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Lean manufacturing the Maruti way

S Ronendra Singh | Updated on March 09, 2018 Published on May 22, 2014

Efficient excellenceThe Maruti Suzuki plant at Gurgaon, Haryana. BothGurgaon and Manesar plants follow the MACE programme. KAMAL NARANG

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Streamlining systems and reducing waste for efficient production

Poka-yoke in Japanese means mistake-proofing and it is followed whole heartedly in the lean manufacturing industry, not only in their land, but in India too.

And, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL), the country’s largest passenger cars manufacturer is been following the same system since its inception in 1984, in order to improve its productivity and lesser defects in the products.

With the advent of recalls and its exports to global markets, the company has become stricter in terms of maintaining quality standards, not only in its plants in Guragaon and Manesar in Haryana, but to its vendors too, so that the components that the company get is par with its demand. Therefore, it started a programme called Maruti Centre for Excellence (MACE) – involving 21 of its component vendors -- to replicate best practices from shopfloor of MSIL which translates into better quality and better productivity.

Aiming for excellence

MACE was started with a corpus fund of ₹10 crore from MSIL and the vendors contributing ₹25 lakh each and identified areas where the vendors can improve in quality on global levels and also follow some parameters of operations.

Headed by IV Rao, Managing Executive Officer - Engineering and Head of R&D, the company helps the suppliers deploy lean processes to improve productivity and reduce resource wastages. There are four main activities -- training, audit, implementation and up-gradation of smaller vendors who supply to these tier-I suppliers so that the quality is maintained in the chain of products.

Based on some basic requirements, MSIL decides on certain topics and train both blue collared as well as the white collared employees in the vendors’ factories. Then, the team audits which quality systems are to be followed in every operation. For every operation, there is a prescribed ways of doing it as the quality standard is the backbone of the company in how it operates.

Lean, mean efficiency

It is the implementation of lean manufacturing system at its vendors -- based on what Maruti has in-house production systems -- based on Suzuki Motor Japan and Toyota Quality Management (TQM), which means improving the productivity, eliminating the waste and reducing the defects.

The company through implementing lean manufacturing systems has 720 projects completed so far for productivity improvement, quality, inventory control and energy conservation. MACE has worked with 146 tier-II vendors for overall improvement in performance resulting in reduction in rejections from 10,933 to 1,180 products per month and defect reduction from 432 to 146 per month.

However, while the tier-I suppliers have developed the art of such productivity, the company has a big task now, which is, to enable similar trend in the tier-II and tier-III suppliers and even the smaller vendors.

“Right now, we feel that tier-II are the weaker links in the supply chain and therefore, we are now working along with tier-I suppliers to basically implement lean manufacturing again,” Rao said.

That is why the company has also started clusters consisting of about 10-12 suppliers, all supplying to a tier-I and have made counsellors to work all with all those smaller vendors to figure out what is going wrong on a daily basis.

‘Zero rejection’

But, the task doesn’t end there too, especially when such smaller vendors have more of contractual workers.

Rao said one of the major issues Maruti is facing is with the ratio of regular to contract workers who are actually working on production lines with tier-I and tier-II and therefore trying to implement the pokai-yoke method.

“It means if we feel a particular process or operation, is critical for quality, we install devices, which will give audio or visual alarms and the person working there gets alerted that something wrong is happening.”

Therefore, it prevents from something totally wrong is happening beforehand. For example, if a worker has to pick up a part amongst various types of parts and if he picks up a wrong part, there will be an alarm. Therefore, he knows he has to change the part and pick up the right part, Rao explained.

Through such programmes, many of its vendors have now got ‘zero rejection’ in its parts and wastage is also controlled. For example, part of the MACE since its inception, Superfine Components is been supplying parts to MSIL with zero rejection, continuously over the last three years.

Going forward, the company would work more under the MACE programme, not only for its vendors, but for overall small scale industry in the manufacturing lines.

To begin with, MSIL has already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), mandating the 35 counsellors of MACE to go to the factories and companies, and suggest how to implement certain processes.

MACE has also become part of Quality Council of India for such activities and has tied up with Kaizen Institute India in Ahmedabad, Gujarat to spread such activities in Western and Southern parts of the country, from only doing at Guragon-Manesar belt, Rao added.

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Published on May 22, 2014
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