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Nokia does 'smart manufacturing' - An MIS Case study.

  • Here is an interviews to learn, how Nokia ensures that charger and manual etc is packed inside the box.

"Improvements need not be complex"

  • If the termí smart manufacturing Ď evokes images of complex technology and huge investments, Jukka Lehtela, director-India operations of Nokia, is quick to dispel such notions. Itís all about simplicity, he says. Smart manufacturing is also about willingness to learn and to teach- and about the belief that good ideas can come from anywhere. Lehtela is in charge of the Nokia manufacturing unit at sriperum-buder, near Chennai. Excerpts from an interview with NS Ramnath.

  •  How is smart manufacturing different from, letís say, lean manufacturing, which also seeks to eliminate waste and improve efficiency?

  •  Lean manufacturing is a part of smart manufacturing. Smart manufacturing is a broader concept, and includes lean manufacturing and other tools such as kaizen (continuous improvement), visual controls and 5s strategy (Sort, Set-In-Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain). To draw parallel, itís similar to the Toyota Way. Smart manufacturing is Nokia way of doing things.

  •  In India, we use the concept to combine global best practices with India advantage, its talent. At the base of smart manufacturing is what we think of as core Nokia values- customer satisfaction, respect for the individuals, achievements and continuous learning. Smart manufacturing practices have a bearing to these values, and are developed as result of asking questions like Ďwhat can we do here, in this plant, that can improve customer satisfaction?í

  •  Can you give an example of such an improvement that originated elsewhere, and is being used here?

  •  Quite a few. The point about smart manufacturing is that the improvements need not necessarily be complex.  In fact, the simpler, the better. Let me give an example. Someone suggested that to check whether all accessories, such as charger and user manual have been places inside a box before its packed into a bigger one, all we need to do is weigh it. If the box weighs less, something is missing. I donít know where it was first thought of, but we use it across our facilities. That is smart manufacturing.

    Someone suggested that to check whether all accessories, such as charger and user manual have been places inside a box before its packed into a bigger one, all we need to do is weigh it. If the box weighs less, something is missing. I donít know where it was first thought of, but we use it across our facilities. That is smart manufacturing.

  •  Any such ideas from the Indian center?

  •  Yes. We are 350 people here at present. When we had about 2,500 people we had a company wide awareness programme on kaizen. During the programme, Nokia employees were asked íHow would you make things better for customers in your own area of operation?í Can you guess the number of suggestions that came up? There were close to 2,000 ideas. This just goes on to show the quality of people we have here in India.

  •  Do you pass on such practices to your suppliers too? Do you train them?

  •  We work closely with our vendors. However, we canít take too much responsibility. We first make sure that we have all the best practices in place, before we turn our attention outside.

  •  Mobile phones have changes significantly over the past few years- there seems to be a lot of convergence. How soon it will be before you make a completely different product in this facility, from what you make today?

  •  Yes, we are flexible and scalable. Our processes are flexible for small customizations such as adding a fm radio in mobile phone-making a phone with local language keypads. And we are also flexible to make completely different kinds of cell phones.

  •  Our phones are designed for manufacture. And so, it doesnít matter what goes into a phone Ė it could be television, it could be camcorder. This is a volume factory, and when we have enough volumes, we would make high-end phones too.

  •  You are present in 10 locations across the world. How do you manage cultural differences?

  •  That is quite easy. You have to listen and be open-minded. All countries have their own value systems and you need to be able to appreciate that. At one level, itís about participating in the cultural activities. For example, sometime back we conducted puja in our factory, something that we donít do elsewhere.  At the time , there are something that donít change- the safety standards, the kind of jackets our employees wear, the kind of shoes.  These are same all across the world. Ultimately we all know we are into manufacturing, and thatís what is keeping us going.    

 

    [Reproduced from the Economic Times, November, 2006].


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