The Supply Chain & Operations Club of VGSoM, IIT Kharagpur, visited TATA Motors Ltd. Tatanagar plant

 | October 23,2012 05:22 pm IST

In continuation with the Industrial Visit series of SCOPE, The Supply Chain & Operations Club of VGSoM, IIT Kharagpur, a group of 20 odd students accompanied by Faculty Advisor of SCOPE Prof. Ashutosh Sarkar and a few research scholars visited TATA Motors Ltd (Tatanagar plant) on September 15, 2012 and interacted with the management of the company.

The interaction was quite detailed and students were given a brief overview of the entire operations of the plant as how the commercial vehicles manufactured are being assembled and were in detailed shown the various phases of assembly lines. Q&A was quite encouraging & informative and students were guided about the entire supply chain about the automobile industry. It was indeed a very enriching experience. We would like to express our sincere thanks to our students and regards to TATA Motors management to make this happen and giving students a life time opportunity to learn at their establishment.

More learnings from the visit:
The Tatanagar plant of TATA Motors has 50 odd different truck models and their production lines. Some are high in demand while the rest are not. This is the reason why they modularised the pattern of truck designs. Sheet metal for the manufacturing of trucks arrives from TATA Steel, Shyam Steel, JSW, Bhushan Steel etc. which are the major suppliers.

TATA Motors has a particular supply schedule which they share with the suppliers. There is: Monthly Schedule, Weekly Schedule and a 3-day Drop-In Schedule. The last one is the Frozen schedule; like the order that TML has put in on a 3-day window and is committed not to tamper with that order; the supplier is also taken for granted that they will definitely have enough inventory with them to keep providing 3-day drop in. Apart from that , other schedules are indicative in nature including the Annual Business Plan. They have half yearly reviews; this year they are planning to drop their Annual target for JSR Commercial vehicle line from 1.60 Lakh to 95k as there is an unexpected slump in the market.

The students were also explained how TML select suppliers. The trick is that supplier selection for such a niche segment is rather easy as no much players are there in India with the capability of producing automotive-grade sheet metals. But for other sections the system that TML follows is like:

RFI(request for info) --> RFQ(--Supplier comes up with their quote--) --> Based on that TML engineers visit multiple supplier plants or study their process documents --> TML has an efficient world class Price Panel which (based on the processes described in the document) do a process costing and provide their own suggestions or cross-quotes to the supplier --> This has an extension; Automobile designs are dynamic in nature, depending on demand designs for various parts get changed --> suppliers or providers of these parts many a times find it difficult to come up with efficient technology so as to meet the TML specs --> in those cases, Price Panel helps the supplier by fixing which technology at which price should the supplier use so as to fall within the TML demanded price tag --> After this whoever wins the bid, starts supplying based on the contract terms --> post-supplier selection TML uses VQR (Vendor Quality Rating) based on 4 prime aspects which must be acounted for while purchasing auto-subparts.

The youngsters from VGSoM were shown all the action in the TATA Motors plant and the future managers were also exposed to the world-renowned Tata Motors methodology of Lean Production i.e. procurement of raw materials in small lots from nearby vendors. It is expected that students of VGSoM will continue benefiting from the wisdom of Tata Motors professionals, and be inspired to do well in their corporate careers.