the jewellery division of Titan Industries, Tata Steel's
Steeljunction and Tata Motors new two-cylinder diesel
engine, walked away with the top honours at the Tata
Group's first ever Innovation Day awards ceremony held
on July 8, 2006, at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower,
Tanishq's winning innovation was its patent-pending process that completely "de-skills" intricate inlaying of precious stone in jewellery making - a process through which it achieved "zero-defect" in its jewellery manufacturing operations throughout the year and quantifiable cost savings of Rs 5.5 crore. The industry defect rate is between 0.4 and 0.5 per cent.
The innovation of the process has also dramatically increased productivity. "Workers who earlier studded 150 stones per day after two-three years of experience, can now stud upto1,100 stones," says Tansihq's manufacturing manager Manimaran. "The process has been so de-skilled, that a worker can start studding 1,100 stones, with a day's practice," he explains.
Tata Steel's Steeljunction, for its innovative concept of retailing steel to the consumer, and Tata Motor's development of the two-cylinder engine, for the sub 1-ton commercial vehicle Ace, were ranked as the two next best innovations of the year.
Innovations in processes, systems and products were presented by 101 teams, from 33 Tata companies for the Innovation Awards. After six regional rounds, 18 were short-listed for the finals.
The entries for the finals included Tata Chemicals' innovative environmental project for the conservation of the whale shark and the Tata Kisan Sansar; Roots Corporation's chain of non-star category Ginger hotels and Tata Refractories' utilisation of dolomite wastes to make a binder for castables.
Tata Group's technology companies were also amongst the finalists, with VSNL's telephone call routing system, Tata Teleservices innovative marketing of its CDMA services and TCS' automated support for managing knowledge work vying for honours.
Tanishq, with its breakthrough innovation on jewellery mould setting was declared the top innovator for its "completely revolutionary concept with potential for global replication and results of removing errors to zero", in the words of Baldridge assessor, and one of the judges, Doug Serrano. Serrano also heads the world's second-largest global logistics provider.
The other judges were Suresh Lulla, managing director, Quimpro Consultants, and also one of the early pioneers of the quality movement in India, and Veer Prakash, research and technology head, Honeywell Technology Solutions Lab, India.
The selection criteria
Speaking to domain-b, Serrano explains the selection criteria for the winners, "The innovations chosen were those that were completely revolutionary and not evolutionary, had potential for global replication and displayed solid results." Referring to the choice of Tanishq as the overall winner, Serrano emphasised, "When you remove errors to zero, that's significant."
Tanishq's innovation was the initiative of two shop floor technicians - a fact that did not seem to surprise the chief guest, Dr J J Irani, chairman of Tata Quality Management Services (TQMS), who recalled, "Often when our engineers (at Jamshedpur) were stuck, we would ask them to take a break and let the people at the shop floor take over."
The selection of Steeljunction was for an equally remarkable breakthrough, said Serrano. "I have travelled all over the world. Nowhere have I seen steel being retailed in show rooms as an attractive end product." Similarly, the selection of Tata Motor's two-stroke diesel engine being a first -development in the industry, qualified as a breakthrough innovation,.
Tata innovation day is a platform for Group companies to showcase their innovative achievements. Eighteen teams, from companies across the group, had the unique opportunity to present their ideas to an audience, comprising top group leaders, including Dr Irani and R Gopalkrishnan.
Under the aegis of the TBEM Regional Network Forums, projects were selected by an independent panel of judges, while being recognised at the regional levels. The best eighteen teams were chosen to present their ideas to a larger audience.
Emphasis on innovation
"Innovation in an organisation is not the same as an invention. It is a new idea or a new product or service that makes the competition irrelevant," says Sunil Sinha, CEO, Tata Quality Management Services (TQMS). "In an intense competitive world global firms leverage innovation by converting innovative ideas into new products and services that customers are willing to pay for," he adds.
Sinha emphasizes that innovation is the most sustainable lever for profitable growth, as it cannot be replicated. "What sets an organisation apart is its capacity to innovate. The market recognises and places a premium on profitable organisations," he says, pointing out that companies like Intel, Canon, Microsoft, Siemens, Pfizer, Honda, among others, have introduced innovation as a practice to convert new ideas into better ways of doing business.
He echoes Group Chairman Ratan Tata's belief that innovations would drive the next phase of the Group's growth, explaining the emphasis on institutionalising a culture for innovation.
also see :
Tata Innovation day