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Nokia does 'smart manufacturing'
An MIS Case study.
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
give an example of such an improvement that originated elsewhere, and is being
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.
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
Any such ideas from the
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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