The nation's largest carmaker is now aiming at doing away with manual labour for certain production functions in its manufacturing plants. The decision to introduce 99% automation in the press and weld fucntions will bring Maruti Suzuki's Manesar operations on par with its highly advanced plants in Japan. MM Singh, COO (Production), Maruti Suzuki explained that this decision comes in the wake of the need of consistency in the quality of their cars.
Maruti Suzuki had started the process of automation quite a long time back, but it was quite subtle back then. To back this claim are the statistics which say that this firm doubled the number of robots used in its operations to about 1,500 in ten years. And it has also been gathered that they will add 50-100 more robots in the older Manesar plant to raise the level of automation to 99% from the current 90%. However, there is no information about till when will they complete this process.
This move doesn't really surprise, since the labour related violence at its Manesar plant on July 18 left caused the death of a senior manager, and left many employees seriously injured. Given the fact that Maruti employs over 10,000 permanent employees and contract manufacturers, their concern is genuine. Ever since the unfortunate incident, they have considered several options to keep human intervention minimal as they go about modernising the Indian operations. They also aim at keeping contract labour at bay, and will take on only permanent employees in core manufacturing areas.
Labour issues apart, automation did not only help Swift and Dzire become segment leaders, it also made A-Star their largest selling export model. All in all, in the face of such stiff competition, it is of paramount importance that Maruti Suzuki invests in advanced technology like automation to improve quality and reduce their dependence on manual labour.