the form of new products or intellectual property.

How far is India in the journey to world class manufacturing and how can India manufacturing compete with other country like China in the global scale?
My assessment is that India cannot and should not compete with China on scale; it should compete on front of flexibility, variety and agility. If one considers this as parameters of assessment then there would be many examples of excellence.

Which companies/industries in India that you look at as the best in manufacturing benchmark right now and why?
I can speak with some credence on discrete manufacturing. With the phased opening up of Indian economy, Tier 1 OEMs like Automotive businesses have already reached world class manufacturing standards. Our parent - Mahindra is one of such OEMs. Tier 2 OEMs like Bharat Forge have developed competitive advantages in Forgings to diversify into new segments like Defence, Oil & Gas and Power.

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