Interview | Lean Manufacturing | Six Sigma

ON FACE

“Indo-MIM has an American technology enriched in India.”
Indo-MIM is the World’s largest MIM company. The company has two manufacturing plants at Bangalore in India, spread over 40000 square metres. With customers spread over more than 35 countries in almost every business segment, it has its Sales Offices at USA, Germany and China. Indo-MIM is the single-stop solution provider for MIM, CIM, Ti-MIM, Investment Casting, Aerospace Precision Machining and Surface Treatments. It assures its customers of a relationship, that can last for life, through its dedicated sales and marketing organization as well as engineering support. \With the economies of scale, cost-effective solutions are an added advantage from IndoMIM grouo of companies. The second generation promoter of the company Krishna Chivukula Jr taken over as the President of Indo MIM this year, was elevated as the CEO of Indo MIM Group companies last month. He shares with the readers of MART the success behind Indo MIM’s manufacturing process, marketing, future plans and taking the company ahead to the next level.

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Krishna Chivukula Jr CEO, Indo-MIM

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1. Could you tell us more about yourself and when did your association start with Indo-MIM ? My father is the Chairman of Indo-MIM. I have been working at Indo-MIM since 2007. I came in from USA, during 2007 and took over as Director – Operations. Later, I was promoted as President – Indo-MIM and have been elevated to be the CEO of all the group companies of Indo-MIM, effective July, 2012. 2. Where do you see Indo-MIM in the next five years ? We are aiming for 1,000 – 1,200 Cr of turnover with a strong presence in medical and automotive segments. In 5 years we expect a 200 Cr to our topline from our Aero-space & Castings. 3. Can you give details about your work on lean, six sigma, kaizen and other various manufacturing techniques? Indo-MIM is a Lean Six Sigma and Kaizen focused company. Our journey started about 3 years ago, when we engaged the consultants Mr. Narayan Rao and Professor Mahesh Chinnagiri, who have collectively worked in Indian manufacturing for over 50 years. Mr. Narayan Rao has incredible expertise in imple-

menting lean management systems on the shop floor and is intimately familiar with how to implement various TPS concepts. Professor Mahesh Chinnagiri is a member of the Indian Statistical Institute and runs an in-depth and comprehensive Six Sigma black belt training program in Bangalore. Developing good improvement programs was tough, and required patience. The concepts were new, and even our senior managers had a tough time figuring out how to apply them. So, we did the obvious – trained all senior managers in operations to be come six sigma black belts and made them an intimate part of the Kaizen process. The senior operating management of a company need not become experts in these tools, but they have develop a deep enough understanding to direct their application and know when the are being miss-applied. I am the CEO, but I am also a certified Six-Sigma black belt and have attended numerous kaizen blitzes. Our initial Kaizen efforts we focused on various types of waste elimination, but we quickly extended them to include the development of work-cells for

production and achieving single piece flow in as many operations as possible. Single-piece flow is a very powerful lean concept with many applications on the shop floor. Proper application of it in the context of a work cell will immediately improve per person productivity by 20-25% while simultaneously improving quality. With additional work on cell operations and single piece flow to double productivity and in many cases improve it by a factor of 3 to 4. That sounds incredible, but it is true. However, improved throughput is just one of the benefits of single piece flow. Moving your operations away from batch processes towards flow operations will yield many other benefits such as; reduced inventory; ability to spot quality problems before to much WIP is processed; ability to focus engineers attention on quality problems faster due to less WIP; easy prioritization of fixture and gauge improvements because the cell makes bottleneck operations visible; easier manpower planning by supervisors, lets reliance on throwing manpower at problems; and most importantly helps instill critical thinking and

