Maruti Suzuki aims to automate process to minimise human involvement in manufacturing process

Wednesday 05 September 2012, 11:59 AM by

Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), the largest car maker in India, is aiming at doing away with the manual labour and automating certain production functions at its Manesar plants. The car maker is expecting to take the level of its operations to the standards of the top-notch manufacturing plants of the parent company, Suzuki Motor in Hamamatsu, Japan. Under this initiative the company will automate 99 per cent of process in the press shop at the Manesar and Gurgaon plants.

Maruti Suzuki aims to automate process to minimise human involvement in manufacturing process |
Maruti Suzuki aims to automate process to minimise human involvement

Chief Operating Officer (COO), Production, MSIL, M.M. Singh, said, “We gradually plan to automate our plants in India to bring consistency in the quality of our cars. We have already started the process at Manesar's first plant to take automation to the maximum possible 99% level, where the press and weld operations would be on par with the second (manufacturing) facility,”

Incidentally, Maruti Suzuki had started the automation process a while back and in last ten years it has doubled the number of automating machines to 1,500 in its plants. The company is now aiming at adding 50-100 new machines to the existing count, at the Manesar plant. However, there has been no revelation from company's side regarding the estimated date of completion of the project. It has already enhanced the automation at its plants in Gurgaon to 60-65 per cent over last few years.

It comes as no surprise that the auto marque is so keen upon automating the process considering the series of turbulence it has faced owing to the worker's strike in 2011 and the recent violent rift at Manesar plant. There are around 10,000 permanent employees and contract workers on the pay roll of the car maker. However, the company has been mulling over alternatives to reduce the human involvement and modernising the factories. Notably, Maruti Suzuki produces over 50 per cent of the Suzuki Motor's production worldwide.

After having burnt its hand with the contract labour in the recent conflict, the company has been shying away from the same with more emphasis upon permanent employees. The move to automate the procedure is also the need of the hour for the car maker in the wake of the fierce competition. It will only help the brand to improve the quality of its existing line-up.

According to a senior Maruti Suzuki executive, “While older models like M800 and Alto are simpler cars to manufacture, the new generation models like Swift, A-Star or Ritz are more complex and need much improved technology and process. Besides, automation is also cost-effective as investment is duly recovered over a period of time unlike the spiralling labour costs.”

Other car makers in the country who have already automated their processes in the country include Hyundai, Ford and Volkswagen. The car manufacturing plants in India require input of five workers to produce a single cars and there are around 1.5 crore workers associated directly or indirectly with the automobile and parts manufacturers.

According to a senior executive, Hyundai Motor, “All our new cars are manufactured with strong technology intervention. Our new global fluidic designs are crafted through highly automated operations to churn out specific shapes to our cars that can only be managed through robots,”

Coming back to the Maruti Suzuki India Limited, the car maker seems to have learnt from the grotesque incidents, which accrued massive amount of losses. The automation of the processes will not only reduce the risk of anything like Manesar incident but also offer a better quality to its customers. It is a classic win-win situation for both the buyer and the seller.

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