There was a tool making company in Kolkata in my days. It used to go to each Hanover EMO fair. Mr. Chatterji, the owner told me that he exported the sophisticated products to some German company that put its own brand on it with ‘Made in Germany’ stamp and supplied to OEMs. In one of my visit to UK, I saw a similar thing with Alfred Herbert capstan and turret lathes that the parent company was importing from India, getting some final touch up done and selling as ‘Made in UK’. Till very late, the West had an allergy for the “Made in India” tag.
However, a lot of water has gone down the holy Ganga. Today, India is no more untouchable even in manufacturing items. India boasts of 16 companies that have won the Deming Award from the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers, 92 companies that have been awarded TPM (total productivity management) certificates from the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance, and 21,313 ISO-certified companies. And most of the reputed global auto manufacturers and even white goods and brown goods manufacturers have set up its manufacturing plants in India. Many have even its R&D centers in India.
In some sectors, India is better in manufacturing. As Surinder Kapur, chairman and managing director, Sona Koyo Steering Systems claims, “In the auto components industry, amongst China, India and Thailand, India is No. 1 on the quality of products supplied and multinational companies have begun to see the benefits of sourcing from India.”
General Motors and Caterpillar source radiator caps from Sundram Fasteners – the company has won GM’s best-supplier award for three years. GM sources light equipment from Lumax. Mitsubishi of Japan sources front-axle beams from Bharat Forge and Federal Mogul of the US sources components through a tie-up with the Anand group.
It all happened, because many Indian manufacturing companies learnt and adopted Japanese manufacturing practices. In late eighties, almost all major Japanese auto-manufacturers tried to come in India through collaborations with the local companies. Many of those joint ventures didn’t succeed, but Indians manufacturing sector, particularly the auto and auto components got exposed to the best practices of the Japanese industry.
Indians tried hand with quality circles, 5S, seven tools, TQC and then TQM. CII launched Total Quality Movement as early as in 1988 and also invited quality gurus such as Yoshikazu Tsuda and Shoji Shiba to train the key persons in the implementation of quality initiatives. Most of the Tier I and Tier II manufacturing companies in India today are practicing TQM and TPM.
CII has taken up the task of spreading the Kaizen (continuous improvement) movement among all the Indian manufacturing firms, both big and small to achieve global excellence. CII is also trying to compile the Kaizens (incremental changes) case stories. In January 2006, Surinder Kapur presented to PM, India’s 1,000 Kaizens that have been implemented. CII has committed to present 100,000 Kaizens to the Prime Minister over the next one year, thus building a knowledge base that will facilitate India’s journey to becoming the global factory. Indian manufacturing sector has also learnt to operate on lean manufacturing principle pioneered by Toyota Motors, and six sigma of GE, US.
Individual organisations are trying to build abilities not only to acquire but also innovate new technologies to reduce production costs, and to cut down delivery time to be globally competitive. Interestingly at least high end, manufacturing sector such as auto components, and auto are no more afraid of Chinese onslaught.
After all, achieving high levels of competitiveness and quality standards in manufacturing isn’t rocket science. What is required fundamentally is management’s decision to adopt good manufacturing practices. And Indian manufacturers have now the confidence to win the race lost once to Chinese, but it will not allow that to happen again. However, there is no room for complacence and six-sigma is quite far away.