5th AMS India focused on improving efficiencies and skilled workforce

Managing changing consumer demands, skills shortages and supply chains has proved challenging to OEMs manufacturing in India, as this year’s AMS conference revealed
The 5th AMS India conference has attracted a strong line-up of speakers from both vehicle makers and tier suppliers. Despite difficulties with a slowing economy (albeit still growing) and unrest with the workforce, the outlook was positive for the coming year. However, some challenges still need to overcome if India is to develop its position as a global vehicle-manufacturing hub. Vinay Patil, Deputy General Manager (manufacturing operations), GM India, highlighted a number of areas. One concern is that there is currently a gap between safety practices in Indian plants and the global manufacturing benchmark, something that needs to be bridged to improve conditions and productivity, explained Mr Patil. He also felt that in India there was a shortage of skilled, experienced IT and production team managers. The issues of costs and quality could be addressed with more localisation and the application of global standards.
Lack of government support, little investment in R&D, and limited electric and electronic suppliers were problems for Indian OEMs, highlighted by Pranab Ghosh of Tata Motors. Given that the automotive industry’s turnover represented 5 per cent of India’s GDP, he felt that focusing on growth, improving efficiencies and developing a skilled workforce were important factors for the country’s economy. Mr Ghosh pointed out the need for OEMs to address the rising cost of fuel and look seriously at downsising models. Manufacturing plants should be innovative in their design, utilising renewable energy sources, maximising the use of vertical space and creating space for suppliers on or near the site to improve the supply chain. He also called for a standardised approach to training automotive workers to help create a pool of appropriately skilled workers, which would be needed as the size the automotive sector grows. Ghosh explained that Tata was very active in education and skills training in the communities around its production facilities, many of who have benefited go on to be employed by the company.
Representing Roland Berger consultants, Rajiv Bajaj provided an overview of the Indian automotive sector. Discussing future economic growth, he pointed to issues with inflation and pressure on the Indian currency as possible limiting factors. On a positive note, Mr Bajaj suggested that India was expected to be the fastest growing market for commercial vehicles over the next decade and although the market had slowed the passenger car segment was well placed for growth.

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