The all-new compressor manufacturing plant at Chakan holds everything to become a benchmark for Atlas Copco.
It was a twin achievement for Atlas Copco when it unveiled its state-of-the-art compressor manufacturing facility at Chakan on February 21, 2013. Considered as one of the world's most innovative and sustainable companies, Atlas Copco completed 140 year of history across offices and manufacturing facilities around the globe. The total investment at the Chakan facility was about Rs 100 crore. The investment in the land allows the company for future expansion at the same site. Being a green field project, the Chakan plant is one of the first plants within Atlas Copco that applies the Lean Manufacturing principles at a large scale and to the full extent. This plant will become a reference for future facilities within Atlas Copco.
Lean & Green
The factory has been built in accordance with the globally applicable Atlas Copco Sustainable Building Standards, and in line with the Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design (LEED) best practices. Extra attention has been given to energy efficient designs and technologies to limit the environmental impact and to reduce the use of energy and natural resources during building construction phase and future plant operation.
"Application for the LEED-India certification has been submitted to IGBC for a Green Factory rating with GOLD certification level," says Rudy Verstrepen, Vice President, CT India Operations, Atlas Copco.
One of the unique features of this plant is that the complete assembly workshop doesn't need any additional lighting during day time, just by intelligent building orientation and applied building concept. Beside the energy performance of the new factory building will be a key factor to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions; at the same it was possible to create a pleasant work environment for the assembly workers.
The plant layout has been developed according the Flow manufacturing principles. From goods reception to finished goods loading, it is one single connected process flow, focussing on the continuous flow of materials, products and information trough the value creation process.
The manufacturing layout and logistics setup has been designed to operate according to lean manufacturing principles. Consequently, the number of production lines and the overall assembly line length could be reduced considerably. A clear border line has been defined between the assembly and logistics operations. When leveraging the capabilities of local Indian logistics partners, a third-party logistics provider has been selected to deliver inbound and in-plant logistics services, including the packing and loading of the ready to deliver compressors.
Technology & safety
Besides providing the materials in due time ready for assembly, it is important to provide the right information to all involved stakeholders of the manufacturing process: supermarket inventory positions for the production planner, kitting and sequencing data for the logistics people, assembly and test parameters for the line technicians: information management is a key factor for successful lean manufacturing. Consequently, a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) has been developed and implemented to secure on time in full data management throughout the process.
More efficient use of energy and natural resources and reducing the ecological footprint of compressor products are the drivers behind today's compressor innovation. For industrial application, 80 per cent of the total cost of ownership of a compressor is linked to the consumption of energy. Atlas Copco has developed a complete energy saving concept for compressor systems that includes system assessment, core and drive technology, air treatment, system optimisation and energy recovery to secure the lowest operating cost. The launch of the Class Zero compressor subscribes Atlas Copco's contributory role to reduce the ecological footprint of their products.
Over the past years, Atlas Copco has given a lot of attention to safety in its factories and operations. A global Safety First campaign has made Atlas Copco employees not only aware of the importance of Safety and Health in their professional and private life, but also trained and practised in best safety practices.
The same methodology has been applied during the construction of the new site in Chakan. Over 800 construction workers have been trained in best safety practices, and all contractors have been checked for their safety track records. The new Chakan plant project was completed without any work-related accident and achieving one million hours of accident-free operations.
Pre-production has started since the beginning of 2013 and the Chakan plant ill be a hundred per cent operational during the first half of 2013. During this period, all production of industrial air compressors and portable energy compressors will be shifted from the existing factory in Dapodi to the new factory in Chakan. The Dapodi factory will continue to produce oil-free air compressors and quality air solutions.
The Chakan plant will manufacture industrial air compressors and portable energy compressors. Customers are segmented in general industry, construction industry and water well drilling.
The new Chakan plant will support Atlas Copco's ambition for double digit growth in the local market for the coming years. With this new investment Atlas Copco will also be able to further extend the actual product offering in India, serving new customer segments, providing new products for new applications and new customer requirements in the area of energy efficiency and productivity. General industry and construction industry will remain the main contributors for business expansion in India.
"By operating under various brands and using different channels to the market, Atlas Copco is operating with differentiated value offering towards our different customer segments. A strong brand portfolio management secures that Atlas Copco offers for each customer the right product that fits his individual value for money demand," Rudy says.
Products designed for Indian working conditions have also added value for customers outside India that have similar working conditions. High ambient temperature operating conditions in more dusty environments demand specific product design requirements that can be offered out of the Atlas Copco factories in India.
Product innovation has been one of Atlas Copco core processes, as new products and solutions are the driving force behind organic growth and creating customer value. New product development has a long-term strategic importance. It enables a company to stay ahead of competition; it supports company's profitability and pricing strategy, and puts it ahead of trends and regulations.
Atlas Copco has developed an in-house core team of design resources to support the focus on product innovation. In India, Atlas Copco has engineering centres in Pune and Bengaluru to support globally the product design centres with a full range of design engineering services.
HR & skill development
The Chakan plant has around 200 employees working at various departments. According to Rudy, Atlas Copco's attrition rate is well below the reported average by engineering companies operating in the same industrial area and segment. "Atlas Copco strives to be a good employer to attract, develop, and keep qualified and motivated people. Atlas Copco offers their employees freedom with accountability. A lot of attention has been given to competence development and feedback on performance development. A key asset is the internal job market which ensures that 85 per cent of the Atlas Copco managers have been internally recruited," he says.
In average, Atlas Copco provides about 40 hours of training per year per employee. This includes all types of technical training, soft skill development programmes and training on the job. "Various in-house leadership programmes have been organised to develop our future leaders, including employee interchange programmes between the different Atlas Copco operational units all over the world," Rudy adds.
With the start-up of the new Chakan plant, special focus has been given to the training of assembly workers. A Gurukul area has been created to assure that new workers can get acquainted off-line with its type of assembly operations before-hand, to be integrated on the final assembly line. This also includes a yearly refreshment training of the existing workforce.
Research & Development
Core component design has been done in the product design centres, which are responsible for the research and development (R&D). In these centres, a lot of attention goes to prototyping and testing which call for sizeable investments. Product packaging has been done in the product companies, who are responsible for the design and development (D&D). In these companies, units gets designed and tested for local conditions, including field testing with the final prototype units. The Dapodi plant is the product design centre for the Piston Compressor Technology, the Chakan plant is a D&D centre for Industrial compressors and Portable Energy compressors. The Chakan D&D facility includes a workshop for prototype assembly and testing facilities for electric motor and diesel engine driven compressor, including test monitoring and data collection equipment.
"The launch of new products and solutions that creates value for our customer in terms of energy efficiency and productivity is the driving force behind the organic growth of Atlas Copco. A leading position in offering innovative product and solutions provides Atlas Copco a leading position in the market," avers Rudy. Over the years, Atlas Copco has developed an asset light organisation. A large proportion of the costs are variable and only a minor part is fixed. As a result, Atlas Copco is agile and resilient to adjust quickly to prevailing business climate conditions. Rudy sums it up, "Leveraging the capabilities of our business partners allows easier access to technology to secure new, more innovative products without the need for large investments in the development of these new technologies."