Faced with an unprecedented demand for its cars and a limited capacity to produce them at its plants, the country's largest car-maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, has discovered a unique problem solver—its 7,500-odd employees.
The company's annual exercise to enhance performance has seen a spurt in suggestions from employees this year, with over 60,000 already logged. These are quality suggestions, and each would be implemented within this fiscal year, the company has said. Stand up and be counted
"We have observed that each year the cost saving arising out of these suggestions have gone up," said a company spokesperson. "What is even more heartening is that most of the suggestions come from ordinary shop-floor workers. Not only is this beneficial for the company, it also lends a sense of pride and significance to the employees as it shows that their voice is not only heard but is important for the company's progress."
Most of these suggestions relate to improving quality and reduce costs, ways to speed up operations, improve efficiencies of robots and streamline supplies. At times though, they may relate to direct consumer preferences that often bridge the gap between a Japanese and Indian consumer. After all, most of the Marutis on the roads today are still designed in Japan.
This year, most of the suggestions are centered on how the carmaker, which has a rated capacity of over a 1 million cars per annum, can make more cars without expanding capacity. In 2010-11, Maruti is aiming to manufacture at least 20 per cent more cars from the same facility — already operating at over 100 per cent capacity.
"It is almost like creating a new plant," said RC Bhargava, chairman, MSIL. "While a plant with 200,000 capacity entails a capital investment of R1500-2,000 crore, we will be producing these additional numbers at nominal investment".
Last year, the company made around 84,000 cars every month. In the first six months of this fiscal, it has produced over 6 lakh cars — an average of over a lakh vehicles per month. Domestic sales have gone up by 28 per cent in the same period.
From this month, the production target has been moved up another notch — 1.10 lakh cars a month. And Bhargava wants to maintain that for the rest of the year.
Driving the hopes of the country, or what?