Plans to go global, enter new product lines

Our Bureau

Chennai, Nov. 2

Increasing investment in production, development and manufacturing engineering, enhancing availability of skilled manpower and keeping costs low are some of the focus areas for the Rane Group, according Mr L. Lakshman, Chairman, Rane Group of Companies.

Mr Lakshman, who is retiring as the Chairman of the auto components Group this year, was speaking to journalists on the Group's plans to emerge a global player.

"We will be able to compete with Japanese metal companies soon", he said.

The Group's asset productivity had gone up by 60 per cent over the last five years, indicating increased competitiveness and cost efficiency.

It has also implemented measures like total quality management to increase productivity.

New product lines

The Rane Group, which manufactures safety critical auto components, will also enter new product lines such as hydrostatic steering units and electric power steering. It is also evaluating options to set up overseas offices.

These measures would help the group to compete with other companies in the auto components sector.

To support these activities qualified manpower is essential.

Manpower crunch

When asked if the auto components industry was facing a shortage of manpower, he said, "Yes. Multinational companies are hiring professionals for high salaries," he said.

But such high salaries over a period would make the Indian industry lose out on its cost advantage, Mr Lakshman said.

Southern China, where rising wage costs had lead to production being stopped is an example. He said training was key to employee retention.

Focus on training

The Group has invested about Rs 7 crore to set up a training institute. Located in Perungudi, the Rane Institute for Employee Development will focus on technical and behavioural skills training.

Mr Lakshman said he would be involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) work of the Group. "So far our CSR work has been unstructured. I plan to formalise this and work on areas like low income group schools and village development," he said.

Mr Lakshman will continue as the Chairman of Rane (Holdings) Ltd and Rane Break Linings Ltd and head the Rane Data Centre for implementation of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning).

His brother Mr L. Ganesh, Vice Chairman, Rane Group of Companies, will head the Group as Chairman in future.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 3, 2006)
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