In the last few years, manufacturing enterprises have accelerated their efforts in implementing various digital transformation initiatives to remain competitive. Use cases range from improving efficiency to workforce productivity & safety to gaining better insights.
Among others, one of the major ongoing digital transformation projects within Tata Motors is the digitisation of the manufacturing ecosystem. The company, which is among the largest automobile manufacturers in India, is identifying areas where digital interventions would shorten the cycle time, improve data visibility, improve overall efficiency and also enhance the quality and safety aspects of the manufacturing process.
To leverage Industry 4.0, Tata Motors is focusing on four major aspects:
1. Data integration
The organisation is looking at the real-time data integration of tracking both material and process parameters. The closer Tata Motors get to tracking these parameters real time, the faster and more efficient its manufacturing processes will become.
2. Identification and capture of the process data
The manufacturer is also identifying and capturing quality, safety and throughput data at different aspects of the manufacturing ecosystem. “This helps us to know what the fact is today, and how we know that our interventions are driving actual improvements in both quality and safety on the ground. Throughput is the output of the real-time data,” says Gopinath Jayaraj, CIO, Tata Motors.
3. Leveraging insights
Tata Motors is also correlating data between manufacturing and logistics–both inbound and outbound. These insights help in making better decisions on sequencing and scheduling.
Apart from that, integrating data between the company’s HR and manufacturing is also enabling better human capital planning.
“Cross-functional integration of data is another focus area that has been driving a lot of internal efficiencies and improvements in quality,” he shares.
4. Data Security
Tata Motors is also focusing on building a strong data security foundation.
“This is one of the more difficult areas to address in manufacturing. People in the industry are well aware that setups are usually disparate in remote locations and also require to be operational in all kinds of conditions. Enabling connectivity and secure connections with no breach possibilities are thus challenging, and that’s one of the core things we are focusing on,” adds Jayaraj.
Within India, Tata Motors has seven manufacturing plants and there is no location where an Industry 4.0 initiative is not being implemented. The four aforementioned themes have different levels of initiatives being driven across all locations.
Some of the initiatives are at higher levels of maturity and have been deployed across all plants. Some are at different levels of maturity where they are yet to be proven. Jayaraj calls this an ongoing process.
Established in 1945, Tata Motors is India’s largest automobile manufacturer with a revenue of Rs 2.82 lakh crores and more than 75,000 employees.
Driving enterprise-level cultural shift with IT
During the lockdown, IT played an important role in enabling most of Tata Motors’ workforce to work remotely (through the enablement of network lines, VPNs, and laptops). While business continuity was ensured by making investments in IT infra, it also brought upon a cultural shift within the manufacturing space.
“It was always a challenge in the manufacturing industry to introduce things like Flexi timings or remote working. The pandemic intimated our HR team to be quite responsive in creating a new way of working. Post the pandemic, digitization benefits became much more systematized as a part of the organization,” Jayaraj maintains.
The process and approach to employee engagement, workforce productivity, the measurement systems, have been adapted to the new way of working. Tata Motors’ HR has been very enthusiastically embracing digital as a method to drive this cultural transformation.
“For the last two years, we have been driving an employee digitisation programme of employee processes. We have built our employee digital platform which is linked to the company’s core HR systems. But this is completely cloud and mobile native, and brings the HR services to the employees,” he says.
The company is also using MS Teams as a channel to deploy employee processes. Asynchronous conversations between employees and HR systems have been enabled which lets them have conversations with the chatbot to book leaves, access policy documents, etc.
“This has been an interesting change because what was initially forced upon us because of the pandemic has helped drive the company to change processes to make employees more productive and engaged through digital technologies,” he avers.
Fostering digital-first mindset
While Tata Motors is transforming its enterprise architecture into a modern digital platform, creating newer solutions to enhance dealer and customer experiences, the company is also changing the mindset of employees by creating awareness around the impact digital systems are making on enterprise processes–both internal and external.
“On the employee front, the mindset change around the digital ecosystem is one of the important things that the leadership realised needs to happen. Tata Motors’ HR division is driving awareness programmes across the company to ensure everyone understands the kind of digital capabilities the organisation already has which could be leveraged,” shares Jayaraj.
The Digital Champions programme is one such example which is driven inside the business units across all functions, and employees are encouraged to understand what the technologies are capable of and how they can leverage them.
The selected ‘Digital Champions’ are then taken through specific training programs for raising their awareness and capability in this area. They provide IT teams with their feedback or requirement for building digital products
“Equally from a capability-building perspective, we’ve been retooling both internally and externally. We’ve been focusing on providing our existing partners and vendors with feedback on which areas they need to build expertise on,” he says.
For the IT team, the organisation has a very systematic programme on which technology training needs to happen, how the workforce can be trained internally in certain technologies and how hiring can be performed strategically for bringing in niche skills.
“For the last three years, we have had our internal program called Sparks IT that we’ve been driving internally to open up the capability and capacity quotient for delivering digitally for the company,” adds Jayaraj.