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analytic skills in junior level supervisors and operators! Fortunately, Mr. Narayan Rao was able to guide our thinking and development in these areas with very practical kaizen events that allowed us to make progress fast. Indo-MIM’s initial Six Sigma efforts focused on scrap reduction and improving the capability of manufacturing processes. Over the past 3 years we have trained over 45 Six Sigma black belts and well over 100 green belts. All process owners are black belts and many of them are ASQ certified. In any given year we will run anywhere from 10 to 20 blackbelt projects and perhaps 30 green belt projects. All projects run through a Six Sigma steering committed comprised of ASQ certified black

belts and senior managers (of course many of the senior manager also passed the ASQ as well). These projects go through a thorough mentoring process which is guided and directed by Professor Mahesh Chinnagiri. He also conducts the black-belt and green-belt training classes alongside other faculty selected by him. Lean Manufacturing proposes a platform to ensure that inventories are maintained low in the company. Ideally, Zero Inventory is the best, but is not possible given the lead times for manufacturing products and minimum batch quantities required for certain processes. Hence, systems such as “Kanban” are applied here. He helped us form teams, and identify projects, where the principles of these proven techniques

“We are proud to call ourselves a Lean Six Sigma & Kaizen company, and have had some significant achievements in various projects, that have helped us to offset the rising energy and overhead costs, and meet the targets given to us by our global customers.”

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could be applied. A few quick successes encouraged the members of the team to understand the benefits of Kaizen, and then they accelerated their journey. Today, after 3 years of this journey, we definitely feel that the steps that we took about 3 years back, were quite useful. We are proud to call ourselves a Lean Six Sigma & Kaizen company, and have had some significant achievements in various projects, that have helped us to offset the rising energy and overhead costs, and meet the targets given to us by our global customers. The shop floor, today, has visual boards like Kanban boards, 6S score boards, and other visuals that keep the visitor as well as the employees aware of the important trends in the factory. This helps to monitor the processes through alerts

and signals, thereby ensuring the waste is minimized and enables the plant to run “Lean”. Visual control is an important lean concept and I think that we have been quite rigorous in our implementation of these visual control systems throughout the factory. Kaizen workshops are a regular activity now at Indo-MIM. There is a co-ordinator identified, who leads this initiative at both the plants. He, together with the Operations team, identifies a few projects for focus of Kaizen, and then executes them, with a final presentation and display of the Kaizen after its implementation. The time line for this activity is one week, within which all the Kaizens are

completed. This has now become the culture at Indo-MIM, which makes all the employees follow it as a routine in all their respective places of work. The team members are suitably rewarded, which helps to keep their morale high. In fact, Indo-MIM has also sent their teams to various customer places in Kaizen competitions, and won awards for their work and presentations. The common chord that runs throughout the company, starting from the top management to the operators at the shop floor, is the hunger to learn something new and remain a step ahead in the race. This is one of the main reasons that an organization, like Indo-MIM, which is the youngest aerospace companies in India, is still able to offer a combination of some unique services in India. The final

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aim of Indo-MIM is to be a pioneer in the industry to offer high precision aerospace machining. 4. How do these techniques practically support better manufacturing? Kaizen Blitz reduces non-value added activities, which significantly reduce manpower costs. They can also dramatically improve product quality which reduces COPQ. Six Sigma can be a very powerful tool to increase process capability. Improved process capability reduces, rework, scrap, and customer complaints. 5. Can you give information about the location of group companies and your business configuration – domestic/ exports ? Indo-MIM group has three main business groups: MIM, Investment Casting, Aerospace Product Group. Both MIM and Aerospace Product group are located at Bangalore, in India, whereas Investment Casting is located at Tirupati, which is about 250 kms. away from Bangalore.

The investment casting business was launched in 2009 under the name Gowri Ventures. India has been a favourable destination for the aviation industry and hence, availability of all these capabilities under one umbrella is a great benefit for the aviation customers who are setting up their plants or Sourcing offices in India. Majority of foreign customer representatives, who have visited the plants of Indo-MIM have made such comments and have shown interest in working with Indo-MIM group of companies. 6. What are your focus industries in the market ? We are focused on component manufacturing in automotive, medical, and consumer applications. The MIM technology is very versatile which allows us to to parts across multiple segments. The emphasis is on part complexity. If the parts are complex then there is potential for using the MIM application.

