I previously wrote about the efforts of Tata Motors in
And according to the Times,
If global manufacturers can figure out how to make small, cheap cars in
By the way, since my first article, Tata has named its new vehicle; it is called, appropriately, the People’s Car.
Of course, the key to making these cars successfully is making sure your production methods are as good as they can be – in other words, lean.
Part of that involves tossing aside old ways of thinking. The article says that
…manufacturers and suppliers will need “exceptional creativity and inventiveness,” Wolf-Henning Scheider, president of Robert Bosch’s gasoline services division, said in a speech in June. “Slimmed down versions of existing components and systems are not sufficient.”
Daryl T. Rolley, general manager for international operations at Ariba, a sourcing and procurement company working closely with Tata, agreed. “There are so many legacy costs built into a design, and trying to engineer those out is difficult,” he said. “It’s better to start with a clean sheet of paper and engineer low costs in.”
There is also some interesting description of an existing plant in
…inside Maruti’s gates, the company has created a self-sufficient, streamlined island: 4,700 Maruti employees work inside the gray buildings, as do at least as many employees of suppliers, whose warehouses and production plants ring Maruti’s main factories.
The site generates its own electricity and recycles its own water. Inside the main factory are all the materials the company needs for two hours of production at the current rate of one car built every 21 seconds. The nearby suppliers’ warehouses stock materials for hours more.
Maruti, which is still majority owned by Suzuki, has plans to increase its already highly automated process, with the goal of cutting its production time in half and trimming costs. Already, giant swiveling robots do much of the welding. Manpower is employed mostly to check for errors.
“We have made the entry for our competitors smoother,” Mr. Khattar of Maruti said.
I’m not clear on whether Maruti is actually involved in a lean approach or is simply focused on automation. I hope it is the former.
The article also notes there are concerns that rapid growth in the number of cars in
Now if lean concepts could be applied to address those problems, and not just manufacturing issues, that would truly be innovation.