Mecaplast begins operations in India
French component supplier sets up shop in India to cater to the domestic market and leverage its engineering service capabilities for exports.
Globally Mecaplast caters to several OEMs including Ford Motor Company, Renault-Nissan, General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW, Peugeot, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat and Volvo. According to B S Rao, the country head of Indian operations, the plant is spread over 4,000 square metres and also houses space for future expansion. “We got our first business from Ford India in February 2008 to localise its DV4 engine plastic parts. Almost at the same time, Renault-Nissan confirmed its operations in Chennai. This made our decision to choose Chennai for our first manufacturing plant easy. Mahindra World City is situated in close proximity to the Chennai automotive belt. The township offers better infrastructure, easy connectivity to rail and roadways that are important to an MNC like us.”
MGMS at work The factory is built based on the Mecaplast Group Manufacturing System (MGMS), the company guideline for building new plants. The layout is designed in a U formation with the incoming area for raw materials and components, such as plastic billets and other rubber parts coming from one side and finished goods leaving the factory on the other. The input material moves to the production area, then to the assembly and the finished goods move to the packing area before being despatched. Currently the company has three injection moulding machines with 200-, 400- and 600- tonne capacities having 50, 40 and 70 percent spare capacity respectively. The plant has provision to add about 25 more machines and also to create customer-specific facilities. Rao says the company plans to expand capacity by adding up to 1,500 tonnes before end-2011. It also has ultrasonic, vibration and hotplate welding machines. It has developed a leak test with ATEQ controller, blow test and burst test machines to ensure high product quality. He proudly states the plant has been running for the past four months at zero ppm.
Speaking to Autocar Professional, Thierry Manni, chairman of the board – Mecaplast Group, said the high quality levels are primarily due to following MGMS strictly during the construction process and training the workforce. “The Indian market holds great promise and we are quite certain that our products and technologies will be well accepted. Moreover, India is renowned for its skilled manpower, low cost of innovation and its design and development skills. These factors will help us in establishing base in the country,” says Manni.
The new plant is currently staffed by 40 people. Christine Bénard, Group CEO, says the manufacturing system has several poke-yokes to eliminate rejections and rework. “We are extremely delighted to launch our first facility in India. The Mecaplast Group is known for its excellence and we hope to replicate the same quality in India through an amalgamation of nearly 55 years of experience, in addition to committed and motivated employees in India. Such a combination would be ideal in achieving ‘best-in-class’ manufacturing practices that will not only help serve our customers better but also increase the competitiveness of our Group,” she said.
India product family Currently the Indian facility is designed to make three family of products such as engine, interior and exterior parts. Under the engine group, it can manufacture cam covers, air-intake manifolds, air intake systems, air filters, belt cover, thermostat housing, battery box and tanks. Mecaplast India can also make interior trim including over moulding, consoles and storages, and injected trunk trim for the interiors. As far as exteriors are concerned, it is capable of making exterior A, B and C-pillars, water intake manifolds, cowl louvres and wheel arch covers. At present, it makes the engine cam cover assembly, air cleaner assembly, fuel filter assembly, resonator (turbo noise dumper) and belt cover. Rao says at present the Indian operation supplies about five powertrain components to Ford India. From early 2011 it will supply engine cover plates and related components to GM India. This will be followed by supplies to the Nissan Ashok Leyland joint venture with some exterior components including rear cover, cover assembly, fin assembly and front door covers.
In the near future the company will look at supplying plastic fuel rails, acoustic shields, degassing tanks, grab handles, cupholders, steering column covers, gloveboxes, middle console, garnish, mobile storage box and complete trunk module. As some of the future products need a paint finish, Mecaplast India will also look at setting up a painting facility in future. So far the company has invested about Rs 30 crore in the facility and will look at investing an equal amount in the next three years, according to Alain Sarran, international director of the Mecaplast Group.
“We do not have imported content in the products manufactured in India as we developed local sources over a period of time,” says Manni. It has over a dozen suppliers including IPR, Besmek, Bright Engineering, Siemens and BASF.
PEPS to pep customers Bénard says a new concept – Plan for Excellence in Providing Satisfaction to the Customers (PEPS) – helps the company in satisfying its customers besides ensuring profitable growth. She adds that the concept is made of seven fundamentals – involved and motivated employees, best-in-class plants, innovation, best-in-class project delivery, rigorous cash management, zero defect and new business, which will result out of customer satisfaction. “To measure the results of these fundamentals, we have defined 18 indicators that each department deploys today. In addition to the seven fundamentals and the 18 indicators, we have decided to launch nine transversal major projects with the objective to achieve quick wins in 2010 and also to work more deeply on things that are very important for our future like for example our footprint, etc,” she said. The PEPS Customers concept is deployed in every plant of the Group and will be introduced in the Chennai facility soon.
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