7. Other manufacturing groups and details ? Indo-MIM is the World’s largest MIM company. The company has two manufacturing plants at Bangalore in India, spread over 40000 square metres. With customers spread over more than 35 countries in almost every business segment, it has its Sales Offices at USA, Germany and China. Further, it has sales representatives at various other important locations like Turkey, France, Czech Republic, Israel, Japan, Korea, and Singapore. The company has developed over 2000 varieties of parts in all types of ferrous metals, as per customer drawings. The average development lead time of Indo-MIM is about 8 ~ 10 weeks, and bulk production lead time is 4~ 6 weeks. Capacity is not a constraint at this plant. The company believes in re-investing ahead of project orders, so that the customer projects need not wait for their launches for want of capacity at the
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supplier end. This philosophy had helped Indo-MIM to succeed in expanding its business by over 80 times within the last decade. The main pillars of success at Indo-MIM are its people and their passion. The average age of people working at IndoMIM is about 28 years. With a young and dynamic team at work, Indo-MIM has always welcomed challenges across its various business units. Working hand-inhand with the customer has been always the topmost priority for Indo-MIM. Gowri Ventures is the other group company of Indo-MIM, that is engaged in manufacturing investment casting parts for its global customers. The very thought of putting up this plant, was envisaged owing to customer requests for supporting them with higher weight

parts. With MIM technology, Indo-MIM was not able to meet the requirements of its global customers of 5 or 10 kilogram parts. This is when it was decided to put up a Greenfield project to manufacture precision investment castings. This plant was put up at Tirupati, which is about 250 kms. from Bangalore. Within 12 months of putting up the plant, it could get certified with all the requisite certifications like ISO 9001, ISO 14001, AS 9100 Rev.C, and OHSAS 18001. The team leaders who were instrumental in setting up the plant were all the people who had been with Indo-MIM for a long time. A UK citizen, who had been working in an Investment Casting foundry for more than 30 years was brought in to get the production streamlined.

Today, the plant has developed more than 150 varieties of diverse components for global customers from USA, Europe and India. The names include some of the Fortune 500 companies and a few market leaders in their respective segments. Gowri owes all its success to its people and their commitment. Gowri has the aviation certification that has helped it to enter some prestigious companies in aviation industry. The Aerospace Product Group is the most recent launch of Indo-MIM. This group encompasses capabilities spread over precision machining as per aviation standards as well as surface treatment and painting capabilities. The division is certified for AS 9100 Rev.C certificate and is gearing up for the NADCAP audit

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during the coming months. A special care was taken while putting up this plant, to ensure that all the right equipments are selected which will meet the stringent Aerospace standards. This has helped the division to successfully pass through all the audits that some of the global aviation group companies have conducted at their shop floor. Systems are in place and the documentation is efficient. Some of the large engine OEM’s have approved this division and already begun their procurement from the Aerospace product group of IndoMIM. Considering the exclusive focus that India is giving on aviation industry business development and setting up of infrastructure for it, this step from Indo-MIM has been considered very significant in view of the future business scenario. 8. R&D and new product developments? Indo-MIM has an American technology enriched in India. This is because the plant was set-up in the year 1997 as a Joint Venture (JV) with a large MIM company from USA. Later, the stake of this American company in the JV was taken over by the Indian counterpart. Hence,

all the development was required to be done in India. Inhouse R & D has been one of its great assets. Young engineers have been at the forefront of the R & D and new product development initiatives. IndoMIM manufactures its own feedstock in the in-house Compounding section. This allows the customer to get tailor-made materials as per their requirements.

Indo-MIM has now added Ceramic Injection Molding and Titanium Injection Molding to its capabilities, by virtue of its R & D efforts. There are exclusive equipments that have been ordered to harness this capability. Some initial orders have been received from the existing customers, while the marketing team is now focusing on gathering orders from some new global customers who have exclusive Ceramic and Titanium requirements. With the addition of these two capabilities, Indo-MIM becomes the single-stop solution provider for MIM, CIM, Ti-MIM, Investment Casting, Aerospace Precision Machining and Surface Treatments. It assures its customers of a relationship, that can last for life, through its dedicated sales and marketing organization as well as engineering support. With the economies of scale, cost-effective solutions are an added advantage from Indo-MIM grouo of companies. 9. Your take on current market scenario – domestic/ exports? Overall, the global economy is very uncertain right now. However, we are still seeing decent demand in all regions.

Mike Lutheran (left), President of the Metal Powder Industries Federation, presents the Design Excellence Award 2011 44
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