By Charles Arthur and Sophie Nedlin
Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Mahipal Gupta, Chief Managing Director at Autolite (India) Ltd, applies this saying to his experience with Uday Pride, an automotive component supplier development programme funded by India's Ministry of Heavy Industries and run by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in collaboration with the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA).
Gupta said, “During the Uday Pride programme journey, we have learned to redefine our pattern of thought to bring quality to our thoughts, work and systems. On behalf of the Autolite team, we are very thankful to the UNIDO-ACMA team for their continuous support throughout the journey. It was a wonderful experience to transform into a better organization.”
The programme captures insights and experiences from a long-standing partnership beginning in 1999 - with funding from the Government of India and with initial support from the Italian automobile manufacturer Fiat.
Today, the automotive component industry in India contributes over two percent of India’s Gross Domestic Product and employs around one and half million people directly and about the same number indirectly.
The present Uday Pride programme aims to strengthen the capacities of small and medium-sized automotive component producers to meet the stringent quality requirements of vehicle manufacturers. India is the world's fifth-largest car market, with annual sales of three million vehicles, according to industry estimates. But the country is also emerging as a global hub for sourcing automotive components for key automotive markets like south-east Asia, Japan, Korea and Europe.
Specifically, the Uday Pride programme facilitates small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the sector to overcome challenges related to low productivity, and insufficient and inconsistent quality, as well as scalability issues, resulting in SMEs becoming more efficient, reliable and cost-effective suppliers, thus facilitating their inclusion in domestic and global automotive supply chains.
The current Uday Pride programme (2019-2022) focuses on productivity and innovation. It targets 275 companies through shop-floor intervention counselling training, along with lighter e-learning online courses across the country.
One example is the Pantnagar cluster in Uttarakhand state in northern India, involving five supplier companies for Tata Motors. These companies completed the programme in March 2021.
Anal Vijay Singh, Plant Head of Tata Motors Pantnagar, said that he was left speechless on seeing the improvements achieved by the cluster companies under the guidance of KPS Raghuvanshi’s expert ACMA-UNIDO team.
N. Vinayagam, Plant Head at ACEY Engineering, one of the supplier companies, expressed his thanks to the Tata Motors team and ACMA-UNIDO for the valuable guidance, which improved many structural processes. He explained, “The system of store management was not so robust earlier, as there was no recording of inventory. The ACMA-UNIDO cluster programme helped us to bring a change in our store systems.”
Vinayagam continued, “All of our departments should work in a systemized manner where we optimize all available resources. To achieve this, we have joined the next ACMA-UNIDO cluster programme.”
Anurag Verma, Head Supplier at Tata Motors, congratulated all the participating companies for their efforts and the results achieved. He said, “I appreciate the team involvement and the high enthusiasm throughout the cluster. All companies should sustain and improve further with the help of the knowledge they gathered from Raghuvanshi’s team.”
Under the leadership of Nilu Singh, a female counsellor for the Pantnagar auto component cluster, the companies have also shown greater interest in women’s empowerment and inclusion. In general, the participation of women in the automotive component industry is low, but 30-40% of the workforce employed with the companies in the Pantnagar cluster are women.
“The companies have received huge benefits from hiring female employees,” said Singh. “For instance, hiring women as moulding operators has led to an increase in productivity of 5% and about 50% of suggestions are provided by female employees. Also, there has been an overall improvement in discipline.”
Jagjot Kaur works at the reception desk in Jai Hind Auto Tech Industries in Pantnagar. According to Kaur, “The Uday Pride cluster programme has made a significant impact on the work culture of the organization and also towards the empowerment of women.” She said that her managers have provided her with an opportunity to upgrade her skills through training, which helped her advance to a bigger role in the company.
Rama Mahar is also another beneficiary of the Uday Pride training programme. She explained, “The company has provided me the best culture for work and safety for women. I have also been involved in the Uday Pride basic cluster programme. In my view, the programme has played a vital role for women’s encouragement and empowerment.” Mahar has been able to upgrade her skills with the training programme and now works as a Line Leader in the Assembly/Pre-Delivery Inspection department.