Auto focus

Hitting the sweet spot in manufacturing and IT

MURALI GOPALAN | Updated on January 23, 2018

Going strong: Passion is what keeps the MESTECH team going with automotive projects across India.

Pune-based MESTECH is adding new auto customers to its portfolio

Saurabh Jain had no idea about Chennai when he joined MESTECH four years ago. Today, as Business Manager in charge of the company’s automotive business, he feels completely at home in the city.

Jain quit a cushy job at Tata Motors along with his colleague, Divya Mishra, to take a chance with a new venture co-founded by 41-year-old Vaidee Sampathkumar. As he recalls, “I was handling nearly 25 auto suppliers at Tata Motors and there is a certain power that comes with the job. When I joined this company, I found myself on the other side and realised it was time to change my attitude and build a new set of skills.”

Mishra, in his turn, believes that it was a good decision to move out of Tata Motors where he had spent years working across different locations. As Business Manager of MESTECH who handles the Pune, Indore and China automotive business, the last four years have been a tremendous learning experience for him.

He quickly ramped up the team to 12 professionals and worked on creating a good work environment.

Both Jain and Mishra were literally groomed at the Tata Nano project which Sampathkumar (who had worked in a US-based company) maintains is the birthplace of manufacturing IT innovation and technology in India’s automotive arena. In a way, this was also the reason for creating MESTECH where the idea is to collaborate with automakers and help them improve their manufacturing process using information technology.

Growing momentum

Over the four years, the Pune-based MESTECH has rapidly built its customer base which, for reasons of confidentiality, Sampathkumar just cannot divulge. There are some clues thrown in during the conversation like a well known truck player in the south and yet another in the west but it does not go beyond that. The momentum has now led to creating a team of nearly 100 people who have their hands full with a host of projects.

The inspiration for MESTECH was in acknowledging the reality that the auto sector was heading towards mass customisation. This meant shorter intervals in launching products/variants in the same plant/assembly line while ensuring costs were in check. As Sampathkumar says, this mass customisation was also a result of plants in emerging countries catering to global needs.

Such variations, he adds, will need higher level of skills on the line side which will increase cost and could lead to errors and complications in machine code in automated work stations.

This is where automakers need manufacturing execution systems (MES) and IT systems. However, the challenge is specific type of systems which are difficult to design and deliver as on one side it is interacting with ERP/PLM (software) and with equipment (electrical) on the other.

Tech talent

In India, MESTECH has implemented MES for two large commercial vehicle plants, four engine manufacturing plants, and two large passenger car manufacturing plants. Outside India, says Sampathkumar, it has done consulting for world leading manufacturers in Japan, China and in the US in luxury car manufacturing plants, battery manufacturing lines and cylinder head manufacturing lines.

Sampathkumar focuses on business development and lets the youngsters handle the delivery side. “We had to do so many projects and need independent people to handle customers. The key was to build the team and identify talent which was not easy,” he says. Things have clearly moved on since then and Jain manages this important customer which accounts for nearly 25 per cent of MESTECH’s business. He has a team of 15 people and is the face for software, installation etc at the Chennai facility. Mishra takes care of other automotive projects across the country while Kunal Bangabash, another key member, works on the sales side and builds business/new initiatives in the auto space.

Heramb Lele, Technical Lead responsible for delivery, was in Germany for six years before coming to India and beginning work at MESTECH. “Vaidee gives a free hand to people and guides them till they are on their own,” he says referring to the work style within to which his boss laughingly responds, “Heramb likes to eat on roadside shops which he does not get to do in Germany!”

On a more serious note, Sampathkumar says it takes time to develop talent and the challenge now is retain it. “We want this to be a family where people are happy to be part of this culture. The biggest driver here is passion,” he says.

Published on April 02, 2015

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