IT innovations central to excellence in Indian auto sector

By : |October 30, 2006 0

NEW DELHI: Indian Information Technology (IT) strength is the key to enhancing productivity and competitiveness in the automotive industry in India as it is critical – from womb to tomb – stages of automobile manufacturing, said Chairman, Eicher Group, S Sandilya, at a seminar on "Leveraging IT for Excellence in Automotive Manufacturing" organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

"IT is very closely integrated in the automotive sector. It is used from the product concept and design stage to supply chain management, controlling manufacturing, maintenance ,after sales and CRM," he said. IT has been used for many years to improve quality and productivity.

India has emerged as an IT powerhouse and the automotive industry can learn a great deal from it, Mr. Sandilya said. IT could set an example for the automotive sector on globalization and human resources development. IT already accounted for a significant part of the cost of an automobile and this would only increase in future.

Information technology can help the automotive industry reduce costs and build brand awareness. “IT plays a critical role in integrating supply chains for the automotive sector, it is critical to enhancing value addition and competitiveness of this sector” said Executive Vice-President, Tata Consultancy Services Phiroz Vandrevala. IT can help raise driver and passenger safety as well.

IT is no longer the preserve of the large companies, said Deputy Managing Director, Zensar Technologies Limited, Ganesh Natarajan. An increasing number of small and medium enterprises are using IT to enhance their productivity. “We should exploit the telecom revolution to make IT services available to more SMEs. IT innovations are central to excellence in the Indian auto sector.”

SMEs can use IT in their sales and prospect funnels and improve business processes. However, stand-alone IT solutions are costly and therefore, solution-hosted applications are an answer for SMEs. These combine the power of IT enablement with the use of the internet and provide solutions on a shared-investment on a software as a service with pay-per-use model, Natarajan said.

Large companies like Maruti Udyog Ltd use IT extensively in their operations, said Chief General Manager (IT) and CIO, Maruti Udyog Limited, Rajesh Uppal. It helps synchronise demand and supply as well as business and knowledge management. “Maruti is planning to double its output to 1.2 million units by 2010 by commissioning a new plant in Manesar, Haryana.” The company will use IT to improve planning systems, supplier collaboration, customer relationships and logistics management, he said.

India is keen to position itself as a global hub for manufacturing automobiles and auto components, but is facing stiff competition from Turkey, Poland, China, Thailand and Mexico, IBM, PLM Practice Lead-India spokesperson, Shantanu Rai said . IT can help it to gain an edge over these countries.

A study of CEOs indicated that innovation on products and services was critical. It was also necessary to look at different business models to reduce capital costs. Technical solutions were needed to develop new products and market. “The primary focus is on innovation,” he said.

Other business drivers for the automotive industry were increasing consumer demand and an expanding regulatory environment, said Managing Director, Silicon Graphics Systems (India) Pvt Ltd., Prasad V. Medury. The sector was a benchmark for many industrial trends including simulation, development and technological migration.

Chief Information Officer, CII, Vikram Tiwathia, said a CII – Access Media International study on Information Risk Management (IRM) in the manufacturing sector indicated that 32 percent of companies surveyed agreed that information security is strategic to their business interests. He also said that CII is concentrating on enhancing the domestic consumption of IT products and services with a special focus on the SME -automobiles, pharma and textile segments. He emphasized the need for human capital development to meet the needs of this sector.

The automotive sector is set to become a $145 billion industry by 2016, said Director General of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, Dilip Chenoy. It will employ some 25 million additional people and it is a critical enabler, he added.

© CIOL Bureau

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