Ten years ago, the leading Indian vehicle manufacturer Mahindra asked Atlas Copco to supply tooling for the production of its new SUV, the Scorpio. Since then, Mahindra has selected Atlas Copco to be its tightening partner at all its plants – a natural extension of the auto manufacturer’s desire for sustainable productivity.
“We must have a partner with the experience to participate in the engineering at the start of the project.” Dinesh Kulkarni, Deputy General Manager, Projects
The Scorpio SUV is a rugged truck, with a muscular design that also manages to convey a sense of luxury. This is the flagship vehicle of Mahindra, one of India’s leading vehicle brands. The automotive company itself, with eight plants in India and five in other countries, is the flagship branch of the multinational Mahindra Group.
Introduced in 2002, the Scorpio’s production relied on tooling provided by Atlas Copco. Today, that success has led Atlas Copco to become the preferred tightening partner at all of Mahindra’s plants. In 2009, Mahindra opened its 35 000- square-meter (38 000 square feet) Chakan plant near Pune, in western India.
Designed for minimum environmental impact, the plant has four production lines for assembling medium and heavy trucks, small commercial vehicles, pick-ups and SUVs. More than 400 000 vehicles are produced here every year by a workforce of 1 800 employees.
Almost all of the plants’s tools – approximately 95% – are from Atlas Copco. But Atlas Copco provides more than just precision tool technology.
An in-house Atlas Copco workshop takes care of the plant’s tool service needs. Four service technicians are permanently based there, handling tool service, repairs, calibration and solving tightening issues.
“We must have a partner with the experience to participate in the engineering at the start of the project and guide us through the tool selection and pre-production phases,” says Dinesh Kulkarni, Chakan’s Deputy General Manager, Projects, emphasizing that Atlas Copco’s role as a total solutions provider is the No.1 benefit. “Selecting the correct tools for the application is critical in achieving correct torque, joint integrity, fast cycle times and good ergonomics. Atlas Copco has this capability, and it helps us to achieve high levels of quality and productivity.”
Chakan Production Manager Prakash Pardeshi speaks highly of Atlas Copco’s service capability: “Having supplied the tools, Atlas Copco is very good at taking care of them. They have implemented efficient preventive maintenance schedules and the on-site service workshop keeps our tools in very good condition. If there are issues, their technicians are on the spot and can take immediate action. We would certainly recommend Atlas Copco to other companies.”
Personnel training is taken very seriously at the Chakan plant. To become certified associates, as tool operators are called at Chakan, new employees receive four days of training in the plant’s training center and three days of on-the-job training. The training center is equipped with the same tooling as the assembly lines, so Atlas Copco participates when appropriate and trains personnel in the handling and care of new tools.
Atlas Copco process specialists have also helped increase quality and reduce warranty claims at the Chakan plant. They review the processes regularly to identify ways of optimizing production. Senior engineering sales staff regularly stop by the Atlas Copco workshop to discuss new assembly solutions that cut costs and increase productivity.
Chakan Plant Manager Ramdas Nair feels the partnership with Atlas Copco is a successful one. “We are very satisfied with Atlas Copco. They are flexible, their level of technology is generally higher than other suppliers’, and they provide good aftersales service with effective personnel training,” he says. “With tooling, we need to look at total cost of ownership, and that’s why we choose Atlas Copco as our partner.”
A green plant
Mahindra’s integrated automotive manufacturing plant in Chakan is one of the most environmentally friendly automotive plants in the world. Seventy solar dishes capture solar energy for electricity and heating. Wastewater is recycled on-site with zero discharges and the closed-loop cooling towers reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
Pune has rightfully earned its reputation as “India’s Detroit,” with more than 10 domestic, Asian and Western automotive plants in the area manufacturing cars, trucks, tractors and motorbikes.
Represented companies include Mahindra, Tata Motors, General Motors, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Force Motors, FIAT India, Piaggio, and Bajaj Auto (scooters and motorcycles).
Written by Linas Alsenas
Tool operators at Chakan receive seven days of